why I like my family, and why my first son might be named Quentin.

I come from (and am fiercely proud and loyal to,) a typical Utah Mormon family. My Mom's family being particularly "Mormonesque." For instance, I am the oldest of 37* grandchildren. Many of my aunts and uncles live within a 2 miles of each other. We visit my grandparents nearly every week. I do not go a day without seeing a member of my extended family, or at least talking to them on the phone.

Members of my family tend to be proud of the following things:

Their pioneer ancestry

Devotion to the Republican Party

Mitt Romney.

I know they don't agree with me concerning most of the things I write on my blog, especially the stuff about the Gays. And the swearing. (But J. Golden Kimball swore, so there is still hope for me...)

Nevertheless, they all took time to congratulate me on my City Weekly thing. They are supportive and kind, even when we don't agree entirely.

Because we agree on the important things: we recognize the value of each other. My family loves and includes me, even when we don't agree. Plus, I think I got my Aunt to at least tolerate the idea of universal health care.

On Saturday I listened to Elder Cook's talk on women in the church. I was prepared to have my feminist feathers ruffled, even turning to Spouseman and warning him "this is not going to end well."

But then I noticed something. I noticed that Elder Cook stressed marriage as an equal partnership no less than three times. He never once said the word "preside" in reference to a husband's role. For the first time, over the pulpit, I was told that I could be just as valiant if I chose to work outside the home as a mother.

If I chose. Not if my husband died, or if we had a financial crisis, but if I chose.

While some people saw the bit about balancing church callings, (When a woman receives a time intensive calling, her husband will serve in a less time-consuming role,)as a tangent, I was pleased to hear about women acting in positions of authority and value in the church. That their role could be important enough to merit dad staying home, and, dare I say it...nurturing their children.

Plus, did anyone else think the part about the Bishop delegating responsibilities implied a delegation of responsibilities to women?

Most importantly, he was sincere. He was earnest. I could tell that he was trying very hard to reach out not only to the traditional LDS woman, but to those of us who so often feel excluded from the culture of the church. I don't think Elder Cook would agree with the more radical concerns of Mormon feminists, but I felt like he knew those concerns, and was listening.

He listened, and in very subtle, with carefully chosen words, made significant changes to the way we talk about women in the church. I mean, seriously? Are we going to get our undies in a wad over a somewhat-silly story about the contents of a woman's purse when the man said we can stay at home, or work, and still be valiant? DOES IT GET ANYMORE FEMINIST?

Yes, actually, it does. Someday, I hope to listen to a talk that promotes complete gender equality in the structure and organization of the church. I anticipate conference sessions where women not only are given the OK to pray in sacrament, but conference as well. My children and I will listen to more than two female speakers during 10 hours of Conference talks.

I look forward to revelations, authority, and blessings not currently offered to me because of my gender. Someday, we will not offer somewhat patronizing lip service on how awesome women are, because we will be working right alongside our male counterparts as equals. We will know of our potential not based on our gender, but our work.

So despite the fact that Elder Cook did not fulfill all my LDS feminist fantasies, for the first time in a very long time, Elder Cook made me feel like a valued member of a Church family. We don't agree on everything, but we recognize the value of each other.

Now what are the odds I can convince him to support universal health care? *? I think.


Miss Molly said...

I am so in love with you!

The Boob Nazi said...

Maybe I'll have to read this one.... Because I didn't watch any of conference... AND I DON'T EVEN FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT.

alishka babushka said...

i absolutely adored Elder Cook's talk! It is in the top 5 talks that I loved from conference. Just amazing. Also, I loved your thoughts. The end.

Lena said...

I really liked Sylvia Allred in the fist session on Sunday. It was such a nice break to have a female speaker talk to us like adults. And not use the "you're little so I'll speak slowly and vary the pitch of my voice" tone. And she had some great things to say.

Melinda said...


Brooke said...

His talk was great and I had the same reaction you did -- turning to my husband cringing when he announced the topic and then coming away completely validated. I've always been impressed with him and definitely look forward to rereading the talk. He spoke to LDS law students awhile back and specifically mentioned his two children that had also gone to law school -- one of them his daughter who worked for awhile, took some time off, and now *gasp!* practices part-time again. It was so encouraging to hear a General Authority acknowledge his pride in his daughter in relation to her professional accomplishments.

meagan said...

I KNEW I could expect a post from you the second Elder Cook started. I was excited to hear what you had to say.

I also thought it was a great talk and was pleased with the language he used.

I am, however, curious as to what you mean exactly in your closing paragraphs. Especially the phrases "complete gender equality in the structure and organization of the church" and "revelations, authority, and blessings not currently offered to me because of my gender".

My mind jumped right to the Priesthood and the certain level of discomfort that I usually associate with that idea--which may or may not be what you meant-- but I respect how well you state your opinions and would love to get your clarification.

(Even though I know you'll never, EVER convince me that universal health care is a good thing :)

MJ said...

and Amen.

gurrbonzo said...

Agreed. But, can I add to the feminist fantasy that one day we'll hear a talk from a woman about how no matter what anyone says, men are valued in the church and just as important as women and equal to their wives?


JustMe said...

I only saw the last session of conference. Since I was holding a baby for part of it, I think I did some "heavy thinking" with my eyes closed.

What session of conference was this? I'll read it on line just to see what made you so happy.

I have to say that when I usually listen to woman speakers at conference, I tend to doze off. We don't seem to have many engaging speakers that are female. Before you jump to the defense of females everywhere, I shall also mention that some of the male speakers also invite a brief nap.

Glad you are proud of your pioneer ancestry. As a convert to the church who has lived in the west among those of "pioneer ancestry", I want to say "gag me". I cannot tell you how many members I met that seemed to think that they were better and more worthy since they had ancestors who pulled handcarts. My ancestors stayed in the south until we could spend 2 days crossing the prairies in air-conditioned comfort. My ancestors also owned slaves but I don’t think that makes me any less of person. Personally, I think the entire “I am more Mormon than you because my forbearers were pioneers and polygamists” needs to go away. I’m pretty sure we won’t be judged on the actions of our ancestors and we should stop claiming their actions as making us worthy of greater regard.

Sorry for hijacking the tone of this blog, but you know it’s been a while since I let you ruffle my feathers.

Colt said...

After last conference this one was something of a relief. I will still hold my breath for Bednar and Packard come October though.

Stephanie said...

@ meagan

Yep. I am pro women recieving the Priesthood. I am also pro less structually radical approaches as well. For instance, I think it would be great if women spoke more in conference, or worked in more leadership positions in the church.

But yes, I think someday women will have the Priesthood.

If you want more info, check out the Agitating Faithfully site on my sidebar. I know directing you to a link is a cop-out answer, but it summarizes my feelings a lot more eloquently.

I also like the WAVE site, less radical (not asking for the Priesthood,) but has great ideas.

Katrina said...

great perspective. love your thoughts on this.

Marisa said...

SLC Weekly helped me discover your blog. Can I issue a hearty "Amen" to everything you said? I loved his talk as well, but saw it only as a first step into real equality. It's nice Elder Cook is talking about women's equality, but I want to see it with more women speakers and actually have a woman give a prayer in GC. Since offering a prayer is not a priesthood responsibility, why can't a woman offer one?

I also loved Sister Allred's talk and breaking the stereotype of women Conference speakers.

LC said...

I think there's a difference between equality meaning "we do the same things" and equality that means "we perform complimentary roles to achieve the same goal."

While I appreciate that you seem confident in your role as a woman, I wonder sometimes if you're examining feminism so closely that you get hung up on one little glitch rather than seeing progress as a whole.

Your perspectives are certainly different than mine, and I disagree with you whole-heartedly that women will receive the priesthood. However, you strike me as someone who tries to be thoughtful in your opinions, and I find that admirable.

Ru said...

(Not to jump into a discussion that wasn't mine, but hey.)

I think the "same things" v. "complementary roles" issue misses the point. If you apply that logic to society outside of church, it doesn't make any sense. Doctors, teachers, lawyers, cops, firefighters all perform different roles in society, and yet if one group of them were automatically assigned a greater level of respect or authority on issues unrelated to their profession, we would consider that arbitrary and unfair.

Where does it say you need the priesthood to say the opening or closing prayer in Conference? No where. So why do women never get to do it? Why do men get to make almost all (if not all) financial decisions in a ward? Why do teenage girls have to carry the burden of keeping a man's thoughts pure? Why do women have to "influence" a man to do the right thing at all?

Why, if you're a woman and you object to the way things are done, you're THISCLOSE to apostasy, but if you're a man and you object to the same thing, hey, you're a free-thinker.

Personally, I don't really care about getting the priesthood, and yes, I know things are better than they were. But to me, the priesthood argument is almost irrelevant because you can't say the church is currently truly fair to both genders, regardless of priesthood status, with a straight face.

As a single woman, I can get a temple recommend, but if I were married, I'd need my husband's written permission. It doesn't get much more patronizing than that. (Blah blah blah, that's done to ensure marital harmony -- but hey, can't a married woman assess the status of her marriage ON HER OWN? Shouldn't she be the best judge about what impacts HER decisions will have on HER marriage?)

The problem is that one's view of gender equality in the church tends to mirror your own experience -- if you have always had a good bishop/father/husband, it's easy to feel like the church is an equitable organization.

As soon as you have that awful bishop, though, you get reminded that in some areas, even in 2011, women are only treated equitably at the discretion of men, which isn't equality at all.

(Sorry for the ranting. That got a little long there, didn't it?)

Mrs. Clark said...

Ru, I have never had to get my husband's permission to get a temple recommend. Do you mean women who are married to non-member husbands?

MCB, thought-provoking post as usual. I am glad you are getting some much-deserved attention from the media! Especially since we have to (sob) do without Seriously, So Blessed now!

Elizabeth said...

Blessyoublessyoublessyou. After almost two semesters at BYU I have been gnashing my teeth so thoroughly at, well, everything here --- the way so many people take for granted that I will be giving up my career one day, all the talk about how all women are more sensitive and nurturing than men, even one professor who said that all men were left brained and all women were right brained, no kidding, cross my heart.

But this! Oh! How it makes my heart sing. Thank you.

In case you're interested, here is something else that has helped me cope with things a bit, and be a little more of a happy, constructive feminist, instead of just bitter (which is a sad thing to be at age 18):

Vanessa said...

I loved this talk too, I would love to hear more talks by women in conference. I know a lot of women who bash the women speakers though. Some women have "sweet" voices, especially when they are nervous. It is no different from an accent of when an elderly person is talking. It is their voice, and we need to listen to the content. If women can't stop picking eachother apart, based on voice or appearance, we'll never get any where.

Stephanie said...

@Vanessa. I entirely agree with you. I used to be a person who mocked the "Primary voice." Then I realized that no one criticizes men for having an "old man" voice. Thanks for reminding me to listen to content, not sound.