22 April 2011

On LDS womanhood

Another crossover from the current version of S.P.A.M, with some minor edits. This was originally two posts, which I later combined.

A lot of what triggered this was a conversation I had with a Twitter/Blogger friend. She had mentioned on her blog the passing of author Helen Andelin, probably best known for her book "Fascinating Womanhood". I read this book ten years or more ago, and still get queasy over some of the advice.

Mrs. Andelin's basic premise was that a wife should adopt a "childlike" attitude toward her husband. Aside from having had a pedophile father (now deceased), which makes it very difficult for me to not be nauseated or fearful at the idea of behaving in a "childlike" manner toward a man with whom I am sexually intimate, I found that concept as explained in this book insulting to both sexes. To me, Mrs. Andelin's advice came across as dishonest and manipulative on the part of the wife, and suggested that she did not believe men were capable of valuing a competent adult as a partner. I apparently was not the only person responding to my friend's post on Mrs. Andelin's passing by expressing qualms about her writings, which led to my friend getting upset (apparently, she got some really hateful and foully worded commentary, much worse than anything I said) and accusing those who disliked FW of being feminists. After some e-mail back and forth, she did post a followup addressing my statement in e-mail that she was painting those of us who did dislike FW with too broad a brush (she did agree she had), and my comment on that second post is pasted below (with minor social chitchat excised):

"I do find being accused of being a feminist highly insulting. Aside from a few days a month of pain and mess, I like being female and am quite satisfied to trust God's wisdom in giving men and women different, equally necessary roles to play. When someone tries to label me a feminist, what I hear is that I'm in rebellion against God's plan for His children, and that is about the last thing I ever want to be.

I do not believe that those different roles automatically place women in an inferior role to men and am disgusted by the anger toward men and toward God displayed by current feminism.
[snip paragraph not really relevant to this post]
As an LDS woman who grew up with a "Ms."-reading mother and converted in adulthood, I am quite satisfied with the present order of things in the Church. I don't WANT the priesthood! Why should I? I get all the blessings of having the priesthood on the earth, I don't have the obligations associated with holding it, and I get my own quite wonderful role in life (granted, I'm not a bio mother, but do affectionate aunt/teacher to the best of my ability). Seems to me that we LDS women get the best of the deal. :)"

As a daughter of my Heavenly Father, I know He granted me intellect and judgement to be used to handle my sphere as homemaker and mother (I don't have children of my own, but gladly help with others'), and to be counselor, partner, companion, and helpmeet to my husband, standing as his equal while deferring to his priesthood authority when it's needful. I was also granted those gifts to be used to serve in the Church and my community and to help build the Kingdom. I find it difficult to believe that a righteous, intelligent man would wish for his wife to behave in a "childlike" manner, becoming a helpless dependent, rather than functioning as a competent adult, capable of raising children, meeting crises, and supporting her husband in his role. I firmly believe that a healthy marriage is between equals, based on honesty rather than manipulation.

My husband has told me repeatedly that he very much agrees with my take on this matter, and assures me he needs and values that equal, capable partner. Believe me, I do not feel oppressed in my marriage or in the Church.

As stated above, I do not feel any need to have the priesthood. I do not wish to have that extra burden, since it wouldn't gain me anything. I have everything I need as a result of the priesthood having been restored on the earth, plus having my own blessings and role. I'll let the men have the priesthood, I think I have the better part. :)

(Note: later edit added a link to a blog post referenced in my remarks)

(Note: the following was originally posted separately, I decided to edit and merge.)

This subject just keeps coming up, doesn't it? :)

Another Web forum with one rather vocal poster (stating herself to be active LDS) doing the standard "different roles are automatically unequal" routine, and claiming that either God loves His daughters less than His sons by giving men the priesthood and women motherhood or the leaders of the Church (male, of course) don't want to share authority with women because they think we're lesser than they are.


One basic question I think someone that agitated by the structure of the Church needs to ask herself is whether she honestly believes that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ and that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are prophets, seers, and revelators or not. If not, don't know what to say (except to maybe ask why one identifies with a church one doesn't believe some very fundamental parts of). If she does, does she believe that these men are going to run the Lord's Church in accordance with His will? If not, well, see previous such answer. If she does, then how does one claim to be a believing Church member while holding mortal "wisdom" and the philosophies of the world to be of higher value and more binding on the Church than the Lord's infinite knowledge and wisdom of the structure of eternity and what our capacity is at this point?

Another thing that occurs to me is, if women do obtain the priesthood, doesn't that leave men rather unneeded (except to supply sperm, to be blunt)? As it stands now, women have motherhood, men have priesthood to care for their families. Each sex is needed for a healthy family configuration. If women take on both roles, what's left for men?

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