Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Womanhood, motherhood, feminism, priorities, and roles

My friend, Becca, at My Soul Delighteth, made some profound statements on Facebook the other day concerning the divinity of womanhood, feminism, and the opposition we face in mortality, particularly in regards to women who want to be married, but aren't, and those who want children, but can't.  She also shared some thoughts she's had about respect toward working moms. She said it was ok if I wrote a post about it because she didn't have time to. I won't really expound on what she said, I just wanted to save it for future reference.

On womanhood & motherhood:
I believe that the divinity of womanhood is expressly linked to motherhood. . . . 
For a little while, in the past year or so, I started getting a little sympathetic towards Mormon feminists. Not, "They are right" but "I don't understand them, and I want to understand them" sympathetic. I started talking to a lot of different people with different ideas, etc, and I found myself slowly starting to wonder if motherhood really was the definition of womanhood. 2-3 years ago I would have said "Asbolutely", a year ago I would have said, "I'm not 100% sure", but now I am back to "Absolutely."
I was called to be an assistant primary chorister back in April, and the song they are learning this year is called The Family is of God, and at first I was unsure of the words (they basically say the same thing as the Proclamation") but as I have taught those words to the primary I have gained a sure testimony that they are true. Absolutely true. The Proclamation to the World is true. Every word of it. Every single word. I don't think that it was written erroneously, I don't think that it matters that it was written entirely by men - because I don't believe that it was written by "men" - it was written by prophets of God who receive revelation for our day.

On why we can't always have it the way we want it:
I also believe that this life is imperfect, our bodies are imperfect, and life just sucks sometimes. That is the way this mortal probation is meant to be.
When Adam and Eve were in the garden, Heavenly Father gave them two commandments that seemed to be conflicting - multiply and replenish the earth, but don't eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I feel like He gives us similar commandments today (what? You mean God is the same yesterday, today, and forever?!). The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is still in full force, but we must, as Adam and Eve, in a way partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and live a corrupted mortal existence. Basically God is commanding us to do something that WE HAVE NO POWER TO GUARANTEE. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to have children, yet to bear children IS a commandment. And I think that God doesn't withhold marriage and offspring [as a punishment?] from His children. That would be nonsense. Rather, the condition of our mortality at times prevents us from doing what God wants us to do.
Those who ARE able to multiply and replenish the earth should not feel that they are somehow better, or more blessed than those who cannot. We are blessed in different ways.

On working moms, feminism, family priorities, and roles:
I have done both the SAHM thing and the workplace thing, and I have to say I feel like people respect me 100 times more as a working mom than they did as a SAHM. I don't care one whit what other people think of me, so my point isn't to point out how hurt I was (because I wasn't - I honestly didn't care. I do what I feel is right for my family and no one besides me and my husband and maybe my bishop and parents - at times - could possibly have any insight into what is right for MY family) but my point IS to show that SAHMs DO seem to be less respected. [I thought this was really interesting to hear Becca say this as she's lived both the SAHM life and the working mom life. Personally, as a SAHM, I don't think I'm in too many situations to be able to notice any lack of respect, but I find her dual-perspective fascinating.]

I have not felt that feminism says "equality of opportunity" but rather says "women who put children above education and career goals have their priorities screwed up and are damaging opportunities for women everywhere". As a math teacher I definitely feel that. We are no longer pressuring our daughters to grow up to be good mothers, we are pressuring them to grow up and go to school for 6-7 years to chase the corporate ladder, or to work long hours as an engineer, or otherwise chase goals and dreams OUTSIDE the home. And those goals are fine. As long as they come second to raising children (for MEN as well as women - my husband is a fantastic provider, but his #1 career goal is to be able to provide for his family without having to spend a lot of TIME away from his family - something I admire very much in him).
I want to encourage my daughters to get an education - my parents encouraged both me and my sister. I have a degree in math and physics and I am working on a Masters of Education, with a goal to pursue a PhD in education. My sister has a degree in clinical lab science and has plans to go back to school to become a pathologist.

HOWEVER, for BOTH of us, our #1 priority is having babies and raising them. The education and career paths we want to pursue come SECOND.

Which means our earning potential will never be as great as a man who's #1 priority is probably providing for a family. But that's okay, because neither of us have "providing for a family" as a priority. I'm cool with that.

I am NOT cool with a woman who does as much (or more) work as(than) a man having less earning potential or respect or advancement opportunity simply because she is a woman. I believe that is absolutely ridiculous. . . . And I don't agree with it, and it's absolutely abhorrent.
While I do believe that bearing and raising children should be a woman's (and a man's) #1 priority in life, I DO believe that women who don't have that opportunity should not be punished by our society for it.
Thanks Becca for your "guest post." Ha.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Godly Parenting Advice

I've been meaning to write this down for over a week now, and it's taking getting a baby sitter to be able to do it. How ironic is that? I need a babysitter so I can write something about parenting?

1. My husband and I have started attending the Gospel Principles class in our ward.  The lesson a couple Sundays ago was on the nature of our Heavenly Father.   I was impressed when the teacher brought up God's response to Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit.  God didn't yell at them and immediately kick them out of the garden for making a mistake, but he asked them what they'd done and why.  It struck me that when my kids make mistakes, rather than losing it with them, I should stay calm, ask them what's happened, to get the full picture of the situation, then give the consequence.  I loved it. That's some of the best parenting advice I've ever gotten from the scriptures.

2. I wish I'd written it down, but I heard (or read probably on Facebook) recently somewhere that when a child is put in time out, the reaction in the brain is the same as when the child is spanked, so really, I guess it doesn't matter how you punish because the child will feel the same isolation.  This reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Gina.  She said that when her little girl acts up, rather than having a "time out," they have a "time in," where they talk about what happened and try to figure out what went wrong.  I bet with a "time in" the child doesn't experience that same negative brain activity as he or she would because of a spank or a time out.  More good advice, and it also parallels Heavenly Father's questioning reaction to Adam and Eve.

3.  As I've been studying about domestic violence for a post I'm preparing to write, I came across this wonderful advice from Joseph F. Smith in 1939 from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual:

… If you will keep your boys close to your heart, within the clasp of your arms; if you will make them to feel that you love them, that you are their parents, that they are your children, and keep them near to you, they will not go very far from you, and they will not commit any very great sin. But it is when you turn them out of the home, turn them out of your affection—out into the darkness of the night into the society of the depraved or degraded; it is when they become tiresome to you, or you are tired of their innocent noise and prattle at home, and you say, “Go off somewhere else,” it is this sort of treatment of your children that drives them from you.

You can’t force your boys, nor your girls into heaven. You may force them to hell, by using harsh means in the efforts to make them good, when you yourselves are not as good as you should be. The man that will be angry at his boy, and try to correct him while he is in anger, is in the greatest fault; he is more to be pitied and more to be condemned than the child who has done wrong. You can only correct your children by love, in kindness, by love unfeigned, by persuasion, and reason.
Fathers, if you wish your children to be taught in the principles of the gospel, if you wish them to love the truth and understand it, if you wish them to be obedient to and united with you, love them! and prove to them that you do love them by your every word or act to them. For your own sake, for the love that should exist between you and your boys—however wayward they might be, or one or the other might be, when you speak or talk to them, do it not in anger, do it not harshly, in a condemning spirit. Speak to them kindly; get them down and weep with them if necessary and get them to shed tears with you if possible. Soften their hearts; get them to feel tenderly toward you. Use no lash and no violence, but … approach them with reason, with persuasion and love unfeigned.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What would happen if we really respected people?

The other day I was talking to a friend about domestic violence.  We were discussing men and how they talk about the women in their lives when the women are not around.  If men speak negatively of the women in their lives, that's a huge indicator of a man's behavior toward her when she is around.  My friend suggested we could use more lessons in church on relationships and how to treat people, and it doesn't really matter if it's marriage relationships or friend relationships, we just need to know what are healthy interactions and what are not.

I began to wonder, what if we did really did treat people the way we should?  What if we didn't put ourselves and our selfish desires first, what would happen?  What if we actually did unto others as we would have others do unto us?  Well, for one, men wouldn't beat their wives.  They'd respect them and listen to them and be a partner.  People wouldn't abuse children.  Enron wouldn't have happened.  The housing crisis wouldn't have happened.  Perhaps even Ordain Women wouldn't have happened because women would feel represented and listened to?  Maybe.

I guess this isn't a very coherent post, but these two quotes came to mind:

"One of the most radical things you can do is believe women when they talk about their experiences."-Jen Bekman
"The Mormon people teach the American religion; their principles teach the people not only of Heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this Church, nothing can stop their progress — it will be limitless. There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known.’”-Leo Tolstoy
So what do Mormons teach?  They teach the ways of Christ which are anything but violent.  They teach integrity and forgiveness.  They teach mercy and kindness and. . . .  I think we learn these things, but we fail when we don't put them to practice (which is why we need a Savior).  I still keep thinking that one of Heavenly Father's goals must be to have all his children get along.  When we do live His commandments and live like Christ, we will get along and won't have to deal with all the junk that happens.  I guess actually living the way they should is what happened in the city of Enoch.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Little Bit of Hope in the World

Diane, Dawn, Me, Jan, Kembe
So it's slightly weird to me, too, that I'd go to a premier of a movie and a prescreening of a different movie within the same week! That just hasn't been my thing in life.  Today I was invited via Mormon Women Stand to see Meet the Mormons.

Let me be honest, I wasn't super excited about Meet the Mormons because why would I need to meet any more?  I also was indeed surprised that the LDS Church was going to release a film in theaters.  By the way, this particular movie was originally created to be shown in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, but had such positive reviews at other prescreenings, that they decided to take it to THE big screen, not just one big screen.

If you are a Latter-day Saint you will enjoy the film and might even cry.  If you are not a Latter-day Saint and are curious about Mormons and what they're really like, this will give you a feel for what they are trying to accomplish in life.  If you don't like Mormons and don't want to know anything about them, but for some weird reason see the movie anyway, if you take the Mormon element out of the film, you are left with stories of humanity where people are trying to better their own lives and the lives of people around them.  You realize there is goodness left in the world.  Some people are drawn to that goodness, and the people in this film happen to be tied together after the pattern of Christ because of their religion.  No matter your feelings about Mormons, you won't go away from the film feeling yucky.

Now, because this was a prescreening, those of us there had some little perks.  For one, I got to meet and sit by Kembe Sullivan from Atlanta who is the wife of the bishop in the movie.  During the question and answer period after the film, we learned that she was born in Kenya, lived in South Africa, immigrated to California, and now lives in Georgia.  Her cute kids are now 10, 8, and 4, I think, which is really close in age to my kids!  Someone asked if there were any "I wishes" after the filming. Kembe said she wished she wouldn't have sounded so whiney getting the kids ready for church. At the time of filming she said she was working at a "brick and mortar" school, so her husband actually got the kids ready for the day most of the time, so I guess she didn't feel justified complaining when she only had to do it one day a week.  Either way, though, for whomever gets the kids ready, it is hard work!  Another funny thing Kembe shared was that her husband asked the public affairs person in their ward to find someone to be interviewed for the documentary.  She tried, but returned to him without luck and asked, "why don't you do it?" and he said ok.

I was also able to meet Dawn Armstrong, "The Missionary Mom" from Utah.  Again, I have to be honest: I knew her story was last, so it had to be good, but I seriously wondered how the story of a mom from Utah could warrant the finale of the film?  I don't know how much I want to spoil it, but her story did not disappoint.  She has overcome really hard things, but because of good choices, she is in a great spot now.  She's had eight children, and her oldest son, now returned from his mission, encouraged their family to participate in this project.  I don't think Dawn thinks she has such a powerful story, so it's wonderful that her son pushed for it.  She said she only wishes that there could have been more of an introduction to her family in the film.

The story of the football coach was great, as was the boxer, and the humanitarian, but I have to say always one of my favorites is that of Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber.  I cried through most all of his.  Maybe it's black and white pictures that make me cry.  We'll blame it on that.  I just love how he gave so many people hope in such a dreadful time of history.  I think I also get emotional because he came in 2012 to the Christmas Concert at Temple Square where they shared his story and dropped candy parachutes from the Conference Center ceiling and it was magical.

I was impressed with the spread of women bloggers represented at this prescreening.  There were women from Feminist Mormon Housewives, Exponent II, WAVE, Juvenile Instructor, The Small Seed, Holly on the Hill, LDS Women, LDS Women of God, Sistas in Zion, Mormon Women Stand, and others who I can't remember.  I admit, because we wore name tags with which blogs we represented, I was less likely to talk to some of the others in the beginning, but afterward, when feelings were so good, I think the tone had changed, or maybe it was just my attitude.  I think we realized we're here to spread Christ's goodness, and not to argue with one another, and maybe that was Public Affair's intent of inviting us.

I've always wanted to meet a Sista!  Wow I'm pale!

Q&A with Jessica Moody, Kembe, and Dawn

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Heart of the Matter Movie Premier

Tonight I was able to go to the premier of The Heart of the Matter, a non-denominational Christian documentary that brings HOPE to the pornography problem. It was so well done and leaves you with this wonderful feeling of reliance on Christ.

Obviously, because most people will feel dumb going to a theater to watch a film about overcoming pornography, it will not be released in theaters, but will be available October 1 at  You can also buy the DVD with additional footage. The producers will additioally be working with churches and recovery groups to license the film for use.

The goal of the film is to get people talking about the pornography problem because once it's out in the light, that's when people can start to heal.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Statistically Speaking: Differences Between Males and Females

The other night my husband and I got to go to a funny stake fireside with "relationship coach" Matt Townsend. I learned some new things about communication, but I specifically wanted to share and ultimately save some of what he said were differences, statistically speaking, between men and women.

  • Women communicate to bond and build rapport
  • Men communicate to convey information (share data) and report (my husband leaned over and asked if that's why so many men were software engineers, which he is)
  • Women talk to create feelings and create bonding
  • Men "act" to create bonding (Townsend felt that perhaps men hold the priesthood to "act" in God's name because of this trait: it creates bonding; if they just talk, it won't work.  This concept would be a very interesting discussion to continue.
  • Because fathers tend to "rough house" kids more than moms do, it gets kids' emotions really high, then they settle; this leads to their ability to better stabilize their emotions as adults; they're finding adults raised without fathers have a more difficult time controlling their emotions
  • When men speak, only one side of the brain is used, the side that conveys data
  • When women speak, both sides of the brain are used, the data side AND the emotion side
  • When a little girl is about to do something naughty, she looks to her caregiver first, almost asking permission before she does it
  • When a little boy is about to do something naughty, he just does it
  • Men tend to look at life through a hierarchy; they don't like to communicate anything that may decrease their sense of hierarchy (that actually explains a lot)
  • Little boys and little girls are 98% the same (or was it 98.5%?)
  • Men's brains are 11% bigger than women's (so are men on average 11% bigger than women?), but men and women have the same amount of activity in their brains
  • Women's brains do shrink during pregnancy, but return to their normal size after
He also talked a bit about the Mind, Body, Spirit connection and how we need to be aware of what is driving us. Is it our mind that creates shame, competition, body image problems..., our body that makes us hungry or tired..., or our spirit influencing us to act and feel certain ways?  I thought it was an interesting concept.  It seemed that Townsend suggested our mind drives us to some negative feelings, but our Spirit led us to more positive feelings and actions. I question, though, can't our mind lead us to compassion and other good traits, or would that always be the spirit and our light of Christ?  Would that fall into spirit? 

Monday, September 15, 2014

LDS Abuse Survivor Support Group (LASS)

A friend of mine asked me to share about an online support community for victims of domestic violence/abuse (not a site about church abuse as you could mistakenly assume from the name). Before I had kids, I was a Visiting Teacher to a gal in an abusive relationship. I had no idea what was going on until she ran away from home with her baby. Before that, I honestly thought society had progressed enough that there was no longer domestic violence against women. Obviously I was too optimistic in that assumption.

Quoting from my friend, the group is "LDS Abuse Survivor Support (LASS), for victims of domestic abuse of all kinds. All of the contributors are anonymous because of the nature of the site and that makes it difficult to publicize. Part of the need for publicity is also to emphasize that this is a site about members who have been abused, NOT a site about church abuse. We are faithful women trying to solve the issues of abuse in our lives while retaining our faith in the Savior and his gospel.
"There are women you know right now who need this site, you probably would never suspect their need, but it is there and desperate. Please help me help our sisters in need. . . ." 
"It is my intention that this site be a long standing place of refuge, understanding, and support for women who need it, that it will be there when they search for it. . . . I also hope that by reaching more people with the site and its messages that we will inform the public about domestic violence so that they can provide good and healthy support when someone goes to them in need, including educating priesthood leaders."

Please share.