Hollywood is Condemning the Sexual Culture it Helped Create
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Pamela SmithOctober 28, 2017
The story you relate about watching a high-school boy grab the breast of a freshman girl, who said and did nothing, is EXACTLY the reason why Donald Trump remarked (about actresses and other females who are star-struck), “They LET you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p____. You can do anything.” This sick cultural norm has been created by women, embraced by men and here we all are, in the middle of it. What comes next? Well, the return of the Savior would be wonderful. But while waiting for that, we women must recognize as true what actress Mayim Bialik wisely states in her op-ed piece -- that women have the power to be “self-protecting and wise” and that “dressing modestly and not acting flirtatiously with men as a policy” adds to that protection. She is correct, but many have stopped their ears and are foolishly unwilling to listen. Texas Democrat Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has stated the same, and, of course, was then vilified by other liberals for wrongly placing some responsibility upon women. Now, OF COURSE, these protections will not stop all sexual assault. But they are a good start and are what I will personally teach my granddaughters: Not to fear men, but to respect themselves, and to know that where sexual attitudes are concerned, women are the gatekeepers. The “accepted norms of morality and appropriateness” are STILL being touted by wise females. And by wise males, may I add. Our Vice-President Mike Pence, through his actions and words, is teaching American men (and women) that not dining with, nor spending one-on-one time alone with, women other than his wife is the standard he chooses to keep. A standard which ensures safety in his marriage. You can bet that every one of our General Authorities keeps that same standard. We who are followers of Christ are not to hide our light under a bushel but are to shine brightly for the world to see and to follow. I’m up for the challenge. And, clearly, so are you, Mariah, for writing such a well-worded article. Thank you.
AnnieOctober 25, 2017
This was beautiful and poignant, very well-written and spot-on. I think we do need to vote with our money. Another poster stated that this won't make a difference, and I agree, but for different reasons - it's because most of us are willing to let things slide. When we give in and watch it because it has rave reviews, or watch an edited "VidAngel" style version, we're still contributing to the culture that continues to create sexist and degrading material. I know dozens of people (including many Mormons) who are staunchly against rape and sexual abuse, and yet justify watching Game of Thrones because it's popular or because the story is good or because they like the actors, despite the fact that it features dozens (edging towards hundreds) of graphic rape scenes. Anyone who has even heard of Woody Allen has most likely heard that he's a known pedophile who sexually abused two of his adopted daughters (and went on to marry one of them) - yet people continue to laud him for his filmmaking. How many people can see the trending themes in his films - which almost all feature a very young woman in a romantic relationship with a much older man (his newest features a 15-year old girl with a 44 year old man) but don't consider the real-life abuse he's symbolically depicting enough of a problem to avoid the movie? If we want to see actual change, we have to stop caring more about our entertainment and more about our morals, and that will take a lot of effort. It would require people to skip movies they've wanted to see, get rid of entire channels, probably even stop subscribing to things like VidAngel and Netflix. It might require us spending more money on individual DVDs instead of a low flat fee to a streaming company, so that we can better control directly where our money goes. If we want to effectively tell Hollywood that we won't participate in or support their sexism, we have to actually follow through. When we condemn a Weinstein but continue to pay to see a Woody Allen film, we're contributing. When we condemn rape but watch Game of Thrones, we're contributing. When we won't pay to see a movie in the theaters, but then pay to watch it through VidAngel, the filmmakers get our money either way. In short, for us to change Hollywood for the better, we're going to have to change ourselves first. How willing are we?
Mariah (author)October 24, 2017
@Francine, I had no intention of invalidating your feelings or experiences. I am sincerely sorry if it felt that way. When I said engaging with the wrong people, I meant that we should make sure that our primary reassurance as strong women comes from the Lord and what He thinks of us and we should not judge the Gospel based on the imperfections of some of its membership. The Lord has only ever had imperfect people to work with. Jonah bodily fled from his calling and the Lord was still able to utilize him to convert a city.
N WhiteOctober 23, 2017
A great commentary on this subject. I have never felt demeaned, or mocked by the men or women I've worked and associated with at Church. Thank you for writing this article!
JenniferOctober 23, 2017
Mariah, I know you mean well, but Francine is correct. We still have severe problems within the Church with the ideas of women being ignored and sometimes the women themselves being belittled. We do need to cast out our beams before we point fingers at the beams. Because it is always easier to blame others for the problems within the broader culture than to examine how we are contributing to them.
AllisonOctober 23, 2017
Dear Republican, Clinton is in the past. So is Kennedy. So is Roosevelt. So is Eisenhower. Trump, unfortunately, is in the present. And with all the experience we had dealing with the consequences of these men's adulteries, Jane is correct to question why we choose to go down this road again. It was not as if there were no other Republican candidates to choose from in the primaries. There were so many they could not even get them all on the same debate stage. A wise man once told me we should be very careful when a people choose a leader to rescue them from the consequences of their bad choices. That is when they will choose a dictator. Our failure to uphold even the most minimum of moral values in the past election is already haunting us. And I do not believe Hillary would have been any better. We, as members of both major parties, chose evil because we value our party affiliations and our wealth over our allegiance to God.
RepublicanOctober 23, 2017
Jane, I'm just curious your thoughts on the Democrats who elected a lying sexual abuser/adulterer who has no respect for women or morals, then allowed him to stay in office and nearly elected his wife, who has similar delusions about moral values.
JaneOctober 22, 2017
What's to be done? A start would be to never again elect an admitted sexual abuser/adulterer who has no respect for women or morals. Republicans, by accepting Trump's amorality, sent the message to our children that respect, virtue, and decency are not important. We surely will come to regret this.
Mary JaneOctober 22, 2017
Mariah, thank you for explaining this irony. As one of the older generation (born 1931), who grew up in a big LDS family, I have been warned by the signs of the times. As a young woman growing up when the military was recruiting for World War II, I was taught strongly about the importance of chastity. But combined with my own common sense I learned that what I did influenced what the man with me did. Never would I have gone alone into the chambers of a Hollywood producer or any other man. My father was kind but also firm. Once, when I was about 12, he came to me sternly saying never again was I to leave my upstairs bedroom window uncovered when I was undressing-- never with the light on at night. He briefly explained why. Since he was rarely angry, this teaching stayed with me. You can see the point. Children need to be taught the why of chastity. However as a single woman in my 20s and 30s I had to relearn this principle by experience. Being reared in a family with several brothers and sisters avoids the horrible misunderstanding today of the different functions of male and female. The mixed-up gender issue is related to the sexual harrassment issue, as both are based upon the lackl of instruction in chastity or abstinence. .
TJOctober 21, 2017
Your piece is excellent but I agree with Francine. The Church needs to clean up its own culture. I am old enough to remember applying to BYU when women still could not apply for the best scholarships the school offered. I qualified, having scored higher than the men in my class who received one of those scholarships. Instead of being free to pursue academic excellence, I was privileged to work six days a week and sometimes two jobs six days a week, while the men I beat were supported through their education with my tithing money. Funny how the Church did not think it necessary to charge the women less tithing, just to offer them less benefits funded from that tithing.
GTOOctober 21, 2017
I lived in the Middle East for 11 years. As an American female, I was expected by the men there to have the same (lack of) morality that Hollywood movies portrayed. In some areas, it was dangerous to walk down the street because of these assumptions. Men would grab you, because they assumed you were like those Hollywood women. You are right. We portray this sexual freedom and then complain when we feel violated. This is a mix that can never bode well for women. Only make things worse.
Jo Ann OkelberryOctober 20, 2017
This is a great article. I have been very surprised at the "Me Too" movement and how many of my friends have posted about their encounters with sexual harassment. Thank you for writing this. Also, I am a strong and out-spoken woman, and the men I have worked with in the Church have been respectful of my opinions and thoughts. Thank you again for writing this.
Mariah Proctor (author)October 20, 2017
@Francine. I actually don't agree. I have never felt dismissed or mocked by the Church for my strength, only by ignorant individuals within the Church. If you are being dismissed from the discussion for being a smart and bold women, I think you may be engaging with the wrong people. Nearly every General Conference talk this last round quoted the insights of female leaders and saints. The more I study and understand the Gospel, the more I feel encouraged as a woman to stand up and stand out. I'm not sure what you think "real power" would look like, but the personal power I continue to gain from developing my relationship with Jesus Christ has helped me excel in every other area of my life (including creatively and professionally).
Rosemary EvansOctober 20, 2017
Great insights and well written. I I just read a wonderful book by a Hollywood Producer, "The Hollywood Commandments" by Devon Franklin, showing that we can be the change in Hollywood and the world when we keep our focus on God's will and put God's will for our life first. I think you would enjoy reading it as it is full of faith and great insights of how when you put God first, you can produce great movies that impact people's life and also make money. Win/win for all.
FrancineOctober 20, 2017
A very thoughtful essay. I applaud your sentiments. But smart, bold women are not applauded in the Mormon Church. They are mocked in our culture, labeled feminists and dismissed from the discussion. If you really wish to change things, start within our culture. Start by giving women real power.
JohnOctober 20, 2017
Hollywood will continue to make what people are willing to pay for. Given that it’s one of America’s biggest exports, I doubt that will ever change. Family friendly media does not do well in this country. Ratings determine what is popular. For every person who protests programmes such as GoThrones, hundreds of others are paying to watch it on hbo or on dvd. On the other hand, we don’t want to become like North Korea or Saudi Arabia, where all media is controlled and censored.
LeahOctober 20, 2017
Yes, Hollywood is condemning the very problems it created and glorifies: sexual abuse and gun violence. Anywhere unscrupulous men are in power, there will be sexual abuse of who ever takes their fancy. They do it because they can. Nowhere is a man more in power than in his own home. Home can be a dangerous place for women and children and I know this from personal experience. It's pretty sad. I loved President Hinkley's talk "The Women in Our Lives". It is excellent.
DianeOctober 20, 2017
Giles LambertsonOctober 20, 2017
What a marvelously well-written and thought-out piece. The opinion is sound, but it also was crafted exceptionally well. A sad commentary, but a good one. Thanks...
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