Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why You Should Be There

I have been watching this blog post Why I Won't Be There go around the internet and facebook for the last several weeks and have largely ignored it until I can't anymore. As I think on it, I have to wonder, why do women like her not get it? As I lay awake this morning thinking of this, I thought of Rosa Parks. As she worked a very long and hard day and had very tired and sore feet and she got on that bus at the end of that day, all she wanted was to sit down and ride the bus home. She had no intention of starting a Civil Rights Movement.

She just wanted to rest. For all her hard work at her job, she got kicked off the bus that day. What would have happened if other black people did not come to her aid? What would have happened if other black people said, "that is her fight, I will not protest with her." What would have happened if Martin Luther King did not see the importance of what she did and chose instead to not take up her cause? Where would the civil rights movement be today?

Why would Miss Lemony and women like her hold all women down? Why can these women not see the that they are their own worst enemy? I have repeatedly said that any group that does not have equal access to privilege, power and money are not equal. The women within the mormon church are not equal with men. Let's look at each one of her points and show her and women like her how completely unequal they really are:

1.  The priesthood is something we can all exercise. I use the priesthood all the time when I ask my husband for a blessing

Is she really saying this? How can she possibly believe she is exercising the priesthood when she is asking for something from somebody else?  When I am at work and I ask my boss for a raise, do I have the same authority as my boss does? No. Can I give myself a raise? No. This is the silliest thing I've heard. A woman cannot give herself a blessing. She cannot even give her children a blessing. She has no more authority to give others a blessing as she has no authority to give herself a raise at work. Faith is not the same thing as authority, Miss Lemony. When women do not have access to power, they are not equal.

2. But as a woman, it’s not my gender role to be given the priesthood in the same way that a man is. It’s not sexist...

Yes, Miss Lemony, it is sexist, that is exactly what this is. Have you been out into the real world lately?  Most of the real world ordains women to the priesthood in other religions, and guess what? Those churches have not come crashing down in chaos. They run smoothly and orderly. The males in the congregations are not emasculated. In the real world, women are accountants, doctors, engineers, and men are nurses and teachers. Men are stay at home caregivers and daycare workers. There are no such thing as gender roles, Miss Lemony. In the real world, where you work, people just work, they are  not divided  up according to gender, but what job they are suited for. When women do not have access to privilege, they are not equal.

3.  parts of the women’s rights movement is moving past the “equal” mark and taking it to the “We’re even better than men” 

You make this statement as though it is fact yet give no data to prove your point. I would like data on this. You then go on to give an anecdotal story you heard in the news about some parents that would not disclose the gender of their child (again, you don't even link us to the article) is this part of the women's rights movement? This is a strawman argument, you have moved beyond discussing feminism into discussing one incident of a family protecting the privacy of their child. The two issues aren't related. Also, if this child was a male, is this part of the feminist movement? How is one parent's right to protect their privacy have anything to do with feminism? You have missed the mark on this one.

4. Being a woman is a blessing. It is a gender that is inherently gentle and nurturing.

 I don't think we are wishing we were men, or denying that being a woman is anything less that wonderful. There seems to be some confusion between sex differences and gender differences.  From the AMA manual, “gender vs sex: gender refers to the psychological/societal aspects of being male or female, sex specifically to the physical aspects. Do not interchange.”  sex is not gender
The term “gender” refers to culture and should be used when referring to men and women as social groups, as in this example from the Publication Manual: “sexual orientation rather than gender accounted for most of the variance in the results; most gay men and lesbians were for it, most heterosexual men and women were against it” (APA, 2001, p. 63).
The term “sex” refers to biology and should be used when biological distinctions are emphasized, for example, “sex differences in hormone production.”  "Gender is not sex. If god determines sex at birth, or better yet, in the pre-earth life, then what about intersex people, also known as hermaphrodites?  Intersex can be found in the human population as well as in the animal kingdom."
I've already done extensive research about gender being on a spectrum on my blog post here:  research on homosexuality  Women CAN be gentle and nurturing, not all women are this way. Many men are this way, also. Being gentle and nurturing is a character trait, not a gender trait. Would you, as a married woman, who desires children some day, want a husband who is not gentle and nurturing? Did you marry a man who is not this way? When I date, this is one of the qualities I look for in a man. Do you want men working in primary, scouts, young mens or even assigned as bishops who are not gentle and nurturing? This is not exclusive to women. This is a human and even an animal characteristic. How many times have you seen pictures posted on Facebook of animals being gentle and nurturing to their offspring? Do you really want these traits to be exclusive only to women?  I don't.
5. "Femininity is something to be proud of, and I am proud to say that my Heavenly Father has endowed me with gifts that my husband doesn’t have, and has endowed my husband with gifts that I don’t have. But all those gifts benefit both of us."
Yes, your husband has talents you don't have, and you have talents he doesn't have. Welcome to the human race. We are all unique.  This doesn't mean we must fit into a mold called gender, it means we all have strengths and weaknesses. We aren't all that different, males and females, we are very similar to each other. This is why women can do math and men can nurture. Men and Women similar  We should not be excluded from the world of finance, from making decisions over money in our homes, in the church, in businesses. If we are excluded from money matters, we are not equal.
6. "But when it comes to the world professing that gender isn't a factor anymore, even if it means changing doctrine or naming baby girls gender-neutral names all for the sake of “making her equal to men”–I take a step back.
Really? Why are these things defining for you? Why is ordaining women defining for you? Why do you get to decide for all parents how they get to choose the names of their babies?Have you read this article: I feel unequal when  or this article  If gender roles were reversed  Do you really understand the issues at hand? You say you don't have children yet. Do you know how it feels to carry a child for 9 months, to have medical problems, to finally deliver that child, to name that child, only to turn that child over to men, some not even related to the child; to hold that child and bless that child? Do you know how it feels to be a part of every part of that child's birth and then to not be any part of its blessing? What is so wrong with my desire to hold that child when it is blessed? Or to bless that child?
What is so wrong to desire to give a healing blessing to my children? To give them a blessing as they go back to school? Or to have the Relief Society have complete autonomy over its callings or finances? Do women like you really think we are asking too much? 
Miss Lemony, I'm a woman, and I'm proud of it. I also desire equality for myself and all women. Just as Rosa Parks could not fight for Civil Right on her own, we are all needed to fight for Women's Rights together.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lives of Mediocrity?

I have friends who have left the mormon church who stay up on all things mormon. I'm glad they do, since I have no desire to. Because of their diligence, I actually read an Ensign article this month. President Monson is the one given credit for this piece that makes people like me cringe.


I would like to tell my mormon family and friends why this article and ones like it make me and others who have left the mormon church cringe.

1. A quote from the Ensign article, "the need to rescue our brothers and sisters who have, for one reason or another, strayed from the path of Church activity 

Mr. Monson then goes on to ask what mormon member's responsibility is to *rescue* us. First, the mormon church believes very strongly in free agency, and as such, those us who have used our free agency to leave the mormon church do not want our agency infringed upon by having people attempt to force or influence us back into an organization we no longer wish to be a part of. We left of our own free will. We studied our way out, we anguished our way out. Please do not minimize our agency or our choice by thinking you can pray us back in, or love bomb us back in.

2. "There are, of course, others who need rescue. Some struggle with sin while others wander in fear or apathy or ignorance. "

 I can assure my mormon family and friends that this is false. Profoundly false. We do not struggle with sin. We have completely redefined our world so we no longer define our world the same way you do. The definition of sin is this, 'A wilful violation of a religious principle'  dictionary  We no longer believe in the same religious principles that you do. Where we once believed that drinking coffee was a sin, we no longer do. Where we once believed that taking our garments off was a sin, we no longer do. We are not sinning, we have just stopped believing in the same religious principles that you do.

Just as we do not believe in the Hindu religion, and therefore we do not believe it a violation to eat beef, we do not believe in the mormon religion and we therefore do not believe it a violation to  drink coffee, tea or alcohol. Just as we do not believe in the Muslin religion, and therefore we do not believe it a violation to cover our hair, we do not believe it a violation to wear tank tops, bikinis, or shorts.

Although we understand that you believe there is only one true church, we no longer believe this. We understand you see us as lost and wandering in fear, apathy or ignorance, but we do not see ourselves as this. What we see is that we have opened our minds to new paths, new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing the world. We see now that we were rigid in our understanding and beliefs and we are now free to choose new paths and views and read things that were closed to us before. We feel a sense of freedom that we didn't feel before. We understand now how chained and closed off our minds were.

3. Mr. Monson then quotes a letter from a man who desires to come back to church. Why does Mr. Monson make the assumption that all people who leave are exactly like this man? One anecdotal experience does not translate to all of us. We are not reaching out to the church, to church leaders, or to our family. We want to be left alone. We have made this perfectly clear. We do NOT want to be called to repentance, we do NOT want to be love bombed, we do NOT want conference talks mailed to us, emailed to us or posted to facebook. We do NOT want the missionaries sent to our door or to us on facebook. We want our agency respected.

4. Mr. Monson then makes an analogy between those of us who have willingly left the church and a picture of a man in a boat trying to get back to his family on shore. First of all, we are not lost, we chose to leave a controlling institution that we do not believe in. If we are at sea, this is modern times where we have modern navigational tools at our disposal, including GPS, compasses, radar, sonar and a good captain would plot out his trip and know what kind of weather he may run into. In fact, there are so many modern navigational tools available to boat captains, that most light houses are not used anymore. We have NOT left our families and we do NOT love them less. Please stop implying that our families are left behind. We left the church, not our loved ones.

5. "The less active can’t long rest content with mediocrity once they see that excellence is within their reach."

 Really? Those of us who have left are living lives of mediocrity? Is that really what you think of us? We are mediocre and you are excellent? This attitude of superiority is a big part of why we you not see that? You view yourselves as superior to everyone else in the world. Why would anyone really be drawn to you and your church when you look down on everyone who isn't a part of you. Do you really not get it? You sit on your Rameumptom and preach how great you are, and don't understand you are not better than us or the rest of the world. Get over yourselves.

Please understand that there is no one right path. The path we have freely chosen is where we are happy, where we choose to be, where we are free to be us.

 Do not put any more barriers between you and us by attempting to rescue us, seeing us as sinners, frail, weak, lost, mediocre, apathetic, full of fear, or ignorant.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Letter to fMh

A Letter to fMh

Dear fMh,

I have been following your public stand to fight for equality within the Mormon church over the last few years. I applaud you and your efforts. I support the, 'Wear Pants to Church' day; the 'Let Women Pray in Conference' and the 'Ordain Women'.  While I was still a member, these are all causes I believed in and these are all causes I believe women within the church should have in order to be considered equal partakers with the men.

Each week, I would get together with my Mormon girlfriends and we would talk about these things. We would talk about polygamy and how it bothered us that we were told that we would accept it once we were in the Celestial Kingdom. We would talk about our Mother in Heaven and how we knew nothing about her and felt shamed in church by wanting to have her as an equal part in the discussions with Heavenly Father. We would talk about how we wanted to hold our babies when they were blessed. We would talk about how we wanted the last say over callings in Relief Society or Young Women's or Primary, rather than the men dictating all that to us. We would talk about how we wanted a say over our budgets, and so much more. Yet, every Sunday when we walked across the threshold of the church, our discussions would come to a halt because we knew our voices would not be heard and that complete obedience and compliance was expected.

My crisis of faith became so intense, I began to drag my family around to every ward in the area, thinking that the issues I was having was just within the wards and if I found the right ward, I would be content. After several months of this, I realized how large my crisis of faith really was and I announced to my family that I wanted to attend another Christian faith. My very faithful and patriarchy husband announced that he would not follow me there.

As my crisis grew I talked with the area president and thought he understood, but then my husband talked with him and then a meeting was called with my husband, the bishop, the stake president and the area president all in attendance. I was told that I would be able to tell them about my crisis of faith. As I began, the area president cut me off, told me that this was serving nobody and that all I needed to do was submit to the bishop and my husband.

I was shocked, I just looked at him and said, 'No.' I got up and left the room. This was the beginning of the end for me. I walked away from the church, no longer wanting to be affiliated with a misogynistic organization. I knew the consequences would be great. My marriage dissolved in divorce. My Mormon friends no longer associate with me. My relationship with my extended Mormon family is strained. Yet, I feel a sense of freedom that I could not have anticipated. As a woman, I have discovered that the world does not treat me as a child that cannot make decisions on my own about finances, who I can have as my friends, my own sexuality, what I can and cannot drink, who can be my friends.

I have learned to grow up and make my own decisions and be my own boss. I no longer report to men about my sexual habits, my finances, my church attendance, or what I choose to put in my body.  I learned that it is not their business and I am free to choose for myself and therefore I also own the consequences and I do not report to anyone except myself. This is true freedom and happiness.

I have learned that the church didn't care about my whining, either. Just like the male patriarchy felt they had a right to surround me with four men in suits in my own home and minimize me by telling me my thoughts and feelings didn't matter, the only thing that mattered was submitting to their will, the church patriarchy doesn't care about your causes, either, feminist Mormon housewives. The church is ran by males in power who surround themselves with YES men. They are in charge of billions of dollars. Why would they listen to some women who want change? They have all the power and money and they see no reason to change. You can form all the petitions you want, have all the protests you want, and the church may throw you a bone every once in awhile, like having one while woman pray in one general conference every six months, but real change won't happen. Why?

Because the leadership must be motivated to change. What would motivate them? Only two things:
1. Money
2. Attendance

As long as the women in the church put together their petitions, no real change will happen. Why? Because the women in the church continue to pay tithing and tithing is the backbone that makes the church run. Without the money coming in, the church cannot build its church buildings, its temples, or its City Creek Malls.

As long as the women in the church continue to attend church each week and serve in their callings, the church isn't going to listen to a word you have to say. Why? Because the women in the church are the backbone of making sure the church runs day-to-day. Without the women serving in their callings, no ward would ever have a meal served at an activity, no funeral would ever get food, no bread would ever show up to sacrament meeting, no music would get sung, the Primary would come to a halt, the young women would not get taught, Sunday school would be harmed and there would be no Relief Society. Without you, women, the church could not function. Each ward also get money based on attendance, and if women didn't show up, each ward's budget would be harmed.

Do you want to make an impact, women? Go on strike. For one month, do not pay tithing, do not show up to church, do not fulfill your church callings. Send your children with your husbands.  Let your husbands deal with the unruly children during sacrament. Let the men pick up the load in young women and Sunday school. Let the men scrounge around for bread when it doesn't show up for sacrament.

Strike, women.  If you really want to affect change, STRIKE.