Zelophehad’s Daughters

Is There Value in Addressing Women and Men Separately?

Posted by Kiskilili

In the thread to a fabulous recent post on FMH by Starfoxy regarding whether reciprocity can be assumed when unstated, Starfoxy asks the following question:

“To what extent should the ‘love & respect your spouse’ talks be given to mixed audiences so that neither group feels they have a disproportionate duty to defer to the other?”

Further along these lines, to what extent is it useful, even when discussing marriage in a mixed group, to address husbands and wives separately, as Elder Holland chooses to in his most recent General Conference address:

“Husbands, you have been entrusted with the most sacred gift God can give you, a wife, a daughter of God, the mother of your children who has voluntarily given herself to you for love and joyful companionship. . . . A husband who would never dream of striking his wife physically can break, if not her bones, then certainly her heart by the brutality of thoughtless or unkind speech. . . . Today, I speak against verbal and emotional abuse of anyone against anyone, but especially of husbands against wives.”

“In that same spirit we speak to the sisters as well, for the sin of verbal abuse knows no gender. Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? . . . Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks.”

The potential value in addressing each gender in turn lies in our oft-repeated belief that men and women are different, play different roles, and should even cultivate different virtues. But as Mark IV astutely asks us in the comments, “Can you (or anybody else) help me understand what he means with the ‘purposes and virtues’ of the genders? I would love to know. For as much as we talk about them, I would expect to see some explication, rather than just vague hints.” We’re bold in affirming our belief in gender differences, but tentative when it comes to articulating just what those differences should entail specifically.

Elder Holland concedes that “verbal abuse knows no gender,” thus implying that his remarks apply to everyone equally, and yet still sees fit to address each gender using different terms: women are “gifts” to men, and he addresses husbands “especially” regarding the topic of abuse (implying they are especially guilty of it), whereas wives are simultaneously “inherently kind” and yet in spite of that they are, one might conclude from this talk, more prone than men to “gossip, backbiting, or catty remarks.” (Are we women, natural geysers of sugar and honey (sorry–I seem to have sent my sarcasm filter out to the cleaners and don’t know when to expect it back!), thus more guilty than men when our tongues become “daggers”?)

Given his acknowledgment that both women and men misuse their tongues–heck, I’m starting to think this entire post may be a misuse of my typing skills–is this the most helpful way for Elder Holland (whom I greatly admire, and whose talk makes excellent points I really should pay more attention to) to frame this discussion? I’m certainly not opposed to ever addressing men and women separately. Obviously, a talk on the giving of blessings is most appropriately addressed to men exclusively, just as it makes sense to address a talk on grandparenting to grandparents.

But is it helpful to single out each gender and berate them for characteristic sins, to reiterate stereotypes in the process of asking us to rise above them, or does this only lead us to feel more divided against each other?

If virtue is indeed gendered, then sins are likewise gendered, and it follows that women should be castigated for engaging in behavior that would be acceptable for men, and vice versa.

But while we continue to cling to this notion that different virtues and roles apply to each gender, we’re reluctant to elaborate very far on the details (women are told to be “nurturing”–does this imply men should be “less nurturing,” for example?). Since we’re told men and women are and should be different, how can we avoid concluding, when we’re addressed separately, that the way we’re each addressed has some bearing on those eternal differences?

To me it would make sense either to lay out clearly the different virtues each gender should embrace and how spouses should behave differently toward each other in marriage, and then address wives and husbands accordingly, or else make it clear that injunctions to cultivate more Christlike behavior are universally applicable. As long as we continue to affirm the importance of our nebulous gender roles, reciprocity simply cannot be assumed when unstated.

(Lastly, and most urgently, can someone tell me why I’m online goofing off when I have a million things to do? That’s all for now.)

39 Responses to “Is There Value in Addressing Women and Men Separately?”

  1. 1.

    You bring up a good point. I am currently a graduate student in Child Psychology and we talk a lot about between group differences (the differences between boys and girls) and within group differences (the differences between different girls). I admit that when men and women are addressed and characterized separately in talks, the psychologist in my bristles a bit. When we talk about groups in this way, we ignore the vast within group differences. Most psychologists recognize the need to study both between and within group differences in order to get the fuller picture. However, in the church it seems like we focus more on the differences between men and women rather then the differences between different women or different men.

    Sorry if this is somewhat of a tangent, but one of my pet peeves in this area is the comment that women are more spiritual then men. This is how the psychologist in me thinks about that statement. If spirituality could somehow be measured you could measure a large group of men and a large group of women on their spirituality. You could then find an average spirituality score for the women and an average spirituality score for the men. While it is possible that the average spirituality score for women might be higher then the average for men, there would still be a good deal of overlap between the two groups. Thus if you randomly selected one woman and one man from your groups it would be hard to predict whether the man or the woman would have a higher spirituality score. I know that I sound really nerdy, but if you think about this statement from a psychological perspective, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is a huge overgeneralization and ignores individual differences. Additionally, when people make this comment I don’t know if they are referring to just women and men who are members of the church, or if they are referring to women and men in general.

  2. 2.

    I think the risk is a generic talk leaves women thinking “oh, he’s just talking about the men who are verbally abusive” and the men are thinking “oh, he’s just talking about the women who gossip.” If his approach helps people better recognize their own sins, then it was a good move. The question is whether men really are more likely to be verbally abusive and women really are more likely to gossip, and that’s a question I have no idea how to answer.

  3. 3.

    Lastly, and most urgently, can someone tell me why I’m online goofing off when I have a million things to do? That’s all for now.

    displacement activity. not good for productivity!

  4. 4.

    In the case of speaking kindly to one another, I find no value in addressing men and women separately. As Beatrice points out, there’s as much variation within a particular group than without it. I’ve met quite a few men who are vicious gossips, along with plenty of verbally abusive women.

    Honestly, I really can’t think of one moral value off the top of my head where it might be beneficial to tailor the message depending on the sex of the person who is hearing it. Certainly there are stereotypes – i.e, men are physically aggressive when angry, while women dissolve into hysterical tears, but the common message is the same for both – control your temper.

  5. 5.

    Great comment, Beatrice. Like you, I bristle to hear that women are more spiritual than men. What interests me more than whether or not this could somehow be empirically demonstrated to be accurate is why we keep affirming to ourselves that it is. I sort of wonder whether Elder Holland isn’t somewhat afraid of chastising the women–a behavior we’ve virtually precluded as unnecessary since we continually construct narratives about how gentle, loving, and Godlike women are from the moment of birth–where he has fewer qualms about chastising the men. He couches his rebuke with claims that women have “angelic” voices and are “inherently kind,” which makes it frankly difficult to understand how women’s tongues could also be “shrill,” “acrid,” and “untamed.” (It seems to me that when confronted with evidence of a power discrepancy in the Church, the tendency is to lash out at the men for “unrighteous dominion” and coddle the women for being innocent victims, without asking where men got the dominion to start with.)

    Julie, you raise a couple of good points–on the first, this is exactly why I think it would be helpful to make it explicitly clear he’s addressing everyone when he says not to be shrill, gossip, or verbally abuse. But your next point seems to contradict your first–if the women don’t pay attention to a talk on verbal abuse because it’s generic (and they assume it’s a male sin), how much less will they pay attention if it’s only addressed to men? There likely are different tendencies in how men and women speak inappropriately (women in general are socialized to express negative emotions less directly), but, to go back to Beatrice’s first paragraph, if there’s any overlap then I see value in addressing everyone. Partly because I wonder whether talks that single out and castigate particular groups aren’t more likely to breed resentment, since the implication is that one is sort of guilty by one’s association with the group, not for one’s individual behavior.

  6. 6.

    Partly because I wonder whether talks that single out and castigate particular groups aren’t more likely to breed resentment, since the implication is that one is sort of guilty by one’s association with the group, not for one’s individual behavior.

    Amen to this statement. I have a hard time with general statements about women in church whether positive or negative because I see big differences between the different women in my ward. Some of the women are very nurturing, kind, and gentle and I admire them for those traits. Other women are analytical and intelligent. (I am in no way saying that these traits are mutually exclusive). But when I hear these statements about women being nurturing and kind I think to myself, “There are certainly women who have those traits more then I do. Can’t I be viewed as having the traits that I actually have rather then being characterized in this general way?”

  7. 7.

    Oh, and there are also men who are very nurturing and kind and these traits aren’t as recognized in them.

  8. 8.

    So would you say the same goes for youth in the Church. We shouldn’t specifically address them because it breeds resentment? We see the difficulties and “temptations” they face singled out all the time. I am reminded of James E. Faust’s talk about “living on the edge” or thrill-seeking in my college days.
    Assuming you are correct, what would be a better strategy in light of the fact that certain groups of people are going to face certain different sets of problems and issues? I am assuming that addressing these issues is considered part of their calling as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.

  9. 9.

    I am currently a graduate student in Child Psychology and we talk a lot about between group differences (the differences between boys and girls) and within group differences (the differences between different girls).

    Beatrice, it warms my heart to read such statistical language. I wouldn’t want to be the only one who enjoyed a little fun with numbers on this blog. ;)

  10. 10.

    Doc:

    So would you say the same goes for youth in the Church. We shouldn’t specifically address them because it breeds resentment?

    I think Kiskilili already addressed this issue more generally in #5:

    to go back to Beatrice’s first paragraph, if there’s any overlap then I see value in addressing everyone.

    If I understand Kiskilili’s reading of Beatrice correctly, if there is overlap in the challenges faced by young people and the challenges faced by adults, we might all be productively addressed together.

    And I wouldn’t discount the possibility of resentment from age-specific chastisement just as from gender-specific chastisement. For example, I was neurotically self-controlled as a teenager, and I likely didn’t need to hear any more about thrill seeking troublesomeness than adults did.

  11. 11.

    That’s a great question, Doc. I should clarify that I’m not necessarily opposed to holding meetings to which only certain groups are invited (women, men, youth, people with six fingers, etc.). Also, in some cases different rules explicitly apply to different groups of people: the rules regarding chastity that are enforced for singles are different from those for marrieds. Since this is unambiguously the case, I see no problem here applying different expectations to different groups.

    Similarly, youth are not held to exactly the same rules which apply to adults (who are given some measure of power over youth), which again presents a genuine situation in which what’s appropriate for one person to do is not appropriate for another.

    Still, like Ziff, I see no reason not to make it clear when the youth are addressed, in the vast majority of cases, that the standards being enjoined on them are appropriate for everyone, adults as well.

    One year at Education Week, when I was about 19 and not sure whether I was a youth or an adult, I attended an adult class in which I was, far and away, the youngest person present. The speaker would read selected verses from the Book of Mormon and then make comments to the effect of, “Do our youth today have a problem with pride?” “Do our youth today have a problem with lying?” I half-wanted to stand up and announce, “I, the resident youth, confess that I indeed have a problem with pride, lying, and everything else.” To me this seemed silly–since everyone else was an adult, why not address our collective problem with pride? What was gained by singling out the youth?

  12. 12.

    So true, Beatrice. Of course women can be nurturing and kind, but claiming that they are universally (a) is demonstrably false (what are we supposed to think if we’re female but don’t feel particularly kind–that we’re some sort of genetic mutant?), and (b) codes nurturing behaviors as specifically feminine and thus non-masculine, which is ridiculous. We have a serious problem conflating the ideal and the norm when it comes to our image of women in the Church.

  13. 13.

    A good question, Kiskilili. I’d say probably not, or not so much that would justify the amount of segregated preaching that we do. I wish they would just address us all as the lowdown sinners that we are.

    I’m trying to think of an area where the struggles men and women face are so different that instructing them separately would be justified. Pr0n, maybe? Over 90% of it is consumed by males. But women are the primary consumers of the bodice-ripper romance novel, which, I’m told, can be very graphic. But even when these temptations are almost exclusively gender specific, we need to remember Beatrice’s point about variation within the group. An 80 y.o. high priest isn’t tempted with pr0n the same way a 17 y.o. priest is. (Although I once attended a ward where there were only a few elders, so we met with the high priests for the priesthood lesson, and the high priests were all really old – 70+. The topic of the day was moral purity. I was spellbound as I listened to bald guys with hearing aids and walkers and dentures recount their adventures with the law of chastity.)

    I think our practice of having MP and RS meet together occasionally is a step in the right direction.

  14. 14.

    I think our practice of having MP and RS meet together occasionally is a step in the right direction.

    This makes it sound like the ideal would then be for both genders to always meet that way, and I can’t agree.

    There is a body of literature about how women’s-only gyms are beneficial for women, and girls-only schools are positive for young women. I don’t know if men also benefit, but unquestionably they are good for many women.

    I realize that the issue of addressing various groups (the original topic) is a different issue than *meeting* as different groups, but since it was brought up.

    Also, many LDS feminists I know were upset at the demise of the Relief Society magazine and making the RS an auxillary rather than a totally independent entity. How would it be helpful to give up that time of our own?

  15. 15.

    back to post #11, I would like to know how the chastity guideline is any different for ‘marrieds’ or ‘singles’? Only men and women lawfully married to each other may engage in sexual activity. It is the *exact* same for everyone.

  16. 16.

    Two thoughts:

    1) As Mark IV points out, there ARE areas where the sins of men and women are different. He mentions pornography. As a Bishop, I worked with several (15-20) ward members struggling to overcome this sin. All were male. One was in his late 60s, one was mid-50s, and all the rest were teenagers or men in their 20s. None were female.

    The same is true of other morality issues such as masturbation. While this is more of a female problem than pornography, the numbers were still more like 15 men vs. 3 women.

    There were definite (and measurable) differences in other temple-worthy determining categories.

    2) Having been in leadership positions (Bishop/Bishopric) in several wards, I think I understand what the Brethren mean when they say things like the women in the church are more spiritual than the men. In every ward I have been in, the statistics show:
    - there are more women than men who join the church
    - a higher % of women attend Sacrament Meeting than men
    - more women do their Visiting Teaching than men do their Home Teaching
    - more welfare service assistance is done by women than by men
    - a higher % of women pay a full tithing
    - a lower % of women fail to follow through on assignments
    - fewer women commit sins that require the attention of the Bishop
    and so on…

    So while we are ALL sinners, and men ARE capable of being just as spiritual as women, I can say that after years and years of seeing these differences in how they live the gospel, and seeing the differences transcend cultures, locations, wards, etc, I also have concluded that for some reason not understood by me, women as a group are better than men in several key categories that I believe reflect on the level of faith of the members.

    Why? I have some thoughts but I don’t have an answer.

  17. 17.

    To get back to the original question. I don’t really have a problem with addressing men and women separately. I just think that when you do so it is important to acknowledge that there are individual as well as group differences in order to avoid overgeneralzations. So if you make a statement about pornography you can point out that this is predominately a problem with men but that it is also a problem with some women. I think that usually the General Authorities are pretty good at this.

    Hoish thanks for pointing out some specific reasons why women are thought to be more spiritual then men. I knew some of these things existed but wasn’t aware that there were so many. I guess in this area I don’t really see the value of pointing this out all the time. I certainly don’t feel better when people go on and on about how spiritual women are. What I think is, “I have faults too. Can’t I just be human instead of being put on a pedestal?”

  18. 18.

    hoish,

    I’m very interested in following up on your comment. Given the criteria that you have presented, it looks like an airtight case of female superiority. But with different criteria, we can get a different result. For instance, if righteousness is defined as the readiness to risk one’s life or physical well-being for a stranger (surely we can agree that is a Christ-like attribute), males are superior. The overwhelming majority of the people who willingly ran into the burning WTC to rescue others had X chromosomes. And it would be interesting to know a few other things from your perspective as a priesthood leader. For instance, how many of the petty disputes and interpersonal squabbles you were called upon to referee among the members of your ward involved females only, beginning with the beehives? My guess would be at least 75%.

    Then there isthis research. I don’t know how much stock to place in a sample this small, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more research tomorrow refuting it. I nonetheless find it useful for our purposes here, because, in my opinion, it describes the norm in LDS marriages. If the wife is more righteous, why shouldn’t she make more demands? And if a man is spiritually deficient, it makes sense for him to continually defer to his more advanced partner. I’ve been present multiple times in temple sealings where the officiator sternly informs the prospective groom that his wife is a better person than he and he should treat her accordingly, and nobody even raises an eyebrow. I find that horrifying.

    I see great danger to the church if we continue with this approach. Just as I believe our well-meant social policies over the past 60 years have inflicted damage on the black family by rendering the father superfluous, I’m afraid we will pay a price for our continued diminuation of Mormon men in comparison to their wives. In the last 100 years we have gone from a church rhetoric which unabashedly praised men at the expense of
    women to the opposite pole, where to even question the superiority of women or the baseness of men is mildly heretical.

    We needn’t wonder why men don’t participate more in church when we subject them to a steady stream of scolding from the pulpit about their lousy hometeaching performance, their disgusting pornography habits, and their constant need to defer to their wives. As my hero, Homer Simpson, said after being harangued yet again about his non-attendance at church: “Hey, I love my family and work hard for them. Why should I have to spend half my Sunday listening to somebody tell me I’m going to hell?” We can’t blame people for being unwilling to participate in their own abasement.

  19. 19.

    I also feel like the rhetoric about women being “naturally” more nurturing, spiritual, etc. discounts the hard WORK I do to grow spiritually and especially to nurture my children. From inside my brain, it doesn’t feel like there’s anything “natural” about patiently responding to my daughter asking for the 400th time in one day “how do you spell ____”, or refraining from clobbering my 10-year-old when he’s making fun of his little brother’s artwork, or whatever. There’s nothing about being female that makes it less work for me to respond in appropriate and nurturing ways than it is for their dad. I sometimes suspect that this rhetoric is popular because many men realize, deep down, that childcare and housework are not jobs they would enjoy doing full-time, and they would feel really bad about asking women to make those sacrifices if they couldn’t convince themselves that women enjoy it more than they would.

  20. 20.

    After glancing over this thread one more time, I can see that my comment # 18 is not even remotely on topic. My apologies for the massive threadjack.

  21. 21.

    Mine’s not on topic, either. However, unlike Mark, I am not sorry–I feel much better having gotten that off my chest :)

  22. 22.

    Mark and Kristine,

    It’s not my thread (paging Kiskilili!) but I think you should feel welcome to threadjack away, particularly when you make such interesting points.

    I think it was Eve who said once that “all true conversation is tangent,” and I tend to agree.

  23. 23.

    Mark and Kristine-It may have been a thread jack, but they were great comments!

    Mark,I have always been very frustrated at leaders implying men are spiriutal idiots. Not only does it keep men from wanting to come to church, but it also offers an excuse for men not to live up to their spirituality.

    Ktistine, great point!

  24. 24.

    Midwife #15, I probably didn’t phrase that well–what I meant is that you can say to a singles’ ward (but not a married ward), “avoid sex, and avoid situations that might lead to sex,” since the law is contingent on circumstance (although obviously the circumstances can change in this case). (I was trying to think of a completely uncontroversial example of a situation in which different rules apply to different groups of people that are actually frequently addressed separately in the Church. You might be able to come up with a better example?)

    Regarding issues like porn and masturbation, which are largely considered male problems, I wonder how women feel who do commit such sins (and everyone agrees the number is not zero). Are they guiltier than men committing the same sins, and should they be more ashamed than men, not just for sinning, but for transgressing gender expectations? I was once in a singles’ ward in which the women and men were separated for the annual chastity talk (not necessarily a bad thing in itself). I don’t know what the men were told (I doubt it was pretty), but we women learned that we were naturally pure and innocent and free from sexual urges. I have to believe this sort of approach, in which women are mummified into thoroughly unrealistic angelic molds, is less than helpful for those of us women who live in a messy world of flesh and blood.

    When women and men are addressed separately, it would be valuable to have articulated explicitly whether or not the topic is appropriate exclusively to the group being addressed. For example, when Margaret Nadauld said, “The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender,” was she outlining a prescriptive femininity (tough men are laudable, whereas tough women are suspect), or did she mean we should all be tender simply because we’re Christians?

    Nice threadjacks, Mark and Kristine. One of the problems with alleging that the ideal woman is in fact the norm is that we effectively blind ourselves to women’s sacrifices and struggles. If for Mother’s Day, for example, we exalt women for engaging in unremittingly angelic and self-sacrificing behaviors, we’ve actually precluded the possibility of genuinely honoring mothers since we’ve convinced ourselves this is how they naturally behave, as though it’s effortless, and any motherly deviation from Godliness is inexplicable. After all, we don’t honor cats for bathing by licking themselves. (And I’m extremely suspicious when men gush over women’s “God-given” talents at doing all sorts of things it’s frankly inconvenient for men to do.)

    In a roundabout way, when we tongue-lash the men for their appalling behavior and eulogize the women for being naturally on the level of God, I wonder whether we don’t do everyone a similar disservice: men because no matter how much effort they put into improving they can never repent of being men (thus incorrigibly spiritually oafish and errant, if we trust our conventional wisdom), and women because they can never accept praise that’s patently false, and must agonize over any betrayal of their “naturally” angelic dispositions.

    Mark, I suspect you already know that I think this tendency to idolize women’s allegedly innate spiritual superiority stems from a recognition of and discomfort with the discrepancy in power between the genders. Confronted with charges that women are “oppressed,” the Church typically responds that Mormon women are in fact unusually honored and adored, and rushes to lavish women with further idolization. Needless to say, I consider this an unfortunately misguided effort to remedy the situation.

  25. 25.

    I’m afraid we will pay a price for our continued diminuation of Mormon men in comparison to their wives.

    I’m not sure that what you have described is indeed a diminution of Mormon men. The references you have given refer to natural tendencies, not the end result.

    For example, a body of scientific literature on gender differences in pain shows that women have less tolerance of pain than men do. When given the same stimulus in a lab situation, women report feeling pain sooner (lower threshhold) and break off the experiment sooner. That’s the observed difference of how they are naturally different.

    But the reality is that women somehow manage to endure menstrual cramps and childbirth. They may have less natural ability, but they use what they have and do their best.

    If anyone were saying that a man can never be as spiritual as a woman, then I think you wold have a point. But nobody is saying that. They are simply recognizing the differences they have observed. What we actually do and how we end up is up to each of us.

    I had a colonoscopy without any medication, and I am sure that men can become spiritual giants.

  26. 26.

    [...] men. This idea can be found in many texts and discourses of Mormondom; a recent example arises in a discussion thread drawing on an excellent post by Kiskilili at Zelophehad’s Daughters. I have no doubt that an [...]

  27. 27.

    “For example, a body of scientific literature on gender differences in pain shows that women have less tolerance of pain than men do. When given the same stimulus in a lab situation, women report feeling pain sooner (lower threshhold) and break off the experiment sooner. That’s the observed difference of how they are naturally different.”

    Naismith, I can see huge potential problems in taking a lab situation you describe as evidence that women have a lower pain tolerance than men. The biggest issue I see is that it relies on the patients accurately describing their state. A woman who has no reason to project a tough-guy masculine image isn’t going to grit her teeth and put up with as much pain as she can possibly stand and hold off on admitting that it hurts for as long as possible. If this study corrected for that I’d be very curious to see how they did so. I don’t see it being reasonable to assume that men naturaly have a higher threshold for pain when they have very culturally ingrained training to *act* like they do.

  28. 28.

    Re: the scientific literature on pain, we tend to cite the opposite finding, that women notoriously under-report pain and men over-report, and it’s worse in youth. most practicing physicians adjust for that and recognize that an older woman complaining of pain is likely to have an actual problem, while a young man is likely to have nothing particularly wrong with him. i suspect the literature, being primarily psychological in nature, has a great deal of noise vs. signal in it. There are clearly sexual and gender differences with biological basis, but it’s tricky to try to tease those out and almost impossible to valorize them meaningfully.

  29. 29.

    Naismith,

    I do not deny that we can discern certain differences in behavioral tendencies between men and women. Male brain chemistry differs from female brain chemistry, and brain chemistry has a strong influence on the things we do. For instance, testosterone is known to cause aggressive behavior, (women undergoing testosterone therapy exhibit more aggressive behavior and more interest in sex than they did before the therapy) and most men have more of it than most women. Does that make women inherently better? I argue that it does not.

  30. 30.

    If this study corrected for that I’d be very curious to see how they did so.

    Those issues are discussed in the section entitled “men and women” in this interview written for a non-technical audience.

    The research with mice is particularly compelling to me, because social pressure is not such a factor in rodents, and because experimenters were able to do tests and then change the hormonal makeup by means such as castrating the specimens or hormonal injections, and the subsequent test results were influenced by current hormonal status. And the different pathways that have been mapped in male and female rodents.

    As background, in the US it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that federally funded studies or trials for new drugs to be approved by the FDA had to include women. Prior to that, researchers thought their menstrual cycles would make women unreliable subjects, so they weren’t included in clinical trials of most pain-killing drugs; there was just the assumption that if it worked in men, it would work with women (which kind of seems outrageous when you read Mogil’s ideas on pink and blue versions of pills). So the first big studies were funded in the late 1990s and published in the early- to mid-2000s and we’re just starting to see translational research, bridging the gap between basic science and clinical practice.

  31. 31.

    Does that make women inherently better? I argue that it does not.

    I’m not so sure about your use of the word “better.” What I’ve heard church leaders say is that women have a proclivity or disposition for doing good. I don’t think that is the same as “better.”

  32. 32.

    Lots of great comments/questions. Let me respond 1-by-1:

    I just think that when you do so it is important to acknowledge that there are individual as well as group differences in order to avoid overgeneralzations.

    I agree.

    I guess in this area I don’t really see the value of pointing this out all the time.

    Neither do I.

    But with different criteria, we can get a different result. For instance, if righteousness is defined as the readiness to risk one’s life or physical well-being for a stranger (surely we can agree that is a Christ-like attribute), males are superior.

    I agree.

    For instance, how many of the petty disputes and interpersonal squabbles you were called upon to referee among the members of your ward involved females only, beginning with the beehives? My guess would be at least 75%.

    Closer to 95%. And it involved all ages.

    I’ve been present multiple times in temple sealings where the officiator sternly informs the prospective groom that his wife is a better person than he and he should treat her accordingly, and nobody even raises an eyebrow. I find that horrifying.

    I agree. Let me clarify my observations. There are more active women than men. And there are more women members than men. But in the case where both the man and the woman are faithful members of the church, and both are temple-worthy, my observation is that the spirituality is roughly comparable. And there are many cases where I would consider the man to be more spiritual than his wife. So while as a group, there are reasons why women may be considered more spiritual than men, my personal opinion is that the generalizations do NOT hold true in individual cases.

    I see great danger to the church if we continue with this approach. Just as I believe our well-meant social policies over the past 60 years have inflicted damage on the black family by rendering the father superfluous, I’m afraid we will pay a price for our continued diminuation of Mormon men in comparison to their wives. In the last 100 years we have gone from a church rhetoric which unabashedly praised men at the expense of women to the opposite pole, where to even question the superiority of women or the baseness of men is mildly heretical.

    Good point.

    I have always been very frustrated at leaders implying men are spiriutal idiots. Not only does it keep men from wanting to come to church, but it also offers an excuse for men not to live up to their spirituality.

    Once again, I agree. But then we non-spiritual types will look for any way to rationalize our transgressions. ;-)

    Regarding issues like porn and masturbation, which are largely considered male problems, I wonder how women feel who do commit such sins (and everyone agrees the number is not zero). Are they guiltier than men committing the same sins, and should they be more ashamed than men, not just for sinning, but for transgressing gender expectations?

    In the individual cases I dealt with, I never saw that the women felt any worse than the men. It was pretty consistent embarassment and guilt between the genders.

  33. 33.

    Regarding porn and masturbation, I can’t help but wonder how many women would actually go confess these sins to a male priesthood leader. Discussions/lectures on the subject are so geared to men that I am not sure how many women who have this struggle would actually confess their sin-regardless of how guilt they feel about it. I am not sure I would. As a woman (and a single woman) I am not sure how horribly guilty I would have to feel in order to go meet with a male and discuss various aspects of my sexuality. I am not sure if I could ever feel that bad.

    I think when we take that into consideration we may not know how many women actually struggle with these issues.

    Hoish-LOL-at least you have an excuse to use…you were made that way!!!! :)

  34. 34.

    Amen, Tanya Sue.

    It was never even suggested in all my years in YW that girls could masturbate, with the pleasant result that I kept doing it guilt free for years. I’m pretty sure I would never have confessed to the bishop, even if I had realized what I was doing was wrong.

  35. 35.

    Anon-I have always been a little bold and asked my bishop as a teenager why it wasn’t brought up to the teenage girls. I was told that they didn’t want to give the girls any ideas. Any ideas? What? How can we avoid sin if we don’t know what the sins are? I wonder how many girls are like you and had some fun because no one told you that shouldn’t.

  36. 36.

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  37. 37.

    Richter:

    Well said.

    I find your thoughts to be insightful and remarkably cogent, especially when compared to some of the thoughts already expressed on this thread, e.g. #s 18, 20, and 29.

  38. 38.

    You’re online goofing off BECAUSE you have a million things to do. Or maybe that’s just the way it works for me…

  39. 39.

    I really think that if you can’t get past something as trivial as the fact that he admonished those of seperate genders seperately, you are not in the right frame of mind and should seek to understand the simpleness of the message. From the stand point of a general authority, who i am sure has heard much of the problems and difficulties among the many members, He is simply addressing, and exhorting the members about things that there have been a possible trend of this sort of behavior recently with in the church. And I am sure you can all find other things to nit pick the leaders of the church about if you look hard enough, given they are human and not perfect. But since you all seam to be “Floating and Glowing” already on your own, who am I to point out that this seems a little like fault finding and a little like unto back-biting. just a thought!

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