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Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. Holly Welker, author of Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex and Marriage, about this collection of essays she painstakingly edited. They discuss how Holly became interested in this project through the observation of her own parents’ Mormon marriage, with the catalyst being the death of her mother. And how her curiosity about women, in particular, are affected by their faith journeys within the constructs of their courtships, marriages and sexuality. Are they satisfied? Are they content? Do they experience and prioritize sexual pleasure? From devoted voices to those who have walked away from their faith traditions, Holly does a beautiful job of alerting us to some of the many themes that came up throughout this project — the difficulty many Mormon women have in separating motherhood from being a wife, the interplay between sex and marriage, the role libido differences and unsatisfying sexual experiences play, infidelity, how faith transitions can affect partnered sex, lesbian relationships and even domestic violence. A podcast like this can be quite normalizing for many within the faith to help them understand the many challenges and successes members face. And for those who are motivated to learn more about the Mormon culture (especially non-LDS mental health professionals who work with Mormon clients) this is a great overview of some of the themes found within. She and several of the contributors will be doing some book readings in the upcoming month: The King’s English in Salt Lake City on September 21 at 7:00 pm and Writ and Vision on September 22.
Dr. Holly Welker is a writer and editor who received an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona, an MFA in nonfiction writing and a PhD in English literature from the University of Iowa. Her poetry and prose have appeared in dozens of publications ranging from Best American Essays to Bitch to Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought to Poetry International to the New York Times. She grew up in southern Arizona, the descendant of Mormon pioneers. She is also one of the coeditors of Singing and Dancing to The Book of Mormon: Critical Essays on the Broadway Musical.
Mentioned during the podcast:
Minding the Body: Women Writers on Body and Soul by Patricia Foster
The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage by Cathi Hanauer
The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom by Daniel Jones
Thank you to Jeff Meyers for the intro and Peter & Mary Danzig of Otter Creek Duo for the concluding bumper music.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST, CSTS can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, is the current past president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.