Society
Society

Brigham Young University Student Claims School is Slut-Shaming Females

| by Michael Allen

Keli Byers, a sophomore at Brigham Young University (BYU), recently wrote an article in which she called for the Mormon-based college to change its rules requiring single students to abstain from sex until marriage.

Byers, who hails from Washington State, told Cosmopolitan magazine that she was raised Mormon, which created conflict "because I'm a sexual person. My mom found my vibrator when I was 15. I had to talk to a bishop about it because Mormons aren't supposed to masturbate."

Byers also recalled that she was sexually assaulted by a man in his 20s when she was 15: "I told my parents and our bishop, and I was banned from church for a month. I was punished because a man had touched me."

Byers admits that when she came to BYU that she agreed to the school's honor code, including living a "chaste life."

However, Byers later joined the Young Mormon Feminists, which she says holds discussions about how BYU is "slut-shaming" with its modest dress code for women "to supposedly to help men control their thoughts."

She credits the Young Mormon Feminists for assisting her in reclaiming her "sexuality and realize my sexual assault wasn't my fault."

Byers claims that sexual opportunities exist between students at BYU, but occur off campus.

She adds: "The truth is, I'm not a virgin. I'm a sexual woman and a proud feminist, and I don't feel bad about it. But it's hard to admit that, because women at BYU who aren't virgins are treated as inferiors and that's not fair."

"BYU needs to know that it's OK for women to be sexual, and it's not OK to punish them for it. I care enough about this school to want to push for change. I'd rather be judged and scrutinized than silenced and shamed," states Byers.

However, the group that Byers credits with sending her in this direction, the Young Mormon Feminists, has publicly distanced itself from her.

The Young Mormon Feminists (YMF) write on their web site:

Young Mormon Feminists was organized in 2012 as a safe space for younger Mormons navigating issues of faith and feminism.  We are not affiliated with BYU. We are not an on-campus club, nor do we have any official ties to BYU. At the same time, neither are we banned from campus as some stories have implied.

...There are no organized efforts by YMF, or by any individuals that I know of, to challenge BYU’s policy regarding the law of chastity. The enforcement of sexual chastity through the BYU campus honor code is a difficult subject and that enforcement has disproportionate impacts on women. But sensationalizing this issue does not help us.

Samantha Shelley, of the conservative MillennialMormons.com, slammed Byers:

Do you think schools should commend slutty behavior? I can’t even fathom how you can think badly of anyone who doesn’t support that. No loving parent supports sluttiness, and neither should a school.

...Sorry, but your “meet guys on Tinder and go do sexual stuff with them at Squaw Peak” approach to dating isn’t my idea of romance or love. I am proud to have attended BYU-Idaho, where chastity is promoted because of how important it is to God.

“BYU needs to know that it’s OK for women to be sexual” – Yes it is, but when the time is right. When it’s within the boundaries of marriage. How can you call yourself a member of the church of Jesus Christ when you don’t accept one of his fundamental teachings?

Shelley also criticized Byers for her claims that the Mormon Church banned her after the sexual assault:

Even those who are excommunicated aren’t banned from going to church. How dare you claim that the church would ever respond like that to sexual assault – something which is so very condemned. Because it’s against the Law of Chastity you so publicly enjoy debasing at the expense of the school you’re being HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED TO ATTEND.

If you were sexually assaulted, then I am truly sorry. That is a horrible thing to happen to anyone and I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you. But don’t you realize that the Law of Chastity completely condemns anything remotely like sexual assault?

Don’t blame God’s standard of chastity, for that is the very law that would have saved you, had that young man kept it. There are awful people in this world and it makes me sick thinking of girls being assaulted. But all the more reason to cling to the Law of Chastity and protect your virtue. If everyone in the world did that, there would be no sexual assault.

Sources: MillennialMormons.com, Cosmopolitan, Young Mormon Feminists