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Friday, July 20, 2007

Sexism In The LDS Church

Since the subject of racism in the LDS church was brought up in my previous post, I decided to talk about another type of discrimination that has and still exists in the LDS church and that is sexism.
Gender Roles In Mormonism

The LDS church is definitely gender specific when it comes to roles, particularly in parenting.

According to the Marriage and Family Relations Study Guide, The roles of men and women are different. The primary responsibilities of men are to provide for the material needs and spiritual leadership as the priesthood holder. The primary responsibility of women is to stay at home and nurture the children.

The problem here is that when a woman is financially dependent on a man, she pretty much has to be subordinate to the man. The other issue is that under this model, if the woman is in an abusive relationship, it is more difficult for her to leave if she is once again financially dependent on her husband.

Women And The Priesthood

Why are women denied the priesthood? I grew up with the idea that women were much more in tune with the spirit. If that is the case, you would think that they would be the ones that were running God's church. Not only that, but how can women enter into the celestial kingdom without the priesthood?

Women being denied the priesthood is against the teachings of Joesph Smith. According to some LDS historians, women received the priesthood under Joseph Smith as part of the temple endowment. Although women have never held priesthood offices, women could administer to the sick and afflicted with the priesthood under Joseph Smith. Once again, Brigham Young is the one that changed this doctrine.

The Community in Christ (formerly known as RLDS) continues the original teaching of Joseph Smith by continuing the practice of giving women the priesthood, but they have recently taken it a step further by allowing them to hold positions in the priesthood leadership.

Perhaps women will be able to hold the priesthood one day in the LDS church just as they did in the early church under Joseph Smith. Future generations will probably look at the church today and wonder why we were so sexist. However, it is no different than looking back at how blacks were denied the priesthood. Many people at the time didn't see it as being racist, just as a majority of Mormons, including women, do not consider it sexist that women are denied the priesthood.

Many say that men have the priesthood organization and women have the relief society and therefore they have equal treatment. However, the big difference is that the relief society does not have any leadership roles except within the relief society itself, whereas the priesthood organization is in a position of power and authority over the whole church.

Male Depictions In Mormonism

When you look at how men are depicted in Mormonism, they are exaggeratedly masculine, strong and beefy as demonstrated in the widely accepted Arnold Friberg paintings.












Phallic Symbols In Mormonism

Many people have pointed out that Captain Moroni's sword sheath is a phallic symbol. If it was not intended as being a phallic symbol, it is an unfortunate coincidence to say the least.













Many also see the tabernacle as phallic, although I think it was more influence of freemasonry, because like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young was also a Mason. You can compare a picture of the Mormon Tabernacle and on George Washington's Masonic apron and see obvious similarities.







Female Depictions In Mormonism

In Mormonism artwork including modern day statues, women are fragile fully covered submissive and almost asexual creatures with little distinguishing physical features. The hypocrisy is that the pictures of the men are very sexually explicit. There is a definite distinction between the roles of men and women as depicted in these two paintings. You have the men in the center gathering around Lehi and the Liahona as if they are the decision makers. You can see Lehi's wife Sariah in the background waiting to be told where to go and 2 women, presumably the daughters of Ishmael standing to the side. In the other painting, the submissive women are seeking comfort from the men as it is obvious that men are the ones in charge of the ship. It appears that the women are just there for the companionship or the ride. Either way, women have no positions of leadership or authority because after all, they are women, right?


Gender Roles In Heaven

Regardless of current attempts by the LDS church leaders to distance themselves from polygamy, it is still part of the core doctrine of the church that there will be polygamy in heaven. There are an equal number of men and women that have lived on the earth, so once again, this implies that women are much more spiritual than men. That will cause the celestial demographics to be lopsided. And yet once again, I ask the question if women are that much better, more worthy, more spiritual and closer to God by nature, why don't they have a say in what takes place on Earth or heaven?

What exactly is the role of women in the celestial kingdom? Let's say you are a woman and make it into the Celestial Kingdom. What will your responsibility be? Since God is perfect, one can only assume that the current model is the one and only way things can be, otherwise it wouldn't be perfect. It looks like the role of women in the celestial kingdom will be the same as mindless cattle-to produce offspring. Although if they are lucky enough, they might get mentioned in one verse of a hymn, but they still have no say in what goes on in the worlds their husbands create. I guess they will be like the daughters of Ishmael in the Book of Mormon- they will be referenced but will bear no real importance to the story except to serve the men.

Disillusioned Mormon

31 comments:

Bishop Rick said...

This post brings up 2 points of discussion.

Well exactly what have you heard of Heavenly Mother? Not sure what you've heard, but I've heard nothing. That could be because we don't know which Heavenly Mother is OUR mother (due to polygamy) or because women are still subordinate in the C Kingdom.

In either case, all women have to look forward to is being wife number 387 to Heber C Whatever.

Religion in general (LDS included) was written by men, about men, and for men. This is an indisputable fact.

NM said...

Just noticed some photographs that Jeff posted on his Mormanity site. Is this like a one-off celebration or does this kind of thing happen every year or something?

Zelph said...

NM- Yes, the hill Cumorah pageant happens every year.

Elder Joseph said...

I wonder what the Hill Cumorah Pagent is all about since their were no Nephite/Lamenite battles there, they didn't exist either in the first place and the American Indians are not the decendants of (Israeli) Lamanites .....

So why sing about a book thats obviousley flawed and Time has finally caught out.....

In a way I wish it could of been different as I love going to church, but unfortunately I've concluded its 'false' historically and I feel sorry for all those involved in the tragedy of polygamy ( women foremostly ) as they were 'called' into it .It makes me cringe and especially because the church is happy to sweep their memories under the carpet as it sanitises its DVD's and Books free of any mention or honour to them for their sacrifice.

The church leaders should be ashamed of themselves.

tatabug said...

Just as a perspective from a woman's point of view--I don't feel like there is sexism in the church. I am quite content with the positions of women within the church. As a teenager, I will admit that I was a bit bothered that I couldn't hold the priesthood. I did see it as a bit sexist. I grew up with the notion that "anything boys can do, girls can do better." I was a bit of a tomboy and so I liked beating boys in physical competitions. I guess my biggest "beef" with God is that men are stronger than women. That really gets me. However, I got over the priesthood thing. I feel great joy and satisfaction in my role as a mother. I've had leadership positions in the church, and let me tell you, I am ambivalent towards them. There are things about them that I enjoy, and then there are others that I don't. They are a great burden, and a responsibility that I am happy to see others fill. The priesthood is a huge responsibility. It's not a responsibility I think I could fulfill well while also fulfilling my responsibilities as a mother. I've also seen my husband terribly distressed because of disciplinary councils he's had to attend. That's not a burden I want to bear. As far as women being more sensitive and spiritual, that may be true, but I think that the priesthood gives men the opportunity to strengthen those qualities within themselves. I also think it is amazing how young men "grow up" when they go on missions. I think it is wisdom for us to be given opportunities to work hard in order to reach our potential, and God knows just what we need.

I was floored by the references to phallic symbolism. Honestly, Zelph, is there any angle you won't try to exploit? That is just simply ridiculous. Oh look, I have a crayon here on my desk. It looks like a phallic symbol. So does my broom. So does the joystick on my computer desk. Oh and look, there's a statue holding a gun at the hip. That certainly looks phallic to me. Need I go on? Show me where you won't find phallic symbols randomly, Zelph. This issue and the issue regarding paintings in the church and the sexuality of men vs. the non-sexuality of women depicted are not even worthy of discussion.

With regard to women's roles in heaven, I resent the fact that you call motherhood a mindless responsibility. WOW! No sexism in that now is there? I am offended.

Jeremy said...

BR, there is at least one hymn that talks about a heaven mother but it doesn't reveal any sort of gospel. I recall once someone explained that we don't talk about her because of the sacredness. I thought that was a lame way of saying "I don't know".

Tata, I'm somewhat surprised that you don't have a stronger opinion about women's rights. Don't you feel that you are more important than just being a baby factory? Don't get me wrong but being a mother is very important but moms can do much more than just make babies. Just a random comment that's all...

Hey Look everyone, I finally logged into my account.

Zelph said...

tatabug,

I also am a little surprised as I thought you might have an opinion regarding sexism in the church. Would you agree that there does exist abuse of priesthood power and authority in some cases? I know I have seen it in many cases first hand.

The problem isn't having gender specific responsibilities. I can see the functionality it presents in having the roles clearly defined. However, these roles should be mutually accepted and they might change from couple to couple. The other problem is that the priesthood will always be the trump card in establishing dominance in the relationship, because it is something the wife can not have in the LDS church.

What do you think about the original temple endowment that gave women the priesthood vs. today? Don't you think that if there is a celestial kingdom and both men and women enter into it that they will both have the priesthood? That was the purpose of giving it to women in the early days of the church, to prepare them for exaltation. However, as I said, there was always a distinction between the priesthood and the priesthood offices.

I don't want to say that motherhood is mindless. Parenthood is a very noble calling in life. I also think that it is hogwash for people to say that it is more important for the mother to be in the home than the father. My wife and I each work part-time and share responsibilities raising our kids. My daughter loves and I mean LOVES having her daddy around the house, as well as her mom in the afternoon. To say that she would be better off if I was gone all day is ridiculous.

Anyways, the point is I wasn't talking about parenthood, or motherhood, I was talking about the role women play in heaven. What role does heavenly mother have on us as far as parenting? Absolutely none, and that is the point I was making, is that women have no say in anything that takes place. They don't give instructions to their spiritual children, they don't get worshiped and they are only mentioned very rarely. Women in the celestial kingdom do not participate in parenthood and THAT is the point I was making.

I agree with you that many people see phallic symbols in anything, and if you read my post, I am a little skeptical myself, I thought I would bring it up since it is a question that has always been on my mind.

It is still clear that the depictions of men are over-exaggerated.

tatabug said...

Jeremy,

Yes I do believe I am more than a baby factory. Especially considering that I've only churned out three with no plans for more, so that wouldn't make for much of a factory now would it? I believe that there are many opportunities for me to contribute in the church, and I do. As for women's rights, I have plenty thank you very much. My husband can't give birth to children or nurse them, and I can't hold the priesthood. I think we're even.

Zelph,

I am not personally aware of abuse of priesthood power and authority. I don't doubt that it exists, but that type of abuse would be contrary to the teachings of the Church. That would be as a result of imperfect members, and not a reflection of the Church as a whole.

I am mutually accepting of things how they are. If someone isn't they are free to go where they are allowed to hold the priesthood.

As far as the issue of the original endowment, I don't know enough about that topic. I also don't know of any doctrine that specifically outlines the role women will play in heaven. If you know of any such doctrine, please feel free to share it with me. We don't even know for sure the process through which spirit children will be born, if that is even an accurate description. I don't know for sure what role women will play in heaven, but I am confident that I will be happy. If I'm not, I can probably find somewhere else to go. After all, I wouldn't consider heaven to be a sort of prison for anyone.

Here is just a little speculation on my part, but have you ever thought about the Holy Ghost? Couldn't the qualities of the Holy Ghost be considered quite feminine? Even if the Holy Ghost isn't Heavenly Mother, since it is a personage of spirit and not a resurrected being, is it possible that she has something to do with it? Just a thought that I've had for a while, though unsupported by anything doctrinal. Just because we don't know what impact Heavenly Mother has had on us, doesn't mean she hasn't. Who knows what we may have learned from her before our life here. Who knows for sure what role she actually fills? Who knows for sure what any of us will do? We have very limited knowledge of these things.

Also, I don't lessen the importance of a father in a child's life. I think that the more time a child can spend with its father, the better. However families decide to structure things is for them to decide, but in most cases the assigned roles, given as far back as Adam and Eve, work the best. But that is my opinion.

Bishop Rick said...

In reading the BofM (which I have at least a dozen times) there is almost no mention of women. The few that are mentioned by name are role playing extras at best.

The things that jump out at me regarding the BofM narrative are:

1) There is almost no dialogue about the peaceful times.

2) There is almost no dialogue about women.

This is a testosterone filled story about the exploits of men.

Still Firm said...

Since this is all about sexism, perhaps, BR, one should consider that the reason there is little dialogue about peaceful times and that there is no dialogue about women is that men were the ones writing it and they are insecure (at best) about their roles in life and there is not really any dialogue about peaceful times because the men were in charge and they are constantly having a testosterone battle amongst themselves... perhaps women being in charge would have changed the focus of the BOM altogether...

Bishop Rick said...

still firm,

I couldn't agree more.

Zelph said...

Which goes back to my question on why women don't have the preisthood.

Jeremy said...

A friend of mine has always questioned this so I've decided to see what I could dig up.

I found this quote here...

"The extreme gender imbalance in Mormonism re-emerges in Utah's masculinist culture, where government, education and business are run by Mormon men in the shadow of Salt Lake's tallest building, the LDS church offices. In Utah, women as well as men repress the feminine, starve it and then overcompensate: We crave sweet and fatty foods for comfort; we gain weight to feel loved; men act effeminate and women self-destruct with prescription drugs, obesity, depression and too many kids. Hostility to women manifests in subtle and shocking ways. Apostle Boyd Packer said, "I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them."

I decided that this paragraph was the most interesting because periodically the news stations produce large investigative reports on the topics mentioned. Anyway, go read the full article.

NM said...

Whenever there is a clear and observable difference between two sets of groups, there will always be prejudice. We get our individual IN other people, i.e. I am a dad because of my children, I am a son because of my parents, a husband because of my wife, I do this, that n' the other etc. In the same way that we define who we are by what we are, we also define ourselves by what we are not.

It's tragic that sexism occurs, or racism or whatever. But these things exist everywhere in general society.

The beauty of such things when translated to the Bible (coming from a Biblical Christian's perspective, of course) is that God clearly intends there to be equal-ness between man and woman...but just as there is order in the universe, God intended there to be order between the two sexes. Both are beautiful in God's sight, they are after all His creation...

...it is just that God intends there to be order. Just as the wife submits to the husband, the husband willingly submits to Christ who is the head....etc, etc...

tatabug said...

Jeremy,

I have a hard time believing that Boyd K. Packer said that. I would like a more reliable source for that comment before I believe it. Sounds like a little, no a lot, of creative license was taken with that one.

I've also heard of the statistics with regard to the comments in that quote, which are not portrayed accurately at all by certain agenda groups (I'm sure you know who I'm referring to), but the reality is, that compared to the rest of the country, there is less depression and such in Utah.

I don't really know why women don't hold the priesthood, nor is it a concern to me. I trust that God is in control, and if He sees a need for women to hold the priesthood, I will accept it. However, if that time never comes it will not matter to me.

Zelph,

I'm not sure why you are so concerned that women can't hold the priesthood. Are you in some way affected by that?

nm,

Excellent comment.

Bishop Rick said...

Hmm, if you believe nm's statement regarding order, you would have to believe that men run everything because they are bigger, faster, stronger, and that God made it this way for a reason.

That may have been true in the hunter/gatherer days, but brawn is no longer needed in this day and age, yet male dominance continues.

tatabug said...

Brawn is no longer needed? Hmm. So there aren't jobs out in the world that require heavy lifting? I guess when men stop producing testosterone, then there will be no more physical disparity between men and women, but will they still be able to father children? Hmm.

Do you remember in the BofM where it talked about the women becoming as strong as the men while they journeyed in the wilderness? I'm not sure it's relevant, but I just thought I would bring it up. I really like that part and it is somewhat related to this subject. It's found in Nephi 17:2 if you're interested in reading about it.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Tatabug wrote, Just as a perspective from a woman's point of view--I don't feel like there is sexism in the church.

What exactly is your definition of sexism? Sexism is discrimination by members of one sex against the other based on the assumption that one sex is superior.

The thing that gravels me about the priesthood "authority" and roles they dole out to women and men is that it is so uneven. Women are taught that their one divine role in life and eternity is to be a "mother in zion." Yet boys are given the POWER TO ACT IN GOD'S NAME at the young and immature age of 12. AND they get to enjoy the same divine and only role women get (fatherhood) while also receiving the priesthood power to act in God's name, which includes divine authority to preside over their homes and over the church, and over their women. Boys are constantly reminded of the importance of their power, and of the responsibilities such an important power gives them, and they know full well that this priesthood power is what will give them their power as Gods in the next life.

Men are given authority to preside over their homes and in church. Women are to support the priesthood holders in all their righteous pursuits. They preside over nothing. Everything you do in church focuses on this priesthood authority and the "order" that has been established. Then women like Tatabug ~ along with countless other women in the church ~ say, "But I don't want that kind of responsibility. I don't MIND that they have the responsibility of the priesthood. It's a ton of work. Why would I even WANT it? I'm busy enough as it is!"

I know countless women in the church who would be ten times better at being bishop, stake president, ward clerk, ward mission leader, etc. than the men I've see do it. Yet it is assumed they aren't capable of doing these important jobs simply because they are women.

The nature of how they gift the priesthood to men and not to women simply because of their anatomy is morally wrong. Do you actually think that men are more qualified or more capable to serve in leadership positions in the church? Do you really think men are more qualified and more capable of determining budgets? Do you think men are more qualified and more capable of offering counsel to those in need or those who have sinned or those who suffer abuse? Do you feel that men are more qualified and more capable of interviewing members and determining their temple worthiness? Do you feel that men are more qualified and more capable to dole out disciplinary action? Because in all of these examples, that is what the church believes.

It's not a responsibility I think I could fulfill well while also fulfilling my responsibilities as a mother...

Yet you think men can fulfill this responsibility well while also fulfilling their responsibilities as a father. Why is that?

I am quite content with the positions of women within the church.

What do you think the position of women within the church is, exactly?

As far as I can tell from looking at the Proclamation to the Family, women are given the divine role of being a mother, under the authority of her husband. Period. Nothing else is considered a worthy pursuit. What does this do for women who are not asked to be married? What does this do for women who are unable to bear children? What does this do for women who know they wouldn't make good mothers? The entire church looks down on women who choose to not have children. It simply isn't "right" in the eyes of the church, as spoken by the men who speak for the Lord. Ugh. Girls are not encouraged to seek anything beyond that which will help them be a better wife amd mother in Zion. Any education they are encouraged to pursue is not encouraged so they can be a contributing member of society, it's so they can use the knowledge to help raise their children. Men are encouraged to do and be whatever they want to be. Do you not see the insidious and harmful nature of this?

Boys turn 12 and they are asked to come forward during Sacrament Mtg to be recognized by the bishop as having been interviewed and found worthy to hold the priesthood in the office of a deacon. The same boy's twin sister sits in the congregation and gets nothing. No recognition for her. And the girls get to watch the boys bless and pass the sacrament, collect fast offerings, fulfil sacred priesthood duties, while they get nothing of the sort to show them they have worth. They get to aspire to doing household chores, laundry, cooking, carrying babies in their bodies, enduring the pain of childbirth, and being home with said children all day long while the boys do the important stuff that matters. The stuff that pays. The stuff that tells them they are awesome and of worth. Women are expected to endure this no matter what they may desire for themselves. If they don't, they are reminded constantly that they are not following God's plan for them.

Those who argue that men are gifted the priesthood power because women are able to have babies and men can't are IDIOTS. If my superpower is having babies, then I share the same exact superpower that cows, rats, and sows have.

Jeremy said...

I approve of the previous comment. Well stated, very clear and best of all came from woman. (well, that last one I just assumed)

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Damn right I'm a woman, Jeremy. :)

Jeremy said...

Good to know, makes your post all the better.

tatabug said...

Sister Mary Lisa,

I don't have time to completely read your comment and respond to it right now. I'm not even sure it was directed to me. I only saw my name with regard to a comment I made. However, I am getting ready to go out of town, and when I return I will get back to you. I just don't want you to think I am ignoring you.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I said all I did in my previous post and want to clarify that I am very glad to be a mother.

I just resent the fact the church gives women grief when they work, or aspire to choose something BESIDES motherhood and housewifery for themselves.

I would venture a guess that some Mormons who read my thoughts may think I'm just a power-hungry shrew to say what I've dared to say. I don't wish for power, just a system that doesn't thrive on keeping women suppressed and invalidated from birth til death.

Bishop Rick said...

Well there you go...next topic.

tatabug said...

The church does not teach that women are inferior to men. I'm sorry you believe that if you aren't given every single right and priviledge of a man, that makes you inferior. Are you also upset that you can't pee standing up or write your name in the snow?

I have had no experience being discriminated against, but instead have received the greatest kindness, respect, and appreciation from the men in the Church. Much more than I can say from the men in general society.

The roles of men and women are not uneven, they are different.

Young women are also reminded of their divine roles and potential and their importance to the kingdom of God. Men may become Gods and women may become Goddesses. Women preside over the Relief Society which is a branch of the priesthood. They also preside in Young Women and Primary, and there are numerous other callings available to them. They are also able to give talks and prayers and serve missions.

It isn't a matter of capability or incapability. No one has said that. It is the order that God has established. I don't know why and it doesn't bother me. Yes I would like to understand it better, and someday I will. If you have a problem with things as they are, take it up with God. He's the one in charge.

So someone has to take care of babies and children. Or should we just ship them all off to daycare? Then who would do that job since it is too demeaning to consider important? Or is it only important if you are educated in that field and are able to make money at it? What really matters is the important money making stuff, right? That's what really matters. We should all be out there doing whatever fulfills us and makes us great in the eyes of the world. It is all about self-gratification. Who cares about the kids? That is not important work.

Fortunately, if you don't like how things are, you can get out. If you believe in the Church, then you need to reconcile your issues. This isn't a democracy. The laws are God's laws and only He can make those changes. I suspect you are not an active member of the Church and that if this policy were to change, you would probably not be racing back to receive the priesthood, so why does it matter to you? It sounds like just another jab at the Church for you to get in.

And yes, you do sound like a shrew.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Why so defensive, Tata? I didn't say one untrue thing here about the role women are expected to play, nor about the power and dominion men are granted by virtue of their sex alone.

Why do you think that only WOMEN should be the ones taking care of the children? Is it because your church has told you your God deems it your duty? Why can't fathers be just as qualified to raise children? They are. Why can't mothers be just as qualified to hold the priesthood, especially since they too will become priestesses in the next life? They are qualified every bit as much as men are.

I never once called motherhood demeaning as you implied. Raising children is a noble thing, and a worthy endeavor. I admire anyone who is able to do it well. What I disagree with is the church telling all women that that is the one worthy thing they are to dedicate their time to, that any other pursuit is going against the wishes of God. That's morally wrong, and it attacks the self worth of countless women in the church today.

You said, "The church does not teach that women are inferior to men." The definition of inferior (from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, page 365) is 1. Situated under or beneath; 2. Low or lower in order, degree, or rank. - A person of lesser rank or status than others.

Will a woman ever be allowed to be branch president, bishop, stake president, area president, Seventy, general authority, president of the church? No. Is a MAN to "preside over his family" as stated in the Proclamation to the Family? Yes. Definition of preside: to possess or exercise authority or control. Women in the LDS church will always be inferior to men, if you follow the way "God's laws" are set up.

Speaking of presiding, it's not any woman who presides over the Relief Society, or Primary, or Young Womens organization. All those organizations are presided over by priesthood authority, and you know it. The women may be doing the work, but they are not in charge with full authority.

You also said, "Or is it only important if you are educated in that field and are able to make money at it? What really matters is the important money making stuff, right? That's what really matters."

Go back and re-read what I wrote, Tata. I did not speak of money being important. I spoke of women's interests and pursuits being considered unworthy or unimportant. If a married LDS woman who's capable of bearing children seeks to do anything that gives her recognition, status, prestige, power, control, fulfillment, joy, happiness, satisfaction - in lieu of choosing motherhood - she is not following the one valid pursuit that the church teaches she should be following. And you know it. This is morally wrong.

But you don't see it that way because you feel that God has designed this for you. I see it as the design of old-fashioned men who seek to keep women suppressed because that's how society was for a long time, since the days where men were superior in physical strength, and women were dependent upon their skills of bringing food home.

Would your husband really treat you differently if you were granted the priesthood too? No, not if he's a good man, which I'm sure he is. Would your ward really fall apart if a female bishop presided and conducted Sacrament Meeting? No. Would it really mess things up to have a 12 year old girl passing the sacrament? No. Would it really be horrible to see a mother bless her baby, with the father at her side in the prayer circle? No. Would a baptism really not be performed well if a mother were saying the prayer in the font, vs. her husband? No. Would the family unit fall apart if women were encouraged to follow their dreams? No.

Tatabug, I do not sound like a shrew, but I predicted you might say so. You are entitled to your opinion, of course. I am actually calmly expressing how it feels to be given only one "worthy" pursuit to follow in my life simply because I was born with a uterus that works.

Bishop Rick said...

Discrimination is discrimination, no matter what form it takes and no matter under what authority.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Tatabug ~

Something else you said stood out to me: "We should all be out there doing whatever fulfills us and makes us great in the eyes of the world. It is all about self-gratification."

Is this REALLY what you feel about your husband and his efforts in the workplace? Really? Do you honestly feel that is what your female friends at church who work outside the home are doing? Do you feel that men who aren't househusbands are working away from home because of self-gratification?

Wow.

tatabug said...

Fotunately, you have the freedom to pursue a career if you choose, even within the church. I'm sorry you felt guilt because of this. I think we are inclined to feel this way anytime our desires are different from what God expects of us. You can view this guilt as bad if you want, but I see it as necessary. If we didn't feel guilt, we wouldn't have a conscience, and we wouldn't feel it necessary to follow any kind of moral code. It isn't inherently bad for a woman to pursue a career, but if she is doing it out of desire rather than necessity, then I can see a problem. Whether you agree or not, this life is about improving ourselves and sacrifice is a huge part of that. In a more practical sense, sacrifice builds character, and sacrificing one's desire for a career is a noble sacrifice in my opinion. There are times when I want to be doing something more "important," as you like to say, but most of the time, I am so thankful to be doing what I am doing. I am so thankful that our family is in a position for me to stay at home with my children, because I know that if I were in the workplace, I would long to be with my children, even in spite of their constant bickering and fighting, and nagging and whining. That is where my heart is. I have found other ways to stimulate myself intellectually, because that is probably a big part of why I sometimes long to be doing something else.

I think a lot of the stigma attached to housewives or stay-at-home moms, or in essence women who choose not to pursue a career, has been created by society, and the feminist movement specifically. It doesn't feel good to be devalued by society. And it creates a great deal of pressure for women to be all things to all people. We have to be great moms on the one hand and also be career women. And it is a difficult thing to do both well. I don't think most women can do them both well. I know I couldn't. Someone or something will suffer.

With regard to my husband's career, no, I don't feel he is doing it for selfish reasons. He would love to have more time to spend at home, but he readily admits that he'd go crazy if he didn't have a job. My whole point in that paragraph you took such issue with, was in regard to your statement that "girls get to watch the boys bless and pass the sacrament, collect fast offerings, fulfil sacred priesthood duties, while they get nothing of the sort to show them they have worth. They get to aspire to doing household chores, laundry, cooking, carrying babies in their bodies, enduring the pain of childbirth, and being home with said children all day long while the boys do the important stuff that matters. The stuff that pays. The stuff that tells them they are awesome and of worth." You said the stuff men and boys do is the stuff that matters; the stuff that pays. I personally think this is a pathetic way to view motherhood; to basically say that it doesn't really matter, and I was insulted by that statement. And yes, to pursue a career out of desire rather than need is a self-gratifying pursuit. If ANYONE-man or woman-pursues a career over taking care of their children when it isn't a necessity, it is self-gratification in my opinion.

I know I've spent a lot of time on the issue of motherhood vs. career, and the primary issue is priesthood, but there really isn't anything to argue about that. God's law is changeable only by Him. The priesthood is and always has been given only to men from the beginning of time, and other Churches also keep that tradition as well. While some allow women positions of authority, probably in an effort to placate and ensure themselves greater membership. If a Church changes it's rules for such reasons when they are contrary to God's laws, they are not even close to being true. If we think we can bend God's will to meet ours, we are mistaken and foolish. If you can't see the wisdom of God and His great love for us all, then I feel sorry for you. I hope you find peace somewhere after this life, because you won't want it with Him.

tatabug said...

Oh, and another thing, there isn't anyone in the Church at any level who is not accountable to someone. Everyone, even the prophet, answers to someone, so that completely eliminates the possibility of full authority by anyone. But as an unbeliever, I can see why you would feel that the prophet has full reign and authority. On that point, however, we will just have to disagree.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

It is not right for the church leadership or God or anyone to tell half of its members that they are only allowed one worthy role in life to choose if they are to be considered righteous. That's no choice at all: You may choose to be a mother in Zion (and gain God's approval) or not (and lose your place in Heaven near him). That's preposterous, and dangerous to the mental health of many LDS women.

It is insidious in that it is taught so openly that men expect the same from women as the church does. It's encouraged that women be submissive, meek, obedient to the priesthood leaders and the men. I know that this appeals to you, but to some women it hurts and gives them a diminished sense of self-worth, something that you say God himself wishes for his girl children. Any married LDS woman who isn't a mother but could be is found lacking by her priesthood leaders, peers, and you. It is assumed that she is being selfish, choosing a path that God wouldn't want her to choose. Women and men are taught that women should make this noble sacrifice in order to prove they are righteous.

That's just plain wrong.

And, for the record, I don't ever find a woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom lacking. You think there is stigma attached to such women by me and feminists and society. I heartily disagree. The majority of mothers at my daughter's elementary school are SAHMs and I have never judged them nor have I thought they were pathetic for choosing this. I think they are lucky, especially if they willingly chose such things for themselves, with actual options to choose between. But when an LDS girl is taught from the time she's a little girl that the ONLY righteous thing she SHOULD choose is to be a SAHM, then there's something wrong. When even more pressure is added to that girl by telling her GOD HIMSELF will be displeased if she doesn't choose that one thing - when she is taught that sacrificing her own dreams, desires, goals, talents, and abilities is expected of her, then I cannot support and condone it. I find the church lacking in morality to give all women only one choice in what they should be doing with their lives, and openly teaching everyone that should she waver from that one role in any way, she is sinning and risking her eternal salvation.

That's morally wrong.

Good for you that you're happy. I don't seek to take anyone's happiness away. I seek justice for those who ARE unhappy with the system as it is laid out for women in the church.

Sexism is morally wrong, made even more wrong by being forced on women in the name of God.