On a T&S thread, someone mentions sex. TMI, cry a few bloggernackers. But are they the exception or the rule? The numbers tell the tale: Gordon’s limbo thread has currently drawn 4 comments; Joe’s sex thread 86. The readers have spoken unambiguously. But why? Why do we so like to talk about sex in the bloggernacle?
Perhaps it is because we talk about sex all the time anyway. Perhaps we chat with friends and neighbors and home-teaching companions about our views on natural birth control or same-sex attraction. Perhaps Rosalynde tells all of her ward members that breasts are like beards.
In my own experience and observation, this is definitely not the case. Sex is generally an off-limits topic among most church members who I know in real life. There are exceptions, but Mormons generally don’t talk about sex. And (again, based on anecdotal evidence) I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this — in fact, one blogger once noted to me that it is quite shocking how openly Mormons discuss sex on the blogs.
So perhaps the opposite holds true. Perhaps the bloggernacle is an outlet for normally unexpressed concerns, a place of safety where one can discuss sex without fear of retribution. After all, we discuss all sorts of crazy, personal things in the nacle — from testimonies and doubts to maggots in the laundry — so why not branch out a little and discuss the various sensual uses of chocolate truffles, or the religious implications of orgasms?
Discussion of these topics online is also safe — in some ways. It’s relatively safe from the perspective of maintaining the Mormon facade. There is little chance that a shocked ward member will report one to the bishop. It’s also relatively safe in that one’s interlocutors are less likely to get the wrong message and try to make an inappropriate advance. (Let’s face it — it’s difficult for a creepy stalker to inappropriately hit on someone who lives 2000 miles away and goes by a pseudonym.)
In another sense, however, frank online discussion of sex is incredibly risky. One’s co-workers or family members or associates may read these posts and comments. Do I really want my co-workers and family members to know such intimate, personal details about my life? Apparently we don’t mind this risk, and that’s quite surprising. Is it that bloggernackers have a divided personality — exhibitionist and voyeuristic online; prim and sedate while at church?
Finally, I wonder what (if anything) is lost in the disjunct. It seems strange that as a group we may be willing to discuss sex, fertility, abortion, and all manner of related topics, with people who we’ve never actually met — Nate Oman and Rosalynde Welch and Adam Greenwood and even Ned Flanders — but not with our home teachers. What exactly does that say about us?
Anyway, I would elaborate further on the topic, but I’ve got to run to the store to pick up some chocolate truffles.