They said, “Let us win.”

John McCain in Friday night’s debate:

I’d like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom.

I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here.

And this strategy, and this general, they are winning.

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The Tragedy of Aborted Geniuses

I can’t believe I’m wading into the abortion debate, but Steve’s and Jay‘s recent posts on the topic at BCC and Elder Nelson’s October Ensign article (not yet available online) have inspired me to tackle an anti-abortion argument that’s long bothered me. In this post I’ll confine my comments to a particular story I’ve seen in arguments against abortion. (And, let there be no mistake, the omnipotent if site-specific Bouncer will also confine your comments to that issue. If you want to discuss the narrative and implicit arguments I examine here, to favor or oppose or express your utter indifference to them, I will read with great interest. If you want to discuss various ways we value life based on assessments of intelligence, beauty, or other such factors, I will read with equally great interest. But please refrain from rehashing familiar pro-life and/or pro-choice arguments, knocking down straw or actual men and women, and making blanket generalizations about pro-lifers and/or pro-choicers, and engaging in the abortion or culture wars more generally. If this thread disintegrates into yet another debate over the legalities of abortion, I–ahem, that is to say, of course, the Bouncer–will shut it down.) Read More

Cruelty to Boys

For most of my life I’ve found Mormon-girl and Mormon-woman culture infuriating and alienating. I despise passive-aggressive triangulation and insincere niceness and gossipy backstabbing, in others and especially in myself. I’m all for greater assertiveness and directness and less apology for one’s existence and neurotic hand-wringing over one’s perceived sins, chief among them the sin for which no woman can be forgiven in this life or in the life to come, failure to be nice. Read More

How Do I Change Who I Am for Myself?

When your life is tightly entwined with the lives of others, you adjust who you are to meet their needs and expectations.  For example, spouses make small, daily adjustments so that they don’t push their partners’ buttons.  Parents postpone their desires in order to tend to those of their children.  When not taken to an extreme, this is a good thing.

The past couple years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about to what extent we should bend who we are to make our relationships with others work.  While I still have a lot of unanswered questions about the outer limits of sacrifice, I’ve learned to embrace the ways that relationships can refine us and transform us into better versions of ourselves.  But now my life circumstances have changed, and because I want to continue a process of transformation, now I’m wondering: how do I change who I am for myself? Read More

Documenting Changing Church Rhetoric on Gender Roles

My impression is that Church rhetoric defines women by their roles more often than it does men. Women are wives and mothers. Even if they aren’t technically mothers, women are mothers, because that’s just who they are. Men, on the other hand, sure we’re admonished to be good husbands and fathers, but those roles are discussed as being much less central to who we are. I would be shocked, for example, if someone gave a talk titled “Are We Not All Fathers?” in General Conference.

When this difference in the centrality of women’s and men’s gender roles is discussed, one hope that is often held out is that the Church is changing. Women are coming to be defined less by their roles and more as people of worth even if they don’t take on those roles, and men are being reminded more often that our roles as husband and father should be central to our lives.

It occurred to me recently that I could easily test for whether such a change is actually occurring by looking at how often different words are used in articles archived at Read More

The Inspired Call: Overstating the Case?

A couple of months ago, I received a new calling. I’d sufficiently recovered from certain previous callings to feel that I could yet again give church a chance and make my availability known. In many respects, I was extremely fortunate in the way that process played out. A woman I know and like had recently been called as RS president, and one Sunday I happened upon her in the foyer and explained both my willingness to serve and the limitations of my current situation. Because of circumstances involving my own health and my husband’s inactivity, I can’t fulfill a Primary or weekly teaching calling right now and probably won’t be able to for the next couple of years. So I suggested that a Relief Society committee might be appropriate. Read More