Today, while I was updating my knowledge on current Feminism-related events, I stumbled across the following quote:
Y’know, lately I’ve been so frustrated every Sabbath when I sit down in the pews and just wait for a speaker or teacher to say something that will stir up my Feminist rage. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been attending my church meetings with the expectation that somebody will say something offensive, oppressive, or degrading about the role of women in the Gospel. It’s as if I’m subconsciously, yet actively searching for someone to affront me.
It’s stunting my spiritual growth.
I don’t remember who said it, but we all know that quote that goes something like, “no one can offend you without your consent.” All of this consenting people to offend me with their derogatory comments and insisting that a woman’s place is strictly in the home is getting rather exhausting.
Why do I allow these people to affect my relationship with my church and my God? Who cares if Brother or Sister so-and-so don’t approve with my views on what my role as a daughter of God are? The only approval that matters to me is the approval of my Heavenly Parents. (Notice I said parents, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that I have a Heavenly Mother as well.)
The God I am coming to know wants me to be happy. The God I know won’t repeal the incomprehensible love He has for me if I decide to pursue work outside of the home. Because what matters to me matters to Him.
The God I am coming to know loves me as much as he loves my brethren, and knows that I am just as capable as they are in achieving anything I put my mind and energy into, and He encourages me to reach my full potential in every dream I pursue.
So go ahead and keep trying to nudge me toward the ‘mommy track.’ Continue preaching your Relief Society lessons on the cruciality of being a submissive, home-making, child-rearer and telling me that this is the right way for me to live my life and fulfill my role. Keep blaming me for infecting the thoughts of the men I encounter if I choose not to cover my shoulders, or wear shorts that don’t hit the knee.
Because I’m through letting this culture we are so caught up in affect the growth of my testimony, and my ability to feel the Spirit.
The important thing is, progress is being made. Even the General Relief Society President has acknowledged the fact that a woman should not be limited to the role of a stay-at-home housewife.
Small steps toward equality are being made. What more can I ask for?
Carry on, Mormon Feminists.
11 thoughts on “Amelioration”
I totally agree with you. I’m constantly frustrated with how the church talks about women and pigeonholes them into motherhood. The Proclamation is a good example of it, even though it’s twenty years old now. People still look to it as guidance for the behavior of women.
However, I don’t agree with you that people choose to feel offended. Offense is a visceral, emotional response. We can’t always choose how we feel about other people’s actions. We can choose how to act when it happens, but not our emotions behind them. Personally, I feel like people say people choose to be offended as a way to excuse and not take responsibility for their own hurtful behavior. And generally when they say that, I call them mean names until they get offended, then I tell them it’s their fault that they choose to get offended even though I was a jerk.
With all due respect, the purpose of this blog is for me to express my personal beliefs, feelings, and views on day-to-day issues that I encounter, not to seek advice from others. I welcome any and all discussion, especially discussion from opposing or conflicting views so long as they are presented in a respectful and open-minded manner. No one shares my perspective or knows exactly where I am coming from, which disqualifies anyone from telling me that my views or opinions are invalid. Yes, I may be young, but my opinions are shared by many people of similar age and circumstance. All I am doing is simply documenting my frustrations, impressions, and thoughts for others to read, and their response to it is entirely up to them. The point I am attempting to get across with this particular post is that I deserve to be given the same opportunity to pursue a career as my male peers, without being told that there is no better role for me to fulfill than that of motherhood, and that if I so desire, I am more than capable of achieving any goal within and outside of the home. I realize that for some, being a stay-at-home mom is the best option for them, and gives them a sense of fulfillment and happiness, but for me, I feel that I will feel most fulfilled by pursuing an empowering career beyond becoming a mother. That is all I am saying.
“Being 19 doesn’t invalidate her opinions, experiences, and views”
Nothing in my message delivers that notion. Get off it. Move to something productive.
The advice I did provide was personal to the author.
There was no condemnation in it.
I honor her opinions, experiences and views. However, there is no limit to learning except what we place on ourselves. So, in this fast paced world get busy. And I don’t mean blog more.
Nyla, Good for you in your doctoral program. More women than ever are doing it; they may be outnumbering men now. At 64 I am finished with the academics for my doctorate (Ed.D; Univ of Phoenix) and in the middle of my dissertation.
No. You should feel proud of your accomplishments, and your role in the lives of you children. I wasn’t able to build a strong relationship with my dad until he was the one who stayed at home for a year, and my mom went to work.
I am assuming that all of the comments in response to Robinobiship are coming from women. If so, we must evaluate the bias on both ends. Concerning the LDS treatment of women, this is admittedly one of the many reasons I left the LDS church, but that was limited to my experience. Many women have found happiness in the sphere of domesticity, and continue to do so. There is nothing wrong with one parent choosing to stay at home while the other works. The reason why women are encouraged to do this is, biologically and evolutionarily speaking, we are more dispositioned for a maternal role. Does that mean men are less capable? Not necessarily.
Women of today consider themselves to be very “forward-thinking” and capable of taking on roles in the workplace. I think such ideas are valid, but they are just as valid as a woman finding comfort in the home. One reason why I avoid labeling myself as a “feminist” is because feminists tend to demonize someone else as the “oppressor”, and themselves as the “oppressed”. Robinobiship, I commend you for being a stay-at-home father. It seems you are capable; just as capable as your wife in the workforce. To urge Maddisen, however, to put herself shoulder-to-should with men places her in a sphere that sees as unreasonable as the sphere of domesticity. Your advice comes from a place of respect, and that is to be recognized. Ideally, that is what Maddisen wants to do; however, one must be very careful in discounting another’s opinion with an opinion that is equally as demanding.
To the women who replied: I hope you are able to recognize your bias against Robinobishop. I commend you for defending Maddisen, but, unfortunately, your views come from one side of a fence, and not something of an objective nature.
The reality is that this culture Maddisen is talking about isn’t anchored in the 80’s, this is the way it is now. It may be true that the church does not as often say the words “women should not work outside the home” (although even Gordon B. Hinckley did that while prophet not so long ago) but the actual culture is that women should avoid working.
This exists in two forms, the first is in the actions of women in the church and the second is in the way women are taught. Women do work more often now than in the 80s. But I think this occurs in varying degrees depending on where you are in the world. The ward I grew up in in Kaysville, UT had (and still has) very few women pursuing careers and working because they wanted to. Hinckley counseled women should only work if they have to and that feels like how women there thought. I am currently working on a PhD in San Diego and I am not the only married woman in my ward doing so. Here I don’t feel as isolated as I would there. So I think Maddisen was right in saying things are baby steps happening. The bigger problem is that typically young women’s lessons are focused on staying home with children and relief society lessons are about motherhood. I’ve lived in two very liberal wards and even there we were and are rarely taught about empowerment based on anything but motherhood.
I think your words are well-intentioned but they come off quite condescending. Being 19 doesn’t invalidate her opinions, experiences, and views. I’m only 26, but passion and anger drove my ability to think outside the box and go to a college across the country and pursue a career. I never had women role models doing those things so it was up to me to figure it out on my own.
I’m glad to hear, Robino, that you and your wife have had a positive experience regarding this topic within the church. Unfortunately, not everyone has. You certainly can’t speak for the lived experiences of other people. There are actually many women of all ages who have these complaints. Women in their 30s, 40s, 50s… Are those women old enough to have a valid opinion? I’m not sure what you are hoping to accomplish by making condescending remarks about the author’s age- that doesn’t address the heart of any issues and it is a pretty weak argument.
While possibly well-meant, that was a truly condescending response. Are you suggesting that just because this author is young, unmarried, and not “working shoulder to shoulder with strong men” (whatever that means), she has no right to her opinions, no right to respond to her personal experiences in a way that would disagree with your views, and no ability to think with any complexity about her social situation? Instead of further silencing women’s ability to speak (especially, in this case, those who are younger than you), please consider the damage you may be inflicting by being yet another adult sending the message to young women that until they get married, have children, or “enter the workforce”, their views are immature, inconsequential, and irritating, and need to be degraded.
Swimming against the current, but to where, to what end?
I write the following respectfully.
As na emerging adult, why do you choose to be anchored in the 80’s when it comes to defining the culture of the Church? the church ain’t there any longer. You might want to anchor yourself in current LDS culture IF those are your values. It would be personally healthier. My wife has chosen to work out of the home all her life; it works for us; nobody has gotten in our way and converting to the church did not change that. After 43 years of marriage (half of it in the church), surviving occurred because the two of us have worked together at it in a committed relationship that has been very flexible, giving each other strength.
Instead of getting steamed by the words of others get yourself settled in your own views. At 19, trust me, you haven’t figured it out. There is one thing for sure, You will be figuring it out only in the context of your clique and that is pretty limiting if all of them avoid traditional committed (lifelong) intimacies. You’re at an age where you need heroes who can settle you down or you will find yourself burning all the time and at its end no legacy to anyone. Where you claim to be Mormon, somehow differentiate yourself with values that are LDS values. Otherwise don’t live in that contradiction….not healthy.
My advice given your inclinations, get yourself committed into a college life far away from your childhood friends, say a college across the country. choose an academically rigorous major that gets you energized but allow that choice to come after at least one year in college. Or go to a technical school that is not stereotypic of female employ, assert yourself shoulder to shoulder with strong men. Doing that will cause you to leave your present limited existence behind. Consider my words. They were carefully composed.
That is absolutely not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is that there is no blanket solution for a family structure. What I am saying is that I want the exact same opportunity as my future husband to choose a career path or to choose to be a stay-at-home mom and that my ambitions in the professional world are just as important as my husband’s. I’m not saying that being a stay-at-home parent is oppressive, rather, being told that my place is limited to inside the home because I am a woman is oppressive.
I am a stay at home dad; tell me, should I feel oppressed; should I feel distressed that I should be the one in the workforce right now instead of my wife?