Chad Hardy of Nevada, excommunicated several months ago by the Church of Jesus Christ and Latterday Saints has now had his diploma revoked from Bringham Young University for publishing his “Men on a Mission” calendar featuring fully clothed and shirtless pictures of male Mormon missionaries.
The excommunication happened some months ago, but the revocation of the diploma was a recent development. I’m fascinated by the story for its weird expression of double standards. Compare an excommunication-worthy picture from the offending calendar:
…and this nude of Eliza Dushku, an observant enough Mormon to continue to abstain from alcohol:
I see two defining differences between the piece, which explains why one is an excommunicable offense, and the other good ol’ fashioned, wholesome objectification material. Dushku is not being framed in a Mormon context, unlike Hardy’s “Men on a Mission,” an explicit attempt to reframe Mormon sexuality in the popular imagination:
The calendar was intended to shake up the stuffy, cookie-cutter stereotype often associated with Mormons, Hardy said.
I can’t believe gay hysteria didn’t also play a role in the Church’s decision. To be the subject of cheesecake photography has traditionally been solely a feminine function. When men transgress the boundary of photographic aesthetic objectification–and all the preening, makeup, waxing, and wardrobe quibbling it entails–is met with the suspicion and hostility transgression of gender roles usually are. In other words, mostwould be quicker to assume a man compiling a sexy calendar with men would be assumed to be exclusively homosexual far quicker than a woman compiling a girly swimsuit pictorial would be believed to be a lesbian.
(Someone will probably call me out for my umbrage at the “Poll Dancing” cover yesterday and implicit disappointment in BYU and the LDS’s church’s respective descisions. But note I never called for the resignation of the Journal’s editors.)
Furthermore, excommunication doesn’t seem like a mature way to deal with degradation of an institution’s image. Banishing someone who haven’t committed an offense worthy of incarceration from the institutions of a culture is unconstructive and damaging to the social cohesion religions are so dedicated to fostering.
My sentences have far too many words crammed into far too clauses, so I should probably stop right now and let our commentators fill in the gaps.