I just read an article/post by the always interesting and intelligent Kristine Haglund over at a site called ReligionAndPolitics.org. Kristine’s post is titled “Why Mormon Men Love “Church Ball” and Are Scared of Homosexuality“. Sounded interesting. And the article is interesting. But I have some questions and quibbles with it so I figured this would be a good place to bring them up.
1. Is being kind really “coded feminine”? I see this idea passed around as if it were some self evident fact but it just isn’t. Mormonism, like many other religions, teaches men (and women) to have self discipline, bridle our passions, and be generally good and productive members of our families, communities, and overall societies. I don’t really see what is particularly feminine about that.
2. Church ball is not really all that different than pick up ball anywhere else. Most church ball happens on weekdays either before work or after weekday activities. The games are pretty similar to any pickup hoops game you might get into at the local gym or YMCA. The fact is that men at church ball tend to be significantly less likely to get into fights or start dropping F-Bombs than the guys at the local gym. But perhaps the church ball gets its reputation because expectations for Mormons are extremely high, and yet those blowups, while rare, are not completely absent in church ball.
Also, we rarely bro-hug after ball. Who wants to hug some sweaty bro?
3. I’m not sure Mormon men cry more easily than any other men. Most men love their families intensely and given the proper circumstances would get choked up discussing them. I think Mormon culture just gives men a platform and reason to publicly discuss their loved ones more often than most cultures.
4. Why is effeminate being treated as interchangeable with gay in this conversation? Aren’t there a lot of non-effeminate men who are sexually attracted to other men and a lot of effeminate men who are only sexually attracted to women? Seems to me that treating these two as interchangeable further clouds an already cloudy issue.
(Anyone remember Dana Carvey’s “Lyle, the effeminate heterosexual“? (Warning: PG-13))
5. Mostly, the dots in your post just don’t connect for me. What exactly are you saying? It seems to me that you are implying that because there is a strong fraternal aspect to Mormon culture, that makes Mormon men “scared of homosexuality”. But there are lots of groups that have similar strong fraternal aspects — the military, firefighters, police officers, male sports teams, and so on. In my experience there is nothing about Mormonism that makes Mormon men more “scared of homosexuality” than anyone else. In fact in my experience on sports teams, Mormon men tend to be a lot less mean about the subject than others.
I guess the real problem I see is there is nothing in the article that indicates that there is any significant causal relationship between being a Mormon man and being “scared of homosexuality”.
What say you all?