When I was 22, I went to an ice skating activity for my single’s ward. This nice (but awkward) recent returned missionary started chatting with me. He said something about serving in Mexico, I mentioned having just returned from a semester-long field study there. The next Sunday, he asked me on a date. Like, a real, let’s-go-out-on-a-date-date (a rare and elusive experience during my 4 years of BYU, ring-by-spring mythology notwithstanding).
He picked me up and immediately asked who my favorite “cantadora” was. You know, cuz, clearly I was *way* into latin music like he was. (FYI: this was pre-latin explosion on the Billboard charts). When I failed to provide the hoped-for answer, he popped in his Shakira mix CD and cranked it up. He had chosen a restaurant the “knew I would LOVE because it’s so authentic” and proceeded to drive me to Beto’s, encouraging me to try whatever reminded most of Mexico. And the conversation centered on all things Mexican… you know, like me. By 9:30pm I feigned exhaustion and requested to go home. He flirted with me a church and asked me out a few more times. Every time, it was painfully obvious that the only thing he knew and liked about me was my ethnicity. I artfully dodged and avoided until summer when I moved out of the ward.
A few years later, I was living the high life of LDS singledom in Washington, DC. After a couple social-filled but date-less years, I met a guy at a single’s conference. Our eyes met over the dessert table, he introduced himself, flirted, and by the end of the buffet line had my phone number. He called me the next day and we went to dinner followed by a ‘movie’ at my place. When the evening took an inevitable and expected turn to a make-out session (“Let’s go watch a movie”!?! We all know that code!), I quickly realized he wanted to push things a lot further than I was comfortable with. After several requests to slow down, stop, and respect the boundaries I’d set, I sent him home. The next day he called to apologize that “things had gotten a little out of hand and I seemed upset when he left.” Before I could respond, he noted that he’d talked to his bishop that day and they’d agreed that he shouldn’t see me any more because he “didn’t think he could control himself around me.” Apparently, I was just too ‘tempting’ for him to be around.
I was shocked and hurt and confused. *I* hadn’t done anything I felt was wrong. *I* hadn’t pushed any lines. Why did I feel so ashamed all of a sudden? Had I “led him on” somehow? (I would be a few years before I could full articulate all that was wrong with that experience). We saw each other a couple more times over the summer before it ended. I failed to respond to his aggressive suggestions that we make out rather than, oh, you know, get to know each other a little and he stopped calling (other than a late night booty call text two months later).
I’d put him in the “just another idiot” category until I discovered that, since his divorce a year before, he’d gone out with several different Latina girls in the local YSA wards (so, like 90% of us) and more than one seemed to have an experience that echoed my own. . . you do the math.
Single life is hard. Single mormon life has its own mountain of added issues. Being a single, active/believing/chaste Mormon woman with a career and non-right-wing cultural and political leanings AND in your mid-30s is hell. Being all those things and not-white is a circle even Dante failed to imagine. At the end of the day, you are persistently running into the realization that finding love and partnership may require giving up a core part of your identity. What is the cost of just being YOU when you a single Mormon WOC? . . . its a lot higher than most people ever consider.
If you want to hear more about being single & sexless as a Mormon WOC, come to the FEMWOC Panel in the Crimson View room on Friday, July 31, 2015 at 3:45 p.m.