Zelophehad’s Daughters

More Thoughts on Benevolent Sexism

Posted by Seraphine

Since first reading this post over at FMH (and the fracas that ensued in the comments) awhile ago, I’ve been thinking about the phenomenon of “benevolent sexism,” or more precisely the phenomenon of “benevolent sexism” within the church.

To summarize the previous conversation, Angry Mormon Liberal tried to link “violent misogyny” and “benevolent sexism,” essentially saying they were two sides of the same coin, or that benevolent sexism can help enable violent misogyny (before we continue, it was already agreed upon that saying/implying they were exactly “the same” was not the best wording). There were a couple of responses to post, aside from the complaints over wording that I found interesting.

1) Quite a few commenters disagreed with the connection Angry Mormon Liberal was trying to draw. The commenters made the point that although benevolent sexism exists in the church, most of the people who get labeled sexist are just trying to be nice, and they need to be given a break (i.e. not told that they’re enabling violent misogyny) because they’re good people and not trying to be sexist.

2) In a post over at BCC, HP/JDC argued that trying to link benevolent sexism and violent misogyny was “unhelpful”:

To use the terms of the FMH site, we all use some form of “benevolent sexism” or “benevolent racism” or something else in order to get through the decisions that confront us each day. To state that these forms of everyday discrimination are one end of a continuum with violence is to state a truism that is accurate but unhelpful.

To summarize, HP argues that judgment is necessary in our daily lives and that benevolent sexism is closer to the everyday judgments that we all have to make than it is to violent misogyny.

Now, before I continue I want to say I am very appreciative of the underlying concerns behind these statements (and the conclusion that HP eventually comes to): we need to try to be understanding of others and err on the side of Christlike behavior towards them by not judging them unfairly and recognizing that we all are imperfect. None of us, including myself, can say that we are perfect when it comes to treating others the way we should treat them, and I will confess that in my interactions around feminist issues I am sometimes more apt to start judging others that disagree with me than I should be.

That being said, I think that in the craziness of the comments over at FMH an important point was lost: there is sexism in the church, and although quite a lot of it is of the benevolent kind, even benevolent sexism can be a problem.

I think a comment by SilverRain on the original FMH post illustrates the point that many were trying to make on the thread.

In attempt to clarify what I think is being said, are you saying that benign sexism and violent misogyny are related because the benign sexism is essentially the petri dish for misogyny? In essence, if it were not for benign sexism, the violent misogynists would find no climate of acceptance, and would therefore exhibit their violent hatred much less spectacularly and often?

So it is not so much that benign sexism leads to violent misogyny, but that benign sexism is more socially acceptable, so it leads misogynists to an active expression of their feelings.

Although SilverRain was asking in order to clarify the positions of others on the thread, I thought it was a great restatement of what a number of us were trying to argue. Benevolent sexism, in and of itself, is not an earthshattering problem, and as HP/JDC argued, none of us are perfect.

However, benevolent sexism does not exist in isolation. It exists in a world where there is violent misogyny (and more moderate levels of sexism in between the poles of “benevolent sexism” and “violent misogyny”). So, to discuss a specific example (I’m drawing here on the Kathy Sierra story, which was one of the inspirations for AML’s post), when women are told that they are making “a big deal out of nothing” if they complain about violent misogyny or sexual harassment, the benevolent sexists who say this are enabling the harassers. And the extent to which the benevolent sexists (and others) believe that the women are actually making a deal out of nothing decreases the likelihood that the violent misogynists will suffer consequences for their actions.

So, now I have a few questions for y’all:

*To what extent should we be concerned with benevolent sexism? Or, to what extent is it a problem? Is it disingenuous to claim that it enables violent misogyny?

*When it comes to the church, is a certain amount of benevolent sexism unavoidable? Since we have a hierarchical, patriarchal structure that affirms traditional gender roles, is there inevitably going to be a certain amount of sexism that is inescapable? If so, should we just accept that?

*(To those who do not identify as feminists) How can those of us who are feminists (and believe that there is a problem with sexism in the church) best address the problem of benevolent sexism (without making people feel bad for trying to be nice)?

*(To those who do identify as feminists) What have been the best methods you’ve found for pointing out (and eliminating) benevolent sexism? What do you think we could do to further address this problem?

68 Responses to “More Thoughts on Benevolent Sexism”

  1. 1.

    “What have been the best methods you’ve found for pointing out (and eliminating) benevolent sexism?”

    I’ll address this question, because it’s the only easy one in your post. The best method is to rely on orthodox, authoritative sources. Mormons usually find those hard to argue with ;).

    So when I was in a discussion at HFPE with a woman who was going on about the need for women to be softer and more feminine, I countered with examples of scriptural women who weren’t and solid, boring doctrine about the need to stand up for our faith.

    When challenged re the status of the KJV as the One True Translation, I point out that the NIV and RSV have been quoted by members of the Q12 in general conference. (Not a feminist issue but you get the idea.)

    When a woman was being sheepish re her decision to work part-time as a young mother, I pointed her to Pres. Hinckley’s talk about the nurse as an example to young women.

  2. 2.

    I appreciate that my very poorly written screed has engendered some thoughts on your part.

    Let me put an attempt at looking at one of your questions

    Is a certain amount of benevolent sexism unavoidable?

    Yes and no. Yes, it will likely continue. No, it’s not something to accept.

    Let me give you an example. The YM and YW programs in my growing-up ward were funded very inequitably. The YW got 1/4 the money the YM got… my dad was the YM president and I snuck some peeks at the budget sheets. YM were invited up to talk about their camps, YW were not, YM had a minimum of 4 camps per year, YW had 1.

    What are the assumptions behind this? That YM are more important. That their entertainment is of more value than that of the YW… after all what else is the money used for. That YM have a place in the public eye. That their experiences have value for the whole ward, YW do not.

    Now… what assumptions are behind the bizzare behavior surrounding Kathy Sierra.

    That men’s opinions are more important. That men have a place in the public eye, women do not. That the ‘fun’ men have on the internet outweighs a womans.

    So… as to how to deal with this, I have no idea. I’m a crusty sod who has little trouble offending people. But, then again I’m a guy and, as much as I hate it, I have a undeniable advantage… I’m expected to be public in my feelings. It’s like being white, watching the Muslim couple ahead of you in the Immigration line get searched by the officers while you have never even been stopped.

    So, I’ll continue to fight… sometimes well, sometimes poorly. I just can’t stand seeing it just accepted. It’s like accepting women not having the vote in 1909… or slavery in 1850. I think we’ll look back in years future and shake our heads at what was just accepted as normal. It is a moral outrage to see inequality accepted… whether an unacceptable example such as how rape is investigated and prosecuted or a more ‘acceptable’ example such as glass ceilings in the office.

    D & C 121 expects nothing less.

  3. 3.

    “Enables” violent misogyny? Sure. Equates? No. But I could make a list of other things that probably enable violent misogyny as well. Violence and misogyny don’t exist in a vacuum, there are many things that can turn you into a misogynist and blaming it ‘completely’ on the benevolent sexists is disingenuous (IMO).

    Is a certain amount unavoidable? Of course. But it is at my work too. Does that make it okay? No, just not unique to the Mormon church. And no we shouldn’t just accept it, we should probably first look to fix it within ourselves, then move outwards, lovingly to loved ones. Then others.

    Methods? Having a handle of “Angry Mormon Liberal” and writing a post saying benevolent sexists = violent misogynists probably isn’t the first route I’d take if I were trying to actually reach anyone but the choir. Working with people and not against them usually works pretty well. Julie’s suggestion is fantastic.

  4. 4.

    Seraphine,

    Can you help me understand the definition of “sexism” you are working with in this discussion? It seems to me that these sexism discussions often get sticky because there are differing ideas of what that word means…

  5. 5.

    A lot of these very important questions are issues of social or psychological causation — a category of questions that can only be poorly addressed through dialogue and debate in the absence of substantial empirical evidence. I’d say that it seems subjectively probable to me that sexist beliefs of the so-called benevolent variety are in fact a direct cause of violent misogyny; it’s hard for me to imagine someone acting out a violent prejudice against women without first in fact holding prejudicial thoughts about women. But, my opinions about causation have pretty much the same weight as anyone else’s — none. There’s probably research that looks systematically at this, but I haven’t seen it to date.

    That said, I think that allegedly “benevolent” sexism can and should be regarded as an evil in its own right. Gender rules that lead to reduced opportunities for women inherently limit the human potential of half of the people in our community. When God-given talents are not developed because they are not “feminine,” when spiritual insights are disregarded because they come from someone of the “wrong” gender, or when leadership is squandered because the potential leader is a woman, that’s just a dead-weight loss, the sort of thing the parable of the talents warns against. So I don’t think we need a causal link to more egregious behaviors — plausible though such a link is — in order to see “benevolent” sexism as a moral evil in its own right.

  6. 6.

    *To what extent should we be concerned with benevolent sexism? Or, to what extent is it a problem?

    It’s a problem, and I don’t think it is inaccurate to believe that it can foster an environment that makes other, more objectionable forms of sexism possible.

    Is it disingenuous to claim that it enables violent misogyny?

    This is an interesting question. I’m going to take the easy way out and say that it depends on the person making the claim. It can be disingenuous, in the sense that it would be disingenuous to repeatedly claim that feminism enables misandry. A statement may be factually accurate, but it can still be used in low, dishonest ways.

    *When it comes to the church, is a certain amount of benevolent sexism unavoidable? Since we have a hierarchical, patriarchal structure that affirms traditional gender roles, is there inevitably going to be a certain amount of sexism that is inescapable?

    Yes, for now, but from my perspective, the situation is slowly improving.

    *(To those who do not identify as feminists) How can those of us who are feminists (and believe that there is a problem with sexism in the church) best address the problem of benevolent sexism (without making people feel bad for trying to be nice)?

    Since you asked, here are a few suggestions:

    1. Acknowledge and be grateful for efforts in the right direction, clumsy though they may be. When somebody takes half a baby step, they need to be encouraged, not dismissed or excoriated for failing to go all the way.
    2. Realize that you probably have more allies than you think. I was once in a ward where a woman was called to be RS president. She was wonderful in every way, and magnified her calling. Four months later, her husband was called to be EQP, so she was released. This most traditional of women (she would probably rather die than call herself a feminist) wondered aloud to me about the unfairness of the situation. Feminists need to find ways to befriend, rather than alienate, people like her.
    3. It is usually detrimental to allow ourselves to be thought of as single issue fanatics. There is at least one guy in every GD class who causes everybody else to groan every time he raises his hand. We know for certain that, no matter what the topic of the lesson, he is going to harp and pontificate on whatever his pet hobby is, so we all just hit the mute button. Even though there is often some underlying sexism in many issues, feminists would do well to engage those issues without reference to sexism.

    *(To those who do identify as feminists) What have been the best methods you’ve found for pointing out (and eliminating) benevolent sexism? What do you think we could do to further address this problem?

    1. I second Julie’s opinion about orthodox, authoritative sources. Elder Ballard is on record, in his book and in conference talks, saying that women’s perspectives are undervalued and underused. We ought to be able to make hay with that. People might argue with us, but they won’t argue with an apostle.
    2. Humility helps. Nobody likes being spoken down to, something feminists should understand very well.
    3. Humor helps too. It signals goodwill, and when we laugh together, we are all on the same side. Ironies abound, both in the church and among feminists, and those ironies are rich in potential belly laughs. When somebody with the word _angry_ in his nom de blog lectures us about the lessons of section 121, I almost split a gut.

  7. 7.

    Julie, that’s a great idea. I know that I’m so used to being in academic settings that I want to use formal argument or the like in church settings. I sometimes forget when I’m at church that using proof texts accepted in the church community is often the best route to go.

    Angry Mormon Liberal, I think that negotiating the subtle messages of some examples of benevolent sexism is a problem. I loved this post by Kristine at T&S about her son believing that men were more important in the church because he saw men in the majority of leadership roles. Even though we want to define the priesthood as service (i.e. most priesthood leaders would argue with Kristine’s son), I do think we have to try not to send the message that men are more important in this church.

  8. 8.

    I’m with Geoff J on this, it’s very hard to discuss when we don’t have any idea what you actually mean by “benevolent sexism.”

    As a young mother, I feel I benefitted from a lot of discriminatory practices. At BYU, there were times when I went to school part-time. That’s all I could handle with a little baby. (I admit, I was a dud un-strong woman during that season of my life, when my body failed me.)

    At the university where I currently work, they pride themselves on treating men and women equally, and so part-time enrollment is not allowed. New mothers are treated the same as new fathers.

    I could never have finished by degree with such non-sexist treatment, so I see the evil condescending BYU policy as actually beneficial for many women.

    Of course all women should not be FORCED to go part-time since some women need to.

    But because of those experiences, I am not sure what actually is considered “beneficial sexism” in this context.

  9. 9.

    Rusty and JNS, you are both right to point out that the problem of causation is complex. Maybe a better way of stating things is that violent misogyny and benevolent sexism are linked and don’t exist in isolation (Rusty, as I said in my post, I don’t think anyone, including Angry Mormon Liberal, is arguing that they are the same).

    Rusty, I like your idea about moving outward. It makes practical sense to focus on our own lives (and then the lives of our families, and then our ward communities, etc.), and it’s also how we’re encouraged to do things in the gospel. Especially since most of us are not in a position (I’m certainly not) to make changes from the top down.

    JNS, thanks for the reminder that benevolent sexism is a problem in its own right. Because I was trying to address a point that I thought got overlooked in AML’s original post–that various types of sexism exist on a continuum and we can’t look at them in isolation–I didn’t really address the set of problems associated with benevolent sexism that you so rightly outline. So, thanks for that!

  10. 10.

    Geoff J and Naismith, I think that JNS’s response gives some hints as to what “benevolent sexism” entails. My understanding of the term is that it’s a set of beliefs/actions that reinforce notions such as

    (1) women are weaker than men and need to be protected
    (2) women have “feminine” capabilities and men have “masculine” capabilities, and it’s harmful to women if they try to do “masculine” things, etc.

    Basically, “benevolent sexism” is a way to try and limit the choices of women and treat them unequally in problematic ways where the unequal treatment is cast in a positive light (“we just want what’s best for women”, etc.)

    Naismith, I would not call the practice of allowing new mothers (and new fathers) the option of going to school part-time “benevolent sexism.” And as I’ve stated before, most feminists I know do not equate “equality” with “sameness.”

    Geoff J, I hope this answers your question. Since we’re discussing “benevolent sexism” more specifically, I thought I’d define that. If you want a broader definition of “sexism,” let me know.

  11. 11.

    Mark IV, thanks for all the great, practical suggestions! And I loved how you answered both the identify-as-feminist and do-not-identify-as-feminist questions. :)

  12. 12.

    Seraphine, yup, I’m nothing if not confused!

  13. 13.

    most feminists I know do not equate “equality” with “sameness.”

    But is that representative of most feminists? I don’t know, but it’s certainly a problem that many of us have experienced.

    In my own life, the reason I stopped self-identifying as a feminist was that other people told me I could not be feminist if I was a mom at home, supporting my husband in his career. Other women would say, “Well, you must not be a feminist…” and I got tired of arguing about choices, etc.

  14. 14.

    Naismith, in my mind, what makes a feminist is not whether she is working at home or working in the marketplace. It has more to do with if she approaches her life with a feminist perspective, works for women’s issues, self-identifies as feminist, etc. I know a lot of women (espcially around the bloggernacle) who are stay-at-home mothers who I would definitely call feminists, and I know many women not staying at home who I would not classify as feminists.

    I think that generally women who have an incomplete understanding of feminism are going to make the stay-at-home vs. in-the-marketplace judgments, and that most feminists understand that the situation is a lot more complex that that.

    However, I do see see how it would be tiring to keep having to justify both your choices and feminism to others. I wrote a few posts on an old blog about women and choices awhile ago that I should drag out sometime.

  15. 15.

    Mark IV, even though I definitely identify as feminist, I am confused about many other things. :)

  16. 16.

    Seraphine: If you want a broader definition of “sexism,” let me know.

    Yes. Please.

    If there is a benevolent variety of sexism then how many other varieties are there? Malicious, harmless, pernicious, useful, etc… And presumably sexism is not something that only happens from men to women, but can happen women to men, men to men, women to women too right? I just want to pin down what people are even talking about here because otherwise everyone assumes their own definition based on their own experiences and not enough understanding of one another arises.

  17. 17.

    2. Realize that you probably have more allies than you think. I was once in a ward where a woman was called to be RS president. She was wonderful in every way, and magnified her calling. Four months later, her husband was called to be EQP, so she was released. This most traditional of women (she would probably rather die than call herself a feminist) wondered aloud to me about the unfairness of the situation. Feminists need to find ways to befriend, rather than alienate, people like her.

    Mark, this is my favorite of your suggestions (most of which I like quite a lot!). I think many, many women in the church are NAFBs (Not A Feminist, But…), which is to say that they believe in many of the same things I believe in and label “feminist,” but they don’t like some of the other things that they have seen labeled feminist in the past. I used to think that it was really important to correct someone who said “I’m not a feminist, but…” followed by some recognizably feminist principle. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to quit trying to get other women to own up to their feminist convictions and call them by name. It’s much easier, and more productive, to appreciate the common ground, and build on it, than to dicker endlessly over what color that common ground should be on some abstract map of feminist vs. non-feminist/traditionalist/conservative (???) territory.
    People who believe in a God who is “no respecter of persons” are very likely to be or to become progressive in their notions about what gender means in a gospel context. I find that it’s generally most helpful (for both me and people I’m trying to reach understanding with) for me to concentrate on being a good Christian and try to articulate the ways my feminism is grounded in Christianity.

  18. 18.

    Since you brought up my post, I would like to point out a place where my defintion of benevolent sexism and yours might differ.

    Your definitions:

    (1) women are weaker than men and need to be protected
    (2) women have “feminine” capabilities and men have “masculine” capabilities, and it’s harmful to women if they try to do “masculine” things, etc.

    My definitions:
    (1) Generally speaking, most women are weaker than most men in certain physical areas (although with the rise of obesity in the West, this might be changing).
    (2) Generally speaking, women have “feminine” capabilities and men have “masculine” capabilities.

    To me, my definitions explain what I was talking about regarding the basis by which we make everyday choices. I agree that your statements are virulent and ugly, but therefore they don’t represent benevolent sexism to me. At best, they represent “purtied-up” sexism (which is kind of a sexist thought, isnt’ it).

    Regarding the questions:

    *To what extent should we be concerned with benevolent sexism? Or, to what extent is it a problem? Is it disingenuous to claim that it enables violent misogyny?

    Now that I have a better understanding regarding your understanding of benevolent sexism, I agree that we should be very concerned with it. It is a problem in the same way that all generalities that focus on deficiencies are: they may be helpful in general, but they limit the generalizer and the generalizee far too much in the specifics. I don’t think it is necessarily disingenuous to claim that it enables violent misogyny, but you must realize that most of the benevolent misogynists want to see the violent misogynist destroyed just as much as you do. While the motivations may come from different axia, to some degree you are fellow travelers on that subject.

    The exception to that would be the “she got what was coming to her” rule, but that never applies to people we care about, does it?

    *When it comes to the church, is a certain amount of benevolent sexism unavoidable? Since we have a hierarchical, patriarchal structure that affirms traditional gender roles, is there inevitably going to be a certain amount of sexism that is inescapable? If so, should we just accept that?

    Probably, but we should fight it. There is no compelling reason for your idea of benevolent sexism in the church and there are many reasons to toss it. Certainly there are many ideas in the church that could lead us to this conclusion, but none of them are necessary (so far as I can tell). We should recognize virulent ideas in the church (and out of it) and strive to bring ourselves closer to God.

    *(To those who do not identify as feminists) How can those of us who are feminists (and believe that there is a problem with sexism in the church) best address the problem of benevolent sexism (without making people feel bad for trying to be nice)?

    I think that Julie’s advice and Mark’s are good. Be nicely assertive (which is probably oxymoronic, natch). Be willing to stand up for oneself, while always being willing to stand as a witness for Christ covers a host of hurt feelings.

    *(To those who do identify as feminists) What have been the best methods you’ve found for pointing out (and eliminating) benevolent sexism? What do you think we could do to further address this problem?

    In Mark’s footsteps, I wanna answer both (because I think of myself as a feminist, while I recognize that I am in many ways a sexist). I think that pointing out the lack of necessity for sexist beliefs (relying on scripture and such) would be helpful. But further simply sincerely explain yourself. If you are hurt, explain to the offending party why. If you see something as sexist, explain how it makes you feel. And allow the other party to explain themselves.

    I recently listened to a piece on NPR wherein Pro-Life and Pro-Choice advocates had managed to overcome their differences while still being at philosophical/political odds. They talked to each other, explaining themselves without any expectation of converting the other party. Simply being honest about what they felt and why they felt that way helped them to see one another as human instead of as caricatures. It didn’t resolve their differences, but it did make them kinder and more respectful of one another, which is probably all that we can realistically ask. (I don’t mean to come off as lecturing; I am telling this to myself as I write :) )

  19. 19.

    I think the term “benevolent sexism” was coined by Peter Glick and Susan T. Fiske in a 1996 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Geoff, in response to your question, they distinguished it from one other type of sexism, which they called “hostile sexism.”

    They defined hostile sexism as “those aspects of sexism that fit Allport’s (1954) classic definition of prejudice.” Allport’s definition of prejudice is this: “Ethnic prejudice is an antipathy based upon a faulty and inflexible generalization. It may be felt or expressed. It may be directed toward a group as a whole, or toward an individual because he is a member of that group.”

    They defined benevolent sexism as “a set of interrelated attitudes toward women that are sexist in terms of viewing women stereotypically and in restricted roles but that are subjectively positive in feeling tone (for the perceiver) and also tend to elicit behaviors typically categorized as prosocial (e.g., helping) or intimacy seeking (e.g., self-disclosure).”

    I think this is pretty much what you were saying, Seraphine. Or, as you put it, John C., it’s “purtied-up” sexism. I don’t think that’s a bad way of thinking about it. It’s still sexism, but made more subtle and “nicer” to survive in a world that is less tolerant of unvarnished sexism.

    Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The ambivalent sexism inventory: Differentiating between hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491-512.

  20. 20.

    To what extent should we be concerned with benevolent sexism? Or, to what extent is it a problem? Is it disingenuous to claim that it enables violent misogyny?

    Although most of us here seem to agree that benevolent sexism is a problem, enough to try different tactics to eradicate it, I’m not sure that is the general feeling of church members, especially when defined by Ziff in #19. I think there are a number of scriptures and general authority quotes that support the idea of

    viewing women stereotypically and in restricted roles but that are subjectively positive in feeling tone

    I guess that’s where this is troubling for me. I’m not even sure our core doctrine really repudiates the restricted roles of women in the church or other manifestations of benevolent sexism.

    When it comes to the church, is a certain amount of benevolent sexism unavoidable? Since we have a hierarchical, patriarchal structure that affirms traditional gender roles, is there inevitably going to be a certain amount of sexism that is inescapable? If so, should we just accept that?

    Perhaps I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t think the attitudes that create benevolent sexism will go away until the doctrines behind it go away.
    Until then, perhaps it does contribute to violent misogyny, but I think other Christian teachings of the church can counteract these to some extent.

  21. 21.

    A point I was trying to make is that, from the perspective of the general benevolent sexist (I would assume), violent misogyny is just as bad (or worse). It may cause the benevolent sexist to think it somehow reflects on him and therefore it must be absolutely punished. He would fight strongly against violent misogyny, not because it is what is best for women, but because if he didn’t, he would be a violent misogynist. He cannot view himself as a violent misogynist, because he is the great protector of women. Does that make sense?

  22. 22.

    Geoff J, I think the definition at Wikipedia is a good, basic definition of sexism:

    Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred against people based on their sex rather than their individual merits, but can also refer to any and all systemic differentiations based on the sex of the individuals.

    Sexism can refer to subtly different beliefs or attitudes:

    *The belief that one gender or sex is superior to or more valuable than the other;
    *Female or male chauvinism
    *The attitude of misogyny (hatred of females) or misandry (hatred of males); as well as
    *The attitude of imposing a limited and/or false notion of masculinity on males and a limited and/or false notion of femininity on females, or vice versa.
    *A feeling of distrust towards the opposite sex, most frequently operating at unconscious level.

  23. 23.

    Kristine, as much as I get frustrated by the “not a feminist but…” phenomenon (though, I tend to get more frustrated with my students than with people at church), your approach appeals to the pragmatist in me!

  24. 24.

    Margaret Toscano’s most recent Sunstone article has some interesting approaches to some of these questions. It’s available at sunstoneonline.com. She looks specifically at President Hinckley’s 2004 conference talk on women, and, while she doesn’t use the term, I think she would probably agree that it could be called benevolently sexist. (So, if you’re going to get bent out of shape by someone respectfully criticizing a church president’s talk, then, by all means, do not read her paper.)

    One of the most interesting things she addresses is the question of what to do about the fact that lots of women like the way we talk about women in the church, don’t feel bad about patriarchal structure, etc. Her treatment of the question is ultimately inadequate (mostly, I suspect, because of the length of the paper and the breadth of issues she tries to tackle in it), but I think it’s an important question if we’re going to talk about benevolent sexism–if women get the benevolence, and don’t feel the sexism, does it matter that it’s sexist by some relatively objective definition?

  25. 25.

    I guess I’m a sexist then, since I do think that women are naturally more Christlike. I think Eve got the big picture before Adam did, and had the courage to take action to get them going where they needed to be.

    I think that the reason men have the assignment to do the bulk of the ministry work is that they need the opportunity to aquire the caring and compassion that comes with that kind of work. At least my husband needed to do it.

    That’s why I have been so supportive of my husband in his various callings, some of which have taken him away from home for many hours per week (bishop, high councilor, etc.).

    It’s not that I am some stand-by-your man dependent woman. It’s that I want him to learn those things, and he is a better person for it, and my support is essential to his service.

    In short, I am not so sure that the rules of the world apply in a church setting.

    I have never thought that women did not preside in meetings because we were less, but rather because the men needed those opportunities for growth.

  26. 26.

    John C., that’s an interesting point that many benevolent sexists would put themselves in direct opposition to violent misogynists. I guess my question is: how do we help benevolent sexists to see that in this kind of model the women have limited agency and power (they are either subject to the violence of the violent misogynists or protected by the benevolent sexists)?

    As for your final thought, I fully support trying to see people as humans rather than as charicatures, labels, etc. Sometimes I do better at this than at other times.

  27. 27.

    Ziff, thanks for the background on the term.

    Jessawhy, I’ve think you’ve hit on a tricky issue, which I was trying to get at with my second question. To a certain extent, I see a certain amount of benevolent sexism built into the structure/doctrine/discourse of the church, and so I’m not sure to what extent we can completely eliminate it.

    And as Kristine points out, what do we do when most church members (including ones like Naismith, who are in many ways sympathetic to feminist concerns), aren’t bothered by things that some might label as “benevolent sexism”? I like the suggestions offered by Mark IV and Julie, but I always seem to find myself in situations where I’m bothered by things that don’t bother the people around me and am unsure what to do about it.

  28. 28.

    And Kristine, thanks for the reference to the Toscano article. I glanced through portions of it, and I felt like I was reading a summary of many of the blog conversations I’ve participated in the past year and a half. :)

  29. 29.

    how do we help benevolent sexists to see that in this kind of model the women have limited agency and power (they are either subject to the violence of the violent misogynists or protected by the benevolent sexists)?

    The only answer I can come up with is to note that most people believe that their personal beliefs are the self-evident realities of the universe. If we kindly note that we don’t share those beliefs and still remain rational, caring, intelligent human beings, then the open minded might be more open to our own beliefs. The close minded didn’t care to begin with. This doesn’t necessarily mean that our beliefs are correct; instead it is only a means for pointing out that their beliefs might be wrong. But it seems to me like it is the place to start.

  30. 30.

    Dear all,

    Thank you for your opinions and please welcome me to the conversation. Here follows my pained thoughts. No offense meant to anybody, just need a forum to talk and have my feelings acknowledged.

    Naismith stated: “I have never thought that women did not preside in meetings because we were less, but rather because the men needed those opportunities for growth.”

    I have always thought that men had the priesthood because they were better and more worthy than women. That women are somehow less in the eternities and it is proved by having men “rule over” us (Genesis 3:16). I cannot reconcile my faith in God and love of the Gospel with the place of women in the world and the church. I struggle and want help in doing so. I acknowledge that not everybody feels the way I do. But I cannot bring myself to feel the way they do. I have in the last 3 years begun to come back to church after many years of inactivity brought on by this and related issues/events and am still searching for peace.

    After all, after I was raped at age 15 (and previously at age 4) and the bishop asked me what clothes I was wearing to provoke him to attack me, told me that I was a sinner and needed to repent. I had expected he would believe me and call my parents and call the police. I had expected he would tell me God loved me. Instead he said God was angry with me and I was being punished for my sins and I must have done something wrong for this to come about. In other words he, the voice of God, the man with infallible Priesthood authority, the man, who in my eyes, was on the right hand of Jesus, told me that a) I was bad, which is what the men who had raped me told me) and that b) all women, by extension were bad and when raped or dominated were being punished for their sins and ultimately for their sin of being born a woman.

    I am starting to forgive the men who raped me, but that bishop and the Priesthood authority of the church who supported him and not me, I have not yet forgiven (even while I love the Prophet and love other men- ie my dad who hold the Priesthood).

    Men may need those opportunities for growth (and certainly this particular bishop did- how many suicide attempts could he have prevented by being kinder to me and actually calling my parents and the police? and how much agony could he have prevented?) but the church I think doesn’t improve the opportunities for growth for women by saying that their only worth in life is to a) get married, b) do what he says (i.e.) support him, c) have children (in pain) and raise them (in worry), and that a woman who does not is somehow of less importance than a woman who does, and ultimately cannot have salvation. (and if they get raped or abused it is their fault.)

    I know that recently the church has become better about dealing with abuse issues (even a couple of Ensign articles on it)- I think no one knew how to handle it when I was a child- which wasn’t that long ago. Still it is hard for me to think that I who try to be good, am of less worth than the priesthood holders who hurt me and tease me (ie the deacons who teased and beat me up).

    I am very happy that others in this blog have less problems and seem more at peace- I doubt I ever will be and it hurts because I still love the gospel. Even now, women look askance at me in relief society- and because I am not married and have no children and few bother to think what is really going on in me. And talk of celestial marriage is incomprehensible to me, because I can only think of the ones who hurt me. The bishop was a decent, man, so all thought in that ward, and so all the young men too, yet they treated me so horribly and doubled the pain the rapists gave to me, that if men like that are my only choice, then I suppose I shan’t marry.

    This is what I learned as a youth and I have trouble finding any peace even in statements from the Prophet and other Apostles that say “men should not abuse their wives and children” and “women’s opinions are undervalued” because I still see that men who have the authority of God, are the voice of God (like my bishop when I was a teenager), run around happy and acknowledged, with their wives supporting them, while I am lost, and can never be forgiven, can never be loved, can never be worthy, because I am a woman, and I allowed/provoked men to rape me at age 4 and at age 15 (etc etc).

    Forgive me for being so detailed, I just found your blogs and found them quite enlightening and feel like no one else is listening. Please listen. Thank you.

  31. 31.

    Naismith, while I appreciate the Mormon understanding of Eve and agree that Priesthood service can teach valuable lessons, I don’t like the overall narrative of women being more Christlike than men any more than I like the overall narrative of men being more important than women.

    While I understand the reasons people like the “women are more Christlike” narrative, I think it can be abused by women and used as a justification for women’s powerlessness in certain decision-making situations (we need to protect the women since they are so pure and righteous). And then we’re right back to benevolent sexism. :)

  32. 32.

    I too don’t understand the narrative of women being more righteous than men, as that’s certainly not the case in my family of origin or my current marriage.

    And the issue of Eve’s higher degree of righteousness is problematic, even with current revelation. If what she did was so insightful and wonderful in helping Adam, why covenant her to subordination and demonstrate her silence through the rest of the narrative specifially on the bounds that she was the first to “see the light,” so to speak?

  33. 33.

    John C., yes, that is a good place to start.

    smcgraw, I am sorry that you are dealing with these very painful issues. In the past I think our beliefs about gender and hierarchical structure in the church have contributed to this kind of abuse, though, like you, I think the church is getting much better. Still, that doesn’t help you as you try to sort through these painful issues–best of luck to you as you return to church activity.

  34. 34.

    Unless we’re talking about physical violence, I don’t see an appreciable difference between the two world views.

    For example, someone may deny women the right to vote because he (or she) hates women, or because he (or she) thinks women are incompetent/too good to dirty their hands with politics. The effect is the same regardless of the underlying belief or motivation.

    The label “violent” is a distraction from the real issue. All sexists – benevolent or otherwise – are misogynists/misandrists. (or, a less hostile characteriztion: all sexists are bigots)

  35. 35.

    Alisa, this is tangential, but I think the Eve narrative is complex. I like our Mormon conception of Eve because she becomes *more* than just the disobedient female who needs to be punished. She’s still disobedient, but she’s also the one who has the understanding to move the plan of salvation forward. As a result, we get a complex, flawed human being that undermines the “woman as evil seductress” or “woman as pure and angelic” archetypes that we’ve gotten so often throughout history (and still get variations on today).

  36. 36.

    To follow up with Kristine’s #24, here’s an interesting quote from wikipedia about the paradox of misogyny/misandry:

    Christina Hoff Sommers notes what she considers a ‘corrosive paradox’ of feminism: “that no group of women can wage war on men without at the same time denigrating the women who respect those men”. She says “it is just not possible to incriminate men without implying that large numbers of women are fools or worse”. To Hoff Sommers, women who respect men are seen (by what she has coined “gender feminists”) as being in the camp of the enemy. Therefore, misandry becomes misogyny, perpetrated by feminists whom Hoff Sommers sees as a radical and unrepresentative minority of both feminists and women.

  37. 37.

    smcgraw, I’m really sorry to hear about your bad experiences with your bishop. I can’t imagine how painful that must have been, and continues to be.

    I think you also make some excellent points about the inevitable conclusions we’re forced to draw from men’s greater power and authority in the church (and from statements like the FamProc, which claim that gender is eternal, giving us little hope that we might escape our subordination at some future point): that men are more qualified to lead, more capable, and more important to God. We tend to do a great deal of tap-dancing around these fairly obvious conclusions, which often only children or the culturally uninitiated will dare to point out.

  38. 38.

    ECS, thanks for the additional thoughts–judging by end result is a very good way to do things, and I would consider denying women the vote a reprehensible (violent?) act, even if it was dressed up in pretty language.

    It seems to me that people have been making a distinction between the two because the end results of benevolent sexism are often different than the end results of violent misogyny (or, whether or not something is labeled “violent misogyny” or “benevolent sexism” often depends on its end result). Which is more an issue of shifting definitions. But you’re right to point out that in the many instances where that is not the case (and the end results are the same), there is no appreciable difference between the two aside from motive.

  39. 39.

    Seraphine – what are the different end results of violent misogyny vs. benevolent sexism? If “violent” misogyny means physical violence – rape and abuse – then violent misogynists would be akin to the violent homophobists who physically attack gays and lesbians because of their sexual orientation. And then of course violent misogynists who rape and murder wouldn’t be “benevolent”. (i.e,. the physical “violence” defines the level of misogyny/sexism)

    If we leave “violent” out of the definition, however, then there’s a very fine line (if one at all) between misogyny and sexism (benevolent or otherwise). I guess I’m not understanding the difference between violent misogyny and benevolent sexism apart from the element of physical violence. Maybe I should read the article Ziff referenced…

  40. 40.

    By the way – here’s a fun little quiz entitled “Ambivalent Sexism Inventory“. It’s supposed to determine whether you’re a benevolent or a hostile sexist.

    My score (on a scale of 1 to 5):

    Hostile Sexism Score: 2.18
    Benevolent Sexism Score: 0.45

  41. 41.

    ECS, I was pointing to the fact that our definition of “benevolent sexism” has been sliding around a lot in the discussion. Even though Ziff referenced a specific origin in the comments, in both my post and in AML’s original post, we referenced sexist behaviors that don’t fit the more precise definition that was provided in the comments on this thread.

    As a result, I think that originally (espcially in the FMH thread) “benevolent sexism” was used to describe sexism that didn’t have the extreme results that violent misogyny (i.e. rape, physical abuse, etc.) might have. Which means that you’re right: there isn’t much of a difference between misogyny and sexism (and one can question the necessity of including the word “benevolent” unless the issue of internal motivation is important).

    Is that any clearer?

  42. 42.

    Thanks for linking to that, ECS. I just glanced at the items briefly, but I think that’s the same scale that Glick and Fiske introduced in their paper.

  43. 43.

    Thanks, Seraphine. That makes more sense.

    Ziff – I found the quiz after searching under the name of the Glick and Fiske article, so I think it’s the same one. Also, I should point out the scale is from 0 to 5, not 1 to 5. I’m not an off the charts anti-benevolent sexist. :)

  44. 44.

    smcgraw,

    I’m glad that you stumbled onto this delightful little corner of blogland. You certainly don’t need to apologize for recounting some of the details of your situation. I wish I could say or do something that would be helpful. Although you may not agree, my impression is that you are dealing with your situation in a productive way, and I hope you can continue.

  45. 45.

    smcgraw,
    There is nothing that I could say that would mitigate the pain you have experienced. Nonetheless, I am sorry. As far as I can ascertain from your story, I consider your teenage bishop a jerk. Do with that what you will. Please feel free to hang out here. We ain’t perfect, but we try on alternating Thursdays.

    ECS,
    I thought that physical violence was implicit in the violent misogyny definition, whereas benevolent sexism would, as a rule, be opposed to physical violence (the protector of the women idea). So, I am not understanding where your confusion lies.

  46. 46.

    FWIW, I am
    Hostile Sexism Score: 1.00
    Benevolent Sexism Score: 3.27
    Which appears to mean I have much less Hostile Sexism than men and women surveyed and slightly more Benevolent Sexism than men and women surveyed. I think it was my strong responses regarding my belief that men and women are incomplete without each other that done it.

  47. 47.

    Naismith,

    Your view that women are more Christ-like is shared by many others, including some general authorities. I admit it also has some appeal to me, because then it would be easier to rationalize the sorry state of my eternal soul. But that is exactly where we run into difficulty. If men have limited spiritual capacity, shouldn’t we go a little easier on them? We recognize that people who are mentally retarded are not fully responsible for their actions. You are saying, I think, that men are spiritually retarded. If that were really the case, it would indeed explain a lot. But then we men should not be held to account for many of the rotten things we do.

    ECS,

    I guess I’m not understanding the difference between violent misogyny and benevolent sexism apart from the element of physical violence.

    That is a very big difference, don’t you think? We need to be clear that while an atmosphere of benevolent or benign sexism can allow violent sexism to take root, they are not comparable. Wolf whistles are objectionable, but when we compare them with rape, we are only trivializing rape and discounting the victims of rape.

  48. 48.

    Mark and John – well, that’s why we need to define the word “violent”. If “violent” means physical violence, then I don’t find the term “violent” misogynist useful at all. Rapists then are misogynists merely by definition.

    A person may be a misogynist without being physically violent, however. What does “violent” mean in a non-physical context, then?

  49. 49.

    ECS:

    I’m not an off the charts anti-benevolent sexist. :)

    Oh yes you are. I know the truth. In fact, I have intuited that your actual score on benevolent sexism is -2.55. ;)

  50. 50.

    LOL! Was the dead giveaway my answer to this question?

    In a disaster, women ought not necessarily to be rescued before men.

  51. 51.

    eep–should I be alarmed that my hostile sexism score was higher than my benevolent sexism score?

  52. 52.

    smcgraw-I am so sorry about your experience. I think John C was right that the bishop you had at the time was a jerk. I am so angry for your experience and that treatment you received when you needed help. I am always more than happy to listen if you need to talk. You can contact me at tanyasue at socal dot rr dot com.

    While not nearly as bad as yours, I have had some situations with leaders that have left me sick to my stomach. It is so difficult to keep faith of any kinds when you have had been betrayed by someone who is supposed to represent God-especially when it the type of harm you received.

  53. 53.

    Serpahine-I appreciate your comment that you are bothered by things that others aren’t. I thought I was alone in that feeling.

    I am not sure what the answers are to any of the questions posed (I am still working on going to church without feeling hurt by it all when I walk in the door), but I appreciate the comments and thoughts everyone has shared. It has been/is great food for thought.

  54. 54.

    Tanya Sue, you’ll find that quite a few of us around here are bothered by things that others don’t seem to be. So feel free to hang around for awhile. :)

  55. 55.

    Seraphine-I am lurker who has been around quite sometime but don’t comment often. I think this is the first time I have ever read it said quite like that. Maybe because I have been told that if I wasn’t so sensitive these things wouldn’t bother me”.

  56. 56.

    smcgraw,
    Like others here, I am sorry for your pain and the trauma you have received at the hands of men. Although I haven’t had experiences like yours, I have come to some of the same conclusions you have about the relationship between men and women in the church and the world.
    You said,

    I cannot reconcile my faith in God and love of the Gospel with the place of women in the world and the church.

    That is exactly where I am right now. There seem to be ways of reconciling these issues, but none of them seem very good. If God set up the church and world (and our spiritual and physical bodies) in a way that women are obviously vulnerable to men, then why does it cause women so much pain, physically, emotionally, and spiritually? If God doesn’t want it this way, if men created these problems for women, then is this church (or any other) really God’s church on Earth? Does God really care, or is He mostly hands off, watching from a distance? These are very difficult matters to deal with, and I know you and I are not alone in grappling with these questions.
    I wish you well on your journey, and hope that you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your search for answers.

  57. 57.

    Naismith, while I appreciate the Mormon understanding of Eve and agree that Priesthood service can teach valuable lessons, I don’t like the overall narrative of women being more Christlike than men any more than I like the overall narrative of men being more important than women.

    Then come up with your own narrative.

    But I would encourage you to come up with a paradigm based on the reality of church doctrine, rather than accepting feminism as sacred and trying to cram the church into the framework of feminism.

    That exercise is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and of course it isn’t going to quite fit, and sadly some bits of it are going to be chipped off and left on the ground in the process, and then people aren’t going to quite understand the shaved-off version that does fit, because it is missing vital things.

    I shared my own opinion on this not to convert others to my particular view, but to suggest that LDS women are so different from feminism that we should be looking for something else entirely to explain what we do and why we make our choices.

    I resent being held up to the mirror of feminism to determine whether my choices are valid. Why would I care about the philosophies of wo(men) when I could be focussed on the gospel of Jesus Christ?

  58. 58.

    You are saying, I think, that men are spiritually retarded.

    I don’t think so. “Retarded” implies that they can never learn. I think men CAN be just as spiritual as women, but in general it is not as effortless or natural to them so the training they receive helps a lot.

    A few years ago, I was going through a challenging time, trying to pack up to move to another country as a single mother of four, the youngest being 2. Because of where we live, most of my friends are not members. My non-member female friends were there for me just as much as the LDS ones, bringing in dinner, etc. My male non-member friends kinda waved and said have a nice vogage (it just never occured to them to help). My male LDS friends came over to pack and one of them cleaned my refrigerator:)

    That’s the difference I see. And in the case of my own husband, I have observed the huge growth in his compassion and understanding of life’s vicissitudes that has come from serving in the church.

  59. 59.

    Naismith:

    I would encourage you to come up with a paradigm based on the reality of church doctrine, rather than accepting feminism as sacred and trying to cram the church into the framework of feminism.

    That exercise is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and of course it isn’t going to quite fit, and sadly some bits of it are going to be chipped off and left on the ground in the process, and then people aren’t going to quite understand the shaved-off version that does fit, because it is missing vital things.

    Interestingly, it sounds to me that this is exactly what you are doing, Naismith. You claim that men have to run the Church in order to make them better people, while women are already better people by default. This is a common rationalization for denying women the priesthood or any real power in the Church hierarchy, but it is not doctrinal. You appear to be holding your apologist stance for a male-only priesthood as sacred and trying to cram the church into that framework.

    I think the gospel is clearly more compatible with feminism, which is concerned with allowing women more opportunities, than it is with sexist apologetics, which is concerned with explaining why women don’t actually need those opportunities.

  60. 60.

    That was a really interesting article, and points out a phenomenon I hadn’t considered before. That women on the web are the target of more vicious and more threatening attacks than men ever are. And I realize that it’s true. I know of 4 or 5 cases in which women’s lives have been threatened on the web and none of men.

    I want to talk and to think more about the benevolent variety of sexism, and to read the rest of the comments on this thread, but first I want to pass along something I’ve discovered that might be helpful to someone who is ever threatened as was discussed in that article. Such threats are sadly more common than we like to suppose.

    I’ve found when dealing with vicious, low, violent, sexism of a sort that seems to have most, but by no means exclusive, currency among the ignorant and coarse, I’ve found that exhibiting a healthy self-preservation instinct, and no undue delicacy about the vigor with which one might exercise it, has much efficacy. I went to a violent inner-city school, and some time in my second or third year of being beat up, harassed, shoved, shaken down, etc. I hit upon the way to make it stop instantly. Since then, this method has served me well whenever I’ve encountered such threats, whether over the web or in person.

    Though in the backwoods, the wilds of rural or urban culture, among the lazy, violent, and contemptuous, a righteously indignant girl doesn’t get a whole lot of respect, I have found by experience, that a righteously indignant girl with a shotgun very much does.

    Being ready and willing to violently defend oneself against violent threats is quite effective in quelling them. On the web, asking for someone’s real name and address, so that one can continue addressing character defamation issues through legal channels is quite effective in silencing vicious and libelous attacks. When you up the ante, in a decisive and resolute way, violent bullies almost always back down. They aren’t, after all, in the business of risking a hair on their own precious heads, no, Precious, not at all. :)

  61. 61.

    I hated having to become that way, by the way, and I would very much have preferred for men to defend me, but those who should have didn’t, and our society hasn’t and won’t, so I started defending myself. We need to quit thinking of that as unfeminine, and quit discouraging girls from doing it.

  62. 62.

    Tanya Sue, well feel free to comment more. And I’m glad my comment resonated with you. I think I’m probably not the only one who has heard comments along the lines of “you’re just being too sensitive.”

  63. 63.

    Naismith, I don’t like coming up with all-encompassing narratives because I don’t think that my mortal understanding can fully understand what things will be like in the eternities (and so trying to come up with some kind of justification for the status-quo doesn’t really seem to be the best use of my time).

    I think there are a lot of things about feminism that are not ultimately going to be compatible with the gospel, and these things will be left by the wayside. But I also don’t think that the the way the church functions now will be the way the gospel functions in the eternities. All I know is that I have a strong conviction of women’s equality, it doesn’t seem to be compatible with what I see on the earth nowadays, but that it is important to God’s eternal plan. And I hope someday things will come together and make sense for me. But I think coming up with a specific narrative about how that will happen (especially one that justifies current inqualities and sexism) is premature.

  64. 64.

    Naismith, I don’t like coming up with all-encompassing narratives because I don’t think that my mortal understanding can fully understand what things will be like in the eternities (and so trying to come up with some kind of justification for the status-quo doesn’t really seem to be the best use of my time).

    I was not attempting to offer an “all-encompassing narrative.” I was simply sharing how I see it, and how that view has allowed me to be happy with the status quo. I didn’t “come up with it,” BTW, it was given to me. To me, not for anyone else.

    My point is that there are lots of way to look at the situation, beyond the feminist views that you have eloquently espoused or the narrow view of women’s role that is often expressed (overemphasis on marriage, women only having worth as mothers, etc.), which I think is mostly horribilizing as I haven’t come across that much. My girls never did a makeup night for YW; they have learned fencing and shooting alongside the young men, and most of the young women in my ward (including my daughter) serve missions.

    All I know is that I have a strong conviction of women’s equality, it doesn’t seem to be compatible with what I see on the earth nowadays,

    And I think men and women are equal, but different. I don’t feel powerless in the church. That’s where we disagree.

  65. 65.

    Thanks Seraphine! It’s funny I am “too senstive” in situations like this. However the people who tell me I am too sensative are always the ones who come crying to me at some point or another because I am sensative and they know I will understand and not judge them or will offer a perspective they haven’t thought of.

  66. 66.

    Naismith, I’m not always okay with the status quo, so I guess you’re right to say that’s where we differ. Despite our differences of opinion, however, I do appreciate your passion for women’s issues and lives and your support for women and young women having a wide range of opportunities.

    Tanya Sue, I’m glad that the people who are giving you a hard time for your sensitivity are also appreciative of it at times. :)

  67. 67.

    A few random thoughts from someone who is probably a benevolent sexist:

    1) Julie’s initial post is great. That principle can be applied not just in addressing women who argue that women should be “softer and more feminine,” but also can be applied to men who are misogynists or even just benevolent sexists. Isn’t the appropriate point when someone is assuming an authoritarian role over another to point out that Jesus taught us all that we should be more like Him — and that He was the servant of all. Cite the example of His sacrifice for each and every other person. Or washing the feet of the apostles. So when someone isn’t quite living up to that standard (and is being annoyingly sexist about it), isn’t it OK to subtly point out that maybe they haven’t met that standard yet?

    2) When I was called into the Bishopric in the late 1980s and was given responsibility over the youth programs in the ward, the out-going YW President (my wife) cornered me about the inequity in the YM and YW budgets, and argued that it was UNFAIR! (Note: maybe the influence of their mother is why 2 of my daughters are on this blog) Upon investigation, we found that there were differences (which we corrected), but that the biggest difference is in camp costs. Scout camps cost a LOT of money because they use Scout land, offer extensive camp facilities, and paid Scout professionals. YW Camp is typically at a public camp with low fees, few facilities, and no professional staff. Unfortunately, we found no camps for YW with facilities and staff anything like the Scouts. And the YW and their leaders (for the most part) are OK with that discrepancy. While I can’t speak for all wards, I can speak for that ward, and the 2 wards since then where I have served as YM President and/or Bishop, and I can say that other than Camp costs, the funding has been equal.

    3) You might enjoy this story. At the time of Elder Ballard’s famous “Strength in Counsel” talk in the Oct. 1993 conference, I was serving as Stake YM President. We went to Stake Council Meeting a few weeks later, and our Stake President quoted from Elder Ballard’s talk, and then said we need to do more of that as a Stake Council. He then proceeded to ask each of the sisters at the Stake Council Meeting (Stake RS Presidency, Stake YW Presidency, and Stake Primary Presidency) to “counsel the Stake Council by giving a report on what they are doing to achieve the goals assigned to them by the Stake Presidency.” I was absolutely dumbfounded.

  68. 68.

    The only way a man can be a gentleman is if a woman appears mysterious, quiet, less assertive, modest, uninterested in him, and meek. If a woman is outgoing, loud, assertive, interested in him, and vocal, a man will be hostile.

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