Feb 28

Another Conversation Stopper

There are several phrases commonly used to shut down discussions surrounding gender issues in the LDS church.  My co-bloggers have already discussed several including: “If you only understood your role as a woman, you would be happy.” and “Admit it. What you really want is the priesthood.”  One that I have been thinking about a lot recently is the phrase, “Men and women are just different.”  This phrase is often used to justify any differential treatment of men and women within the LDS church.  However, I find it a pretty poor justification for this differential treatment for several key reasons.

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Feb 24

A quick observation on a topical topic

As Mormons (in fact, as Christians), we’re asked all the time to resist worldly beliefs, worldly ideologies, worldly practices, worldly what-have-you, in favor of the transcendent, absolute truth of the gospel. “Worldly” here, of course, stands for local culture with its array of conventional cultural practices that may be more or less dissonant with gospel principles. So, for example, American culture says (wherever you locate the “voice” of American culture, which is clearly not univocal) that sexual activity is fine in a number of different situations and relationships; the Church says, nope, only marriage. American culture (or some segments of it) says, get ahead and make lots of money and buy stuff and you’ll be happy; the gospel suggests we focus on family and relationships instead. American culture (in the voice of Dale Cooper) says coffee is a-okay; the Church says, we have revelation to the contrary, have some Ovaltine. Continue reading

Feb 21

When Someone You Care About is Depressed: Things That Have Helped Me

When I blog about my experiences with depression, I frequently have people ask me how they can help those in their lives who are struggling with this illness. I’m always a little hesitant to answer the question, because people’s needs can vary widely. But I figured I’d list some of what I’ve personally found helpful, and less helpful, in my own experience.

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Feb 19

If You Only Understood!

A few years ago, a friend of mine from Israel came to church with me. He was curious about Mormonism, and he happened to come on – you guessed it – a Fast Sunday. I prepared him ahead of time for the likelihood of congregants offering unusual personal stories from the pulpit, thinking that by doing so I was covering most of my bases. It ended up being a pleasant enough meeting, mostly filled with streams of little kids getting up and being cute in front of the microphone. I felt a certain amount of relief heading into Sunday School for the second hour.

This was a large, well-attended ward in Utah County. The Sunday School was packed, and it was clear from the lack of a set time for visitor introductions that few visitors came. No one knew there was a non-Mormon in their midst. And then the Sunday School teacher, an older gentleman, began to talk about the Holy Land and the Last Days. Continue reading

Feb 19

Who Wrote the Proclamation on the Family?

While the Proclamation on the Family was nominally written by all 15 men serving in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve at the time it was issued, it seems likely that some of them were more central to the project than others. For some reason, I’ve always thought it was Elder Nelson’s baby, although I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s just because divine gender roles seems to be his favorite topic.

In any case, the writers aren’t likely to tell us who was most and least involved, but I wonder if they might have revealed this information to us indirectly. It seems reasonable to assume that those who were most enamored of the project would quote from and refer to the document most often. So I went back and checked who has referred to the Proclamation the most.

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Feb 16

This Life of Continuing

Last summer, I posted about some of the mental health-related challenges that I’d been facing in the previous year. It’s been about six months since I wrote that post, and I thought it would be interesting to write about some of the things that have happened since then.

I saw my psychiatrist a few days ago. He’s new, and we’re still getting to know each other. We agreed that I’m doing pretty well and there’s no need to tinker with my meds right now. I said, as I always do, that I’m still not convinced that I need to take them, and that I want to have another “me” who’s not on meds to be a control group, so that we can determine whether or not they are actually doing anything. He said we could do a double-blind study in which neither of us knew whether the meds were placebos, and see what happened. Except that he doubted we would get approval from the Human Subjects Research Board. I had to laugh. It’s always nice when mental health professionals have a sense of humor, and actually talk to you instead of lecturing. Continue reading

Feb 14

When Bad Missions Get Worse: A Request for Advice

As I said in response to Galdralag’s post, my mission was a very positive experience overall, a sea change in my spiritual life. (It was also hard and unremitting, as missions are wont to be, and I’d never want to go through the daily proselyting slog again.) But in spite of my own positive experience I feel a little terror when I think about my children serving missions. I know people whose missions inflicted lasting damage on them–spiritually, emotionally, socially, even physically. I’m acquainted with a couple of men whose missions destroyed their testimonies, and more than a couple of men and women who endured emotionally abusive companions. Continue reading

Feb 12

Some Thoughts on the Bloggernacle

I’ve been thinking lately about some of the challenges of blogging. (Millennial Star recently had a really interesting discussion about Bloggernacle dynamics here, and I’ve also been thinking about some of the issues regarding audience  that Eve raised several years ago in this post. Additionally, T&S recently had a conversation about the boundaries of the “Bloggernacle”, and its relationship to LDS blogs more generally.) And one particular question I’ve been contemplating goes back to a much-debated question: what are the issues at stake when we publicly discuss more difficult aspects of the church? (As long as I’m linking, I’m pretty sure that Kaimi had a post several years ago, which I can’t seem to find, on the question of whether we should ever say anything negative about the church when non-members might be listening.) Continue reading

Feb 10

Questions From and For Our Readers: Feminism and Serving a Mission

A few days ago one of our readers, a 20-year-old college student and feminist who is considering serving a mission, sent in some questions about feminism and missionary service. With her permission I’m posting them here for you, our excellent readers, to weigh in on:

  1. Did you know you were feminist/ have feminist beliefs before the mission?
  2. Were you aware of the apparent disjoint between those views and the teachings of the church? If so, how did that impact your decision to go on a mission? Continue reading
Feb 10

Pet Peeve

Unintentional sexism/homophobia/racism is still sexism/homophobia/racism.

Well-meaning sexism/homophobia/racism is still sexism/homophobia/racism.

Misguided sexism/homophobia/racism is still sexism/homophobia/racism.

Ignorant sexism/homophobia/racism is still sexism/homophobia/racism

 

Just because something is unintentional, well-meaning, misguided, or stemming from ignorance doesn’t mean that it’s okay.

Feb 09

Wait … What Does that Mean?

The recent upset over YW General President Elaine Dalton’s BYU devotional address on January 15 (see Lynnette’s piece here, fMh here and here, and an interesting letter at Young Mormon Feminists here) centers upon a specific comment directed to LDS young women: “You will also be the ones to provide an example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined and disintegrating. You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights.” (full video here)

As many have mentioned in the articles linked above, part of the problem with these two sentences is that they are vague. What form of lobbying is President Dalton referring to? To whom, specifically, is she directing her comments? After all, BYU students come from all over the world. Is she talking about political rights? “Rights” within the LDS church? Within BYU? Her use of the word “lobbying” gives the sentence a political feel, but it’s hard to be sure.

This got me thinking: President Dalton’s speech, and the confusion and careful analysis of  her language that ensued, are not exactly rare occurrences in Mormonism. We often hear imprecise phrases and ambiguous references in talks from our living leaders. Why is this? Continue reading

Feb 03

You Just Want the Priesthood

In blog conversations about a variety of Mormon feminist topics, someone will occasionally stop by to say something along the lines of, “Admit it. What you really want is the priesthood.” Or perhaps, “What’s next? Women demanding the priesthood?” (I’ve noticed that this has been a particularly frequent occurrence in the infamous FB discussions of All Enlisted’s proposals that women wear pants to church, and write GAs about women praying in conference.) Continue reading

Feb 02

Confessions of a Conflict-Avoidant Feminist Blogger

Maybe this can be blamed on my being a middle child (I’m the third of seven). Or maybe it’s just a temperament thing. But whatever the cause, I would describe myself as a pretty conflict-avoidant person. I really like people to get along. Tension and fighting often make me anxious—and if I’m personally involved, they can make me extremely anxious. In such cases I’m prone to feel sick, and often unable to sleep, until things are resolved. I can deal with disagreements, but it’s a lot harder when there are bad feelings involved. I probably worry too much about people being mad at me.  Continue reading