Friday, December 30, 2011

Not Good for Men

As I'm being told for the hundredth time, "Why are you so emotional, why can't you be less emotional?" When I ask him why he doesn't show any emotion, he tells me that I show enough for both of us.   I decide to try an experiment. Since I want the husband to be more emotional (why can't he express any love toward me? Why can't he show sadness, or excitement, or even happiness when he watches the kids have fun? Anything except anger at me for always being the wrong type person--like now for being too emotional?) I am going to show as little emotion as possible for a year to see if me being less emotional will make him be more emotional.

For a year, I don't get excited, I don't get angry, I don't get sad--nothing.  Literally nothing; not from me or from him. My experiment failed, it didn't make him more emotional by me being less emotional. Why?

The roles people are assigned:

I have written a number of blogs about why the church is not good for women.  The church is also not good for men. The church has assigned women the role of being nurturers.  The women are assigned the role of loving and caring for the family and society.  They are given permission to be emotional; they are allowed to love, to care, to be sad, happy, to cry. I can play with my children, hold them, cuddle with them. I can laugh with the husband, hug him, and love him with my whole being.

The husband has been assigned the role of provider.  He is allowed to work, provide shelter and be an authority figure. By being assigned this role and denied the role of caretaker, he is not allowed to love or show emotion. Why? This would be beneath him. He is not allowed to partake in this role as a man.

This is how it is in a patriarchal hierarchy.  God/church is above man. Man is above women.  Man is to preside over women just as God/church presides over man. Man is to preside and lead and provide.  Women are to submit and nurture.  If men nurture, they are not fulfilling their role, as that role has been assigned to women. It is beneath them.  Men are just as much devalued in this system as women are.

Men are not given permission to emotionally attach to women.  They are not given permission to emotionally attach to their children.  They are not allowed to love, to cry, to care, to show compassion.

When the marriage was in utter chaos, I insisted he see a counselor. He chose a mormon counselor.  After the first session with him, the counselor asked to meet with me. He said, "You women send your men to me to fix them. What is it you want me to fix?" I told him right then that the marriage would end in divorce.  He didn't get it because he was raised in the very system that messed up the husband.  The husband was doing exactly what he was assigned to do, after all; he was providing and presiding. What more did I expect out of him?

I expected him to love me, to care for me, at have an emotional connection with me.  The counselor didn't get this because that was not his role to do those things. I was unhappy not being loved and cared for. I needed  these in the marriage.

Men are repressed. They, too can break out of the mold.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reality or delusion

I had someone tell me all the time, 'My perception is my reality'.  I can't even  begin to tell you how much I hate this; and on so many levels:
1. Perception does not change reality
2. Reality is fixed, accept it or live in your delusion, but don't try and make the rest of us think the two are the same
3. Perception for you does not change reality for me
4. You can live in your delusion, but don't for a minute think I will follow you there
5. I do not have to accept your perception as my reality
6. You can repeat this statement over and over and it still won't make it my reality
7. Telling me that your perception is my reality does not make it so
8. I used to believe that you living in your delusion didn't change reality. I now understand that your perception can indeed change how you perceive reality, thus it can change how you deal with events in your life and effect and even change your life.

In the book, Unbroken, three men are lost at sea in a raft. Terrible things happen to them.  From the start, two of the men optimistic, work for the good of the group, and maintain hope that they will be rescued.  The third man is pessimistic, looks out for his own good and eventually looses hope. Because of each man's perception, their reality is formed and fate is eventually set. The third man does not make it out alive.

Did the men's perception change reality? Not really. They were still lost at sea.  They still had terrible things happen to them.  The two men accepted their fate and thought and worked to survive it. Did their perception of reality help the two survive while leading to the one's death? I now have to admit that is a possibility. Yet, the one who was negative could not change the other two's perception that their situation was hopeless and that they should all give up.

I knew a married couple.  He had the perception that she should stay at home and not work and just take care of him. This was boring, unfulfilling for her and as hard as she tried, she could not accept his perception that this should make her happy and fulfilled.  He refused to engage her in any conversation about what would fulfill her or make her happy.  She eventually divorced him and found happiness and fulfillment.  His perceptions about what should be reality were vastly different than hers.  He could not bend her will to fit his.

Another person had the perception that they could manipulate the people around them to get what they wanted by bullying them, yelling at them, calling them names.  The people around them only became more stubborn in not giving in, began to alienate themselves from this person grew frustrated with this person.  This person's perception that they could get their way through making others accept their idea of reality didn't work for them.

Accepting reality for what it is and embracing it and adapting to it and learning to survive and cope and thrive....or live in denial, in hopelessness in despair, in pain.

I choose reality.  What do you choose?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not Good for Women ~ Part VI

The Blame Game
My house was recently broken into.  The sad part is that my daughter left for school that morning and forgot to lock the front door.  The teens had easy access, they just turned the handle and wahla, there goes my camera, the Wii, my computer and a few other things.

Who is to blame for this violation? My daughter for leaving the door unlocked or the teens for violating my rights to own and keep my property safe from intrusion?

What about a woman who is raped? Is she to blame? My other daughter participated in the Slut Walk this summer. The purpose of this is to bring awareness to what causes rape.  She carried a sign that said, "Sluts don't cause rape, rapists do".  The women who participated are hoping to change people's attitudes and bring awareness to this age-old problem, that it is the perpetrator and not the victim who is to blame.

I was raped many years ago.  I was taught that it was the woman's responsibility for the rape.  She either dressed provocatively, didn't protest loud enough or somehow enticed the guy. Here is a quote from the book, Miracle of Forgiveness, “Also far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation when there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”

-    Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, LDS Prophet, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 196

And this quote from David O. McKay,  “President David O. McKay has pleaded:
    Your virtue is worth more than your life. Please, young folk, preserve your virtue even if you lose your lives.” 

Or this:  “I know what my mother expects. I know what she’s saying in her prayers. She’d rather have me come home dead than unclean.”

-    Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1969, pp. 52-53 

Do I wish I were dead? How stupid is that to even ask. I love life, I love my life, I'm so happy to be alive.

I am over the rape. I am over blaming myself for it.
Men are responsible for their own thoughts; women are not responsible for what men think.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Not Good for Women ~ Part V

One Box Fits All
In 1987, president benson talked to the members of the mormon church and said these words:

    In the eternal family, God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide, to love, to teach, and to direct.
    But a mother's role is also God-ordained. Mothers are to conceive, to nourish, to love, and to train. So declare the revelations....
    opportunity and responsibility of wives is "to multiply and replenish the earth...and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds.
    Young mothers and fathers, with all my heart I counsel you not to postpone having your children....The Lord clearly defined the roles of mothers and fathers in providing for and rearing a righteous posterity....Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance.... This is the divine right of a wife and mother. She cares for and nourishes her children at home. Her husband earns the living for the family.... the counsel of the Church has always been for mothers to spend their full time in the home in rearing and caring for their children.
Has this dated, 1950's view of the family changed? Let's look at the counsel given in 2008: 
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness
and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

What if this one-size-fits-all-mold doesn't fit everyone? What about these scenarios:
1. A woman has the need, desire and drive to have a career
2. The family finances dictate two incomes
3. The father desires to stay home and the mother is capable of making more income
4. A woman, who has never had the opportunity to get married, desires to have a child
5. Gays
6. A couple, who are traumatized by divorced parents, desire to be in a relationship, but to not sign on the legal paperwork and make it legal (marriage)
7. A couple who does not desire children; who wants to postpone children until they are firmly established in a career or education or feel emotionally ready and prepared

Of course, these scenarios are out of the round holes the church insists everyone fit into, thus they do not allow any varying for those of us who are the square pegs. Here is a quote from the church's hand book for women who would desire a child, but are not married:

Artificial Insemination

The Church strongly discourages artificial insemination using semen from anyone but the husband. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.

Artificial insemination of single sisters is not approved. Single sisters who deliberately refuse to follow the counsel of Church leaders in this matter are subject to Church discipline

There is no varying, no flexibility, no kindness, no compassion for people who do not fit the mold the church has designed and said all people must fit into. Even when research shows there is more than one way, that it is good for women to work; they are not flexible and will not accommodate any other view.

There are some people within who are able to be cafeteria mormons (they can pick and choose those doctrines they want to conform to and follow, much like a person would pick and choose what to eat in a buffet line).  They are the ones who seem to be able to look at these things say, 'eh, whatever; I'm going to church and doing my own thing.' Then there are people like me who are all in or all out.  We aren't black and white thinkers, but we are very ethical.  If we are going to live certain principles, we are going to do it all the way.  

We feel we are violating our own ethical codes; if we say we are going to follow an ethical code we will follow it, but we aren't only going to follow it when it suits us. We are the ones who have left the church because the church is not willing to accommodate our free thinking.

The box did not fit, so we broke out of the box.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not Good for Women ~ Part IV

Discrimination vs Equality
We can learn a lot from the civil rights movement. Any group of people who have money, power, or privileges withheld from them are being discriminated against. During the civil rights movement, many people tried to state that separate was the same as equal.  No, its not.

I hear women say all the time that they are just fine with not holding the priesthood and they don't have to have it to be considered equal with men.  That may be so, but just because they are not give the title of having priesthood authority, does not mean they are equal in all other ways.

Let's take money.  Do the women in the church receive the same and equal access to money that the men do?  Any budget I ever saw and worked with in the young women's organization never even came close to the young men's budget.  The boys scout's budget also superseded that of the teenage girl's.  The teen boys were also allowed to solicit for money.  If the teen girls were allowed to solicit, their abilities in this area were severely restricted. I was in many wards were they asked for money for the boys scouts directly over the pulpit, called each member of the ward for money (regardless of whether you had a son in the program or not) and they held several fun raisers throughout the year. The girls were allowed only one fundraiser for girls camp--that was all.

Let's take power.  The church tells people and especially the women that they are in charge of their own organizations (Relief Society, Young Women's and Primary for the children). The church calls these organizations- 'auxiliaries'.  By the churches own definition of an auxiliary, 'is not essential and not truly independent of male oversight, it only spells out that women are not to be trusted with any real authority themselves.'

Women must have a man present at their activities, must report their activities to male leadership, must have male approval for their activities and must get approval for any funding for them.  There is no such thing as female power.  Women who speak in general conference, primarily speak to the children, female youth, are given short speaking assignments, and rarely are given time on Sundays-- the highest watched times.

Let's take privileges.  Many years ago, I worked in the young women's program. We were trying to motivate the teen girls to read the book of mormon.  We came up with the idea to take all the girls who read it in a certain time period on a trip to Salt Lake to visit church history sites.  The girls were to have fund raisers to raise all the money by themselves, thus not being a financial burden on their families or the church.  We were denied our request by the bishop.  We appealed to the stake president.  We were denied again.  That same summer, the teen boys took a trip to Lagoon for fun and enjoyment.  Although they said it was for boys scouts, no merit badges were earned.  All the money for the trip came out of the ward budget.

Boys are allowed to go water skiing, camping, skiing, hiking,swimming, site seeing in other states, etc.  All these privileges are denied the girls.  All these privileges are put under the umbrella of boy scouts, yet few merit badges are earned on all these privileges and equal access for something similar is not granted to the teen girls.

Girls are required to learn to sew, learn how to cook, be a good mom and stay a virgin until married.

Does this meet the level of discrimination? Good thing the church isn't the government; they'd likely be sued.  Why do women tolerate such discrimination? Because they are told they are special.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not good for Women ~ Part III

Not Good Enough

Have you ever had someone in your life, that no matter how hard you tried, you were never good enough  for them?  You clean the kitchen, but they will find that one crumb you left behind.  You pay the bills, but they will notice that you didn't balance the last week's worth of bills.  You mow the lawn, but they point out you forgot to weed the flower bed. No matter how good you are, they will always point out the one thing you miss, the one error you made. You always feel like a failure around them.

This is how many people, including myself, always felt in the mormon church.  We felt like we could never measure up.  If we did our visiting teaching, we weren't doing it good enough because we waited till the last day to do it.  If we did our church calling, we didn't put enough time into it.  We didn't wear the right dress to church, we let our kids cry in church. We complained when our husbands were gone all day on Sunday instead of spending time with us. It was always something we were failing at. Square peg in a round hole.

How would it be, then to be a gay teenager in the mormon church?  To be told that the feelings you are having are wrong, sinful, going to keep you out of heaven?  Always trying to suppress, but never really being able to?

How would it be, to be molested by a priesthood holder and then be told by the bishop that you need to forgive him because he is the man-priesthood and not seek legal redress?  Always trying to suppress, but never really being able to?

How would it be, to feel you want to not have children or get married, but feeling the need to, because you are told that the only way to be happy is to have children and be married?  Always trying to suppress, buy never really being able to?

How would it be, to feel your only way out, is to commit suicide?
I don't think I can take any more of my friends trying to kill themselves because they are rejected, because they have been told their entire lives they are not good enough just the way they are.

Can we please just love each other the way we are?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not Good for Women ~ Part II

Control vs Self Determination

Do you trust yourself to decide what to eat in the morning for breakfast?
Do you trust yourself to decide what to wear to work each day?
Do you trust yourself to decide what career to choose for yourself and your future?
Do you trust yourself to make daily decisions that are as small as what time you are going to go to bed to as large as what house you are going to buy?

If you think you are capable to make these decisions, then why does the mormon church feel compelled to micromanage each woman's life? They determine weather she can have only one pair of earrings. They determine that she cannot have tattoos.  They determine that she cannot wear flip flops, pants or casual clothes to church. They determine how many hours she should attend church, what volunteer hours she will serve, in what capacity, how much money she will donate to that church.  They determine what underwear you will wear. Even when you're entire body is covered, they still have a say, and will tell you those clothes are too tight!

Are you a child? Why can't women make these decisions for themselves? Why do women need men to make all these decisions for them?  Women are told all the time that they are equal to men, that they don't need the priesthood to be considered equal to men.

Its been interesting watching all the women at BYU-I freak out because one man on a power trip put up a sign at the testing center banning women from taking tests at the testing center for a week, because he took it upon himself to interpret the honor code how he wanted; to ban skinny jeans. Who gave him the authority to ban skinny jeans? 

Why did he decide that all women on campus must now conform to what he decided was a moral way of dressing? Have any of these questions been asked? Why not? Why have none of the mormon women asked why one guy who is hired to run the testing center given the power to decide for all the women what they can buy, what they can wear, what is a moral way of dressing? Why is this not being asked? Any man with the priesthood has more determination over what a woman wears than she does. That is sad.

Because they are so used to being told what to think, how to dress, what is moral-- by men, that this very question, the essence of the root the problem; has not even been asked.

I can hardly wait for him to become a bishop! I can see the power trip already!

I want the women in the mormon religion who believe they are considered equal with men to accept a challenge. I want them to set their own standards of dress. I want them to stand up and say they will no longer have men set their standards of dress for them. Men will no longer say how tight their jeans will be, what underwear they will wear, how many pair of earrings they will have, what types of footwear they will wear to church.

Women, when you have the freedom to set your own standards of dress, then I will begin to believe that the male leadership regard you as equals.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not Good for Women ~ Part I

Perfection or Unhappiness?

I have said many times that the morg is just not good for women.  I am going to write posts and give specifics as to why I think this way.

Perfection.  Who knows anyone who is perfect? What is perfection?  One person's idea of ideal is different than another person's.  My idea of what is perfect is to spend the day with people who love me, we are laughing and talking. My idea of perfection is the ocean and the beach.

 It is 80 degrees outside, just enough shade to be comfortable.  The waves are lapping in. We can hear the waves and see whales in the distance. There are mountains in the background.  The blue of the water is so intense that the deep blue color of eyes don't even compare.

I can feel the sand between my toes. I squish my feet down into the sand as far as I can.  There is food; Italian, Mexican, hamburgers and french fries. I'm drinking Long Islands, Mai Tai's, and others I can't even name. We are laughing at something that my daughter said.  This moment is perfect. It can last forever and I will be in the essence of happiness. The moment is perfect, the people are not.

Does this fit everyone's idea of perfection? I doubt it; but I'm okay with that. The mormon's idea of perfect is not for perfect moments, but for perfect people. Their idea is for women to have babies for eternity and for men to have many wives and to never laugh too loud.  None of this sounds appealing to me at all. To live a perfect day and to be a perfect person is not the same thing, however. What does it mean to be a perfect person?

For the mormon woman,  it is to not commit any sin; to be married; to have lots of children; to conform to the churches rules-many, many rules; for the women to submit to their husband's decisions; to be the primary caretakers of the children; to attend all your church meetings; to hold a current temple recommend and all that entails; to be a visiting teacher and visit certain families each month and at the beginning of the month; to hold a church calling and do your very best in that calling; to not question any of the church leaders or doctrines.

If a mormon woman does not succeed in any of these areas, she is considered a failure.  It is not okay to acknowledge weakness or failure for a mormon woman.  When mormon women talk, they often criticize the organization and how demanding it is, but they rarely will admit how they feel like they are not meeting up to the expectations demanded of them or how trying to meet these expectations makes them unhappy. Instead, they put on a persona. They pretend they have a perfect marriage, perfect children. They pretend they love the church calling they are serving in, or love all the women they are visiting.  They pretend they are happy conforming and fitting in, even when they are not.  Only occasionally do you see the cracks. When they let down their barriers and show they are indeed human, they will quickly recover and hide again.

This often leads women to hide who they really are. After years of hiding, they lose the essence of who they really are. After years of serving others and putting their needs, wants and desires at the the expense of taking care of everyone else: the husband, the children, the church callings; they lose their own identity. They lose who they are. They don't know what they want in life anymore. They don't know what makes them happy. They don't know how to even allow others to serve them or love them.

They are taught that if they even consider themselves, they are being selfish.  This isn't selfish. This is life. It is okay and even necessary to love yourself; to consider yourself; to have a pedicure or manicure each month. It is okay to work and make money and even spend some of that money on yourself. Some men even like having the burden of making money shared. In this way, female children are taught that all things are equal.  Male children are taught that women are to be respected and are not door mats.  Everyone will be expected to help with the household chores.  It isn't the women's work, it is the families' work.

What I found is that by trying to be something that everyone is not: perfect; it only leads to fakeness, loneliness, unhappiness, isolation and a loss in identity.

No, Virginia, there is no such thing as perfect people.