12/28/12

feeeeeeeeeeeelings


Well, that was a lot, wasn't it?

Nobody wants to talk about the damn Pants thing anymore, except maybe me. Mostly, I just want to work through some thoughts, confess some sins, offer penance (ten hail Heavenly Mothers?) and move on.

Here are some things I learned about internet activism:


1. I am not always good at being in charge. I feel like I get a lot of undue credit for the pants thing. The day and event were certainly a group effort, and honestly, All Enlisted has some wonderful administrators who made the entire thing possible. From managing press stuff, moderating group interactions, a mysteriously crashed Facebook page, and fielding thousands of comments and questions from all over the web, the volunteers for this event made everything possible.

I mostly tried not to make things worse, and even then, didn't always succeed.

I think the hardest part was the suddenness of everything. Suddenly, my world was on fire, and there were moments where I dealt with pants stuff from the moment I woke up, until late into the night. This was the case for all the group administrators, and it is just not sustainable. I don't care what the cause is, martyrdom helps no one.

So I thought I did a reasonable thing, by asking someone to step in and co-run some things with me. The person seemed enthusiastic and on message, and more importantly, able to spend the time helping while I worked (remember, that thing I do?) and took care of a very upset baby who doesn't give a shit about pants.

Turns out homegirl was straight-up nuts.

2. So, I learned to be less trusting. Isn't that a sad lesson? But it's true. You can't trust everyone. You can't trust people on the internet to be kind, but you also can't trust kind people to be sane. I learned to be a bit more discerning, because nothing is more humiliating than emailing/calling people you really respect and letting them know you made a mistake. It was really hard and tricky to feel like you were loosing on all fronts.

3. In expressing my feelings of frustration with the Mormon Feminist movement, I'm afraid I did not give due credit to other organizations that shaped me, and helped make Pants Day possible. This article on FMH set me straight, and I apologize for being one sided in my analysis of Mormon Feminism. Yes, I am frustrated with the movement at times, and I think that is okay. But the movement has also made incredible advances for my MoFem sisters, and I acknowledge and respect that. Consider me rightly called to repentence. As the linked article above states:

"... Feminism is just as much internal as it is external. Searching through beliefs you didn’t know you had, choices you made that you didn’t understand, reactions that took you by surprise. And as you excavate your true self out from under the weight of patriarchy, you can join the generations of women who have kept putting one foot in front of the other to get you where you are today. And then you can get walking down that road in preparation for the women who are coming."


Here are some thoughts in general:


1. A lot of people had really valid criticisms of the day, to which all I can say is: of course it wasn't perfect. But it was meant to be an exercise that unified a lot of people. It was also meant to be a place of brainstorming  so naturally some of the ideas were a little nuts. Especially some of mine. My brainstorming process goes from nutty to normal, not the other way around.

In the end, the message was deliberately broad, so that lots of people felt comfortable participating, and we could rally the troops, and start conversations. Nobody expected women to be ordained to the Priesthood by December 17th.(Although Clara did play baby Jesus in my family's Nativity Story, so, there's that.:)  )

So when our event went viral: NY Times! NPR! Daily Mail! We did the best we could in a short period of time, and dang it all, I think we did well.


2. Despite some very, very difficult feelings I still maintain, I think this was a good thing for many people. Conversations happened, relationships happened, and in my very darkest moments, people came out of the woodwork and helped. Just helped. My mom came and cleaned by bathroom. Friends brought cookies and ice-cream, (which made me feel like I was recovering from a break-up, which, now that is is all over, I realized I was.)

Friends sat and listened to me talk, and tell them I didn't want to talk about it anymore, and then listened as I talked about it more. 

People emailed and messaged and even snail-mailed me love and support even though I am not perfect. Even though I am not very good at being in charge, and am perhaps too trusting, and speak without thinking sometimes. People loved me through it, and even though I have a much more guarded heart these days, I can't ignore the outpouring of love and support from friends and strangers. 

If Pants Day helped create the that love and support for anyone else, I consider the day a success. 

For me, this was an end of something, and I'm not sure what. I'm wary and hurt by my church, I feel rejected and abandoned and a lot more guarded in my relationship with Mormonism. It's the end of a lot of idealism, trust, and yes, participation for me (and for now,) but I think it must be a beginning of something wonderful too. Something happened. All at once, people stood up and confessed to feeling hurt and isolated and in pain because of practices many other people say are not just good, but divine. That dichotomous relationship can only lead to questions, and I think questions are a good thing. It all started from a question in the woods.  

That's not true. Classical religious mythology tells us it all stared when a women, not a man, asked a question, broke a rule, and started it all. :)

Lastly, I'd like to address a frequent comment I received in regards to social activism. I got it from really angry people, and I even got it from a friend (who is still my friend, and who I respect, even when we disagree.) 

"You can't petition God/the church. God/the church will change in it's own time."

I genuinely don't understand this perspective, from an organizational, theological, or personal stand-point. 

If people tell me constantly that the "Church is true, but the people are not," then is seems reasonable that we can petition the people in charge for changes. We can all participate in making the people more perfect. 

Furthermore, it works. Living in Salt Lake* the past few years, I've watched people actively petition for changes in the way the Church interacts with the LGBT community. I've seen the rhetoric change from the very painful and damaging approach exhibited in 2008 with Proposition 8, to a new church-sponsored website (which is far from perfect, but also a huge improvement,) in which we are told to love and accept our LGBT brothers and sisters. 

That change was petitioned for. Literally. But also figuratively as Mormons marched in parades, made video campaigns, protested, prayed, and yes, even left with their feet in an act of solidarity. 

Beyond the LGBT movement and the Priesthood extension in 1978, some of the biggest changes to the church have stemmed from members openly petitioning for a better church. This is a good thing, not something to be afraid of. We shouldn't live in fear of questions or "petitions." 

During the pantstastrophe, some truly horrific things happened in the world. I will not pretend to know why these things happen under the watch of a loving God. I don't know. I don't know why, and I cringe every time someone shares a story of  successfully praying to find their keys, because it seems to mock the pain of those who pray for safety and peace and are continually left abandoned. 

All I know, and the only thing I truly believe at this point is a quote by Elie Wiesel. "Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures;peace is our gift to each other."**

If there is a divine power in the universe that loves us, I do not doubt that they want a better world for their creatures. For men and women to be recognized as equal partners in the human experience, defined not by anatomy, but by spirit. For men and women to somehow learn to live together without inflicting so much pain. 

But I think it is our responsibility to act as God's creatures and give the gift of peace (and equality, and safety, and love,) to each other. I think it is morally irresponsible to assume that if God wants something to happen (or not happen,) then he/she/they will cause it or prevent it. God is waiting for us to act, not necessarily the other way around. 

So yes, I petition. I've been calling it prayer all these years, and while I hope someone is listening, I hope more that I can become a person who offers the gift of peace through my actions. One day, my actions included wearing pants to church. I only hope I can do more. 






*Stuff happened outside SLC, too, that is just where I live.
** I know. I've said this before. Whatever. You say the same thing every time you bear your testimony too. 

    




12/14/12

the end



Did you guys know that Jessica Simpson might be pregnant again? I saw an article about her today. Her baby is one month younger than mine? Holy cow.

Also, I caught up on Covert Affairs tonight, and good heavens, half-naked Auggie frantically trying to get dressed so he can run after his fiance, only to fall down and cry into his perfectly sculpted cheekbones.

I cried. I'm not ashamed. I cried.

I may have been a little emotional today, I haven't spent much time on my usual pursuits lately: cross-stitching while watching bad TV and reading celebrity gossip. I've been busy.

Before being busy though, a few months ago, I went to a member-submission Art Show at the Church History Museum. I cried a little then too, because the art was so beautiful, particularly the large painting of a man receiving instruction from a female angel. The description explained that the artist often felt like his mother offered him revelation and guidance, despite passing away.

There were pictures of Jesus teaching women, and women celebrating the news of his Resurrection.

The art represented everything I loved about Mormonism. I felt myself being called home. If Mormons could create art that transcends the cultural and yes, even doctrinal inequities and quirks of their own religion, couldn't there be a place there, for me?

When my friends and I organized All Enlisted and Wear Pants to Church Day, the motive was pure, and rooting in a simple desire to point out inequities within the church, and to stand in solidarity with the many, many men and women who feel simultaneously constricted and ostracized by a religion they care about. We wanted to question, but we wanted to love, as well.

It was a simple way to introduce action to a Mormon Feminist movement that raised a generation of women and men devoted to the church, but devoted to equality too.

The support and kindness we received was overwhelming. The sense of community reminded me of what I felt when I looked at the art created by my Mormon siblings. Maybe there was a place for me here, in Sacrament meeting, with my pants.

What better place than Church, the place where we promise to be more like our Savior, than to practice what we promise? If not church, where? Where better do we learn? In a place dedicated to a Messiah who frequently challenged social norms and angered many in the name of love, what better place?

When things got bad though, when the threats came, and the phone calls, and the media explosion, my soul told me something different. Every fiber in my being told me to run from the group of people who simultaneously condemn me to hell and bear testimony of the Savior.

A long time ago, I learned that questioning my testimony is hard.Today I learned that is is infinitely more painful to question the testimony of your tribe. While I understand, and even empathize with their anger, I can't forget that feeling, that desperate need to run far away from the people who a few weeks ago, may have seen me standing in the Church History Museum and seen me as a sister.

I don't generally feel regret, and I don't regret standing up for a cause I believe in, and a cause I still hope for. But I can't help but feel regret my loss of innocence. My pure and innocent belief that no matter what, I could always come home again.

I question my motives, I want to believe I am good and kind. A week ago, I knew that. A week ago, my biggest problem was wondering if Jessica Simpson really was pregnant again. What a beautiful life.

My long-term, looking-toward- the-future-brain wants to feel hope. I hope I did some good today. Have I made anyone feel glad?


But my weary, weary heart says "Perhaps I have failed, indeed."


All I know is that I have a husband who loves me, and a child who loves me, and a beautiful life, here on the other side of the Pantspocalypse. (Did the Mayans know about PANTS?)

That is my new home. With my family and my needle and thread, and the art I guess I will have to create on my own.

Welcome home.


12/13/12

here.

Dear Internet Friends and Foes,

I am the mother of Stephanie Lauritzen. Over the past few days I have watched as like minded friends rallied in support and friends with different views express themselves respectfully and with kindness. But as a mother reading death threats, angry tirades, and unkind pejorative rants attacking my daughter brought me to tears. No one really knows another persons hea
rt, but I think a mother sees most clearly the heart of a child. I have often felt in my years of mothering that my Heavenly Mother knew my heart and blessed me with insight and instinct to raise my children. So, my mother’s instinct leads me to share a little of what I know about Stephanie’s heart. First, it is not cold or stone. In Ezekiel the Lord tells his people that he will take their stony heart and give them a new heart. That transformation that happens through Christ took place when Stephanie was a child. The Lord gave her a soft heart that feels the ache of others. She has always championed the underdog, looked for those who were lost, listened when people struggled for words to express their grief  She has kept her baptismal covenants to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those in need of comfort. Many of you who have responded to her request to wear pants have treated her as the enemy and addressed her with hatred that defiles a Christian. I am proud of her goodness. While we don’t agree on everything, we agree that the most important commandments are still to love God and to love our fellow man. She’s tired right now, and hurting from some of the stinging comments. If you don’t agree with her I love you because I know your mother loves you with a mother’s heart that sees clearly. If you have been hateful, I love you because you are a beloved child of Heavenly Parents. With all the power of a mother’s love I plead with my fellow members, my fellow Christians to remember we have all been bought with a price. I bless you with peace in your hearts and a knowledge that there is a place for us all in the kingdom of God. He invites all to come unto him, male and female, bond and free, the confused and the struggling, those with the gift of faith and those like Stephanie with the gift of a soft kind heart of flesh.






12/6/12

uh hi?



So one thing I never understood growing up was the assertion that people with ADD are impulsive. I am not impulsive, generally.

For example, I remember, almost to the day, I sat in my AP U.S. History class and decided I wanted to be a History/English teacher. I was 16.

At age 22 I graduated with a Masters in arts and Teaching. I never changed my major.

Now, at age 26, I'm entering my fourth year as an English teacher with two classes that are cross curricular with...AP U.S. History.

Not exactly impulsive.

I plan. I plan and plan and plan some more. To a fault sometimes, because some plans must be abandoned, and it is really hard for me when that happens.

But yesterday, I did something impulsive: I wrote about my sometimes disillusionment with the Mormon Feminist movement, and I suggested some Civil Disobedience.

It was not a call to immediately chain ourselves to the Church Office Building, though many people took it that way. And boy howdy, spared no expense telling me how dumb they thought I was. Thanks.

I do think it is time to think about ways faithful Mormon women can engage in peaceful resistance and Civil Disobedience. I'm a planner. I know plans take time, but what yesterday represented was a call to plan, and a call to act in the best way possible for all concerned parties.

I don't want to pull the rug out from any other Mormon Feminist organizations, and I am aware that it is a delicate balance, to challenge an institution and want to remain part at the same time. That's why I suggested Civil Disobedience: to my knowledge it is the only form of protest that works to change the institution and the radical for the better.

I think Civil Disobedience comes in the form of peaceful resistance, when we simply say "no" to things that hurt our souls. I think it comes from challenging social norms on a wide-scale, like praying to Heavenly Parents in church.

I think it can also be as a big as a pray-in, an service project, or a media campaign.

The possibilities are endless, all I know is that I'm tired of seeing my Mormon Feminist sisters die a slow spiritual death.

So, again, impulsively, I started a group on Facebook. Because I am Facebook illiterate, I did not close the group initially, and probably offended a lot of people when I started posting non-stop and clogging up their stalker feeds. (A trait characteristic of ADD that I do have? The ability to hyper-focus for brief, and prolific periods of time.)

The group is called All Enlisted. The administrators are working on a mission statement, and the members are brainstorming ways to faithfully and peacefully advance feminist causes within the church. I hope to see you there if you are interested, because this is your fight.

Thanks for listening. I now return this blog to the realm of bad-TV, excessive swears, and general tom-ragery.




12/5/12

The dignity of your womanhood...



"Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand beside us, fight with us."  Christabel Pankhurst, Suffragette. 




Yesterday Jezebel published an article titled "Mormon Women are Admired, But Still Not Equal to Men."   I agreed with the article, simply because I find the author Katie J.M. Baker's assertions to be true: "who wants to be different if different means treated as lesser than?"

However, both  Mormon Feminists and non-Feminists disagreed with aspects of the article. Queen of all the Mormon Feminists, Joanna Brooks, referred  to the article as "mildly condescending," claiming that the article did not truly reflect the attitude of Mormon Feminists when Baker hinted that one truly cannot be a feminist and a Mormon simultaneously.

I like to consider myself a Mormon Feminist, most of the time. Mostly, because I consider myself a Mormon by birth, culture, and tradition, and a feminist by common sense and self-respect. But in the short-time I've spent participating in the Mormon Feminist movement (speaking at Conferences, writing articles for various publications, blogging, and podcasting,) I've found myself thinking treasonous thoughts about the movement I otherwise love and respect.

With the perseverance I formally reserved for clinging to my faith, I find myself trying not to doubt the  Mormon Feminist movement. But I can't ignore what I see. At conferences, I see women, often the same women who started the conferences forty years ago, discussing the same issues I find troubling. Modesty, lack of female ordination, the lack of support extended to non-traditional thinkers, the church's systematic excommunication of people who disagree. 

The same fight, generation after generation. Petitions signed and sent, marches organized, pamphlet's distributed. 

As Mormons and Feminists, we are desperate to play nice with the establishment. We don't want to be perceived as unfaithful, because the minute you cross into apostasy, no one hears your voice. We want to rock the boat, but not capsize it. We love Mormonism, and our love causes us to tread softly, bowing our head against blow after blow from the patriarchy.

But are we moving forward, Mormon Feminists? Year after year, I sit in yet another conference, on yet another panel, and still a woman does not offer the opening prayer in General Conference. Our Heavenly Mother remains ignored in her churches, and our petitions to the First Presidency ignored.

Perhaps we could learn a lesson from our suffragist sisters, who, like Mormon women who love their church, loved their country enough to change it. 

But they did not succeed with petitions podcasts, and conferences, they won the vote only after concentrated and active civil disobedience. They won only after love for themselves, and for their dignity, matched their love for their country. 

In 1848 the first Women's Rights Conference was held in Seneca Falls, outlying the goals and concerns of American women. In 1866  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the American Equal Rights Association, an organization dedicated to universal suffrage.

It wasn't enough. The conferences, the petitions, the marches, none of them granted women the right to vote.

Not until women openly opposed the President of the United States, and chained themselves to the gates of the White House, did people start to listen. You can ignore a petition, but you can't ignore the woman chained to your front gate. 

the Suffragists won when they stopped playing "nice." Many were arrested, many saw them as traitors for protesting the President when the country was at war, their devotion to their country questioned, and their freedom to speak as Americans denied.

But by 1920, a mere three years after Alice Paul's first act of civil disobedience by picketing the White House, women gained the right to vote.

As it turns out, the Suffragists weren't traitors, but liberators. 

Can you imagine what would happen if the Mormon Feminist movement stopped playing nice? If faithful, devoted women stood as Silent Sentinels outside the gates of the Church Office Building. If the women who loved the church enough to face accusations of apostasy and potential excommunication organized a sit-out, so that one Sunday no Mormon Feminists came to church. If we stopped organizing Friends of Scouting banquets until our daughters sat at the table, likewise recognized for their own accomplishments.

History has proven that civil disobedience works. Martin Luther King Jr., Alice Paul, Harvey Milk, and countless others faced accusations of treason when they apostatized from the status quo because they loved their country. 

Our Mormon Feminist ancestors have set the stage. Their conferences and petitions have created a beautiful community of women and men who love the church, but want to make it better. But there comes a point where petitions devolve to groveling, conferences resort to begging, and appeals are simply silenced.

We need to remember the dignity of our womanhood. We need to honor the Mormon tradition of not just asking questions, but starting revolutions. Starting new churches and new traditions that honor our Heavenly Parents even when the establishment condemns us as heretics. 

""Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand beside us, fight with us." 


Mormon feminists, I think it is time for some good old-fashioned Civil Disobedience.








This post is dedicated to my friends Natalie and Amber, whose texts and Facebook comments woke me up from a nap and inspired me to write.




12/3/12

Counterpoint 2012


Back in October, I was asked to speak on a panel at Counterpoint. My panel discussed "Women in the Mormon Church: The Limits of Agency."

I felt honored to participate in the panel, and my co-panelists did a wonderful job discussing the role agency plays in the lives of Mormon women.

However, I still feel deeply conflicted about my comments. My initial reaction to the subject matter was very abrupt. Women exist in the church under the direction of men. That is how a patriarchy works. Their agency is limited to what men allow them to do, which, really isn't agency in the sense that they are permitted to choose for themselves. The one choice truly allowed women is the choice to remain within the patriarchal institution (either happily or with the hope that change is coming,) or leave. 

I am beyond the point in my faith where I feel inclined to quibble about this. Yes, the church "honors" women and motherhood. We are incredible. That isn't agency. But our roles are equal, just different, we hear. Okay, but we still don't get to choose those roles. They were assigned to us by someone else. That isn't agency. 

For a church that claims the ability to choose as the act that saved us from damnation, they sure are stingy when offering that act to women.

As you can see, I still have strong feelings about agency and Mormon women.

However, the last three years taught me to see and embrace the gray. I recognize that many Mormon women do not see things as abruptly (or as cynically,) as I do. So, responding to outside pressure from many to "stay positive" and offer a message appealing to both apostate and faithful alike, I wrote some remarks for my panel.

I tried to write honestly, but offer some ideas for how women could expand their agency.

In the end, I feel like I offered breadcrumbs to a starving population. I feel like many women interpreted my experiences about blessing Clara as a way to circumnavigate the patriarchal institution, and that was not my intention. I shared by blessing experience to show just how limited I was in my interactions with my child. Our problems cannot be solved by simply insisting on holding our children. 

Furthermore, I have no business instructing women on how to stay in the church and exert agency. It isn't a decision I made for myself, after all. 

Anyway, the true sign that I am unresolved on any opinion is my ability to write about it endlessly. I'm starting to do so here, so I will end by including a link to my original comments. (This is what I wrote, I made some changes in the actual delivery, but nothing major. I also stopped a few times to get emotional, because that's how I roll.)

I re-read my talk before posting it, and I feel better about it now. I can see myself more in my writing. But I am still reminded of the Anne Bradstreet poem "The Author to Her Book," in which Bradstreet regards her poem as "My rambling brat (in print.)"  All I can do now is go forward.


HERE

11/14/12

i still have rage.


Nod of acknowledgement.

This post brought to you by the stream of consciousness style thinking that comes from lots of unstructured time, sleeping infants, and big bird, who is still employed.

I've been thinking a lot about my plans for next year, since my place of employment is hiring soon, and I need to decide if I want my full-time job back, or if I want to keep kicking it part time. SPOILER: I'm leaning towards full time.There are lots and lots of factors in the decision, (a big one is the issue that I feel like I work 3/4 time, but only get paid 1/2 time, so might as well step it up...) but one little factor is the realization that I really like structured time. Maybe it is the ADD Adderall-junkie in me, or maybe it's just a totally normal personal preference, but I really like knowing what I am doing at any given moment during my work day. 10:43? I will be teaching 6th period. Every time. 1:49? I will be teaching 8th period. 9:18? I will be frantically running to pee between classes.

I always know I am going to be productive as hell (educating approximately 40 members of America's future, AT THE SAME TIME,) and that makes me happy. Plus, when I get home, I know how to deal with the unstructured time I have left. It's a good balance that works for me. So sometimes when I have a whole chunk of unstructured time I start to freak out. Consequently, you find yourself reading navel gazing blog posts, and wondering if this post has a point. Probably does not.

Anyway, I was discussing my work-life options with my friend, Gurr, who, incidentally, has offered me much sage advice over the years.(Today's fat pictures are tomorrow's skinny pictures, namely.) Gurr suggested that whatever I do, resist the inclination to explain my hours to people. It is none of their damn business.

Dude, I currently do this all the time and I should stop:

Random: "What do you do?"

Me: "Well I teach in a  High School."

Random: "Oh, who watches the baby?"

Me: "The daycare at my school, but I only teach every other day, and we have lots of days off for Holidays and stuff, and summer vacation, which also gave me a really long maternity leave and yada yada yada I'm a good mom please don't think I am shirking my divinely-granted super special motherhood duties that make me waaaay spiritual but don't allow me to hold the Priesthood in my own church I promise I nurture the hell out of my kid.........bitch slaps self."

Sometimes, much to my chagrin (at myself, mostly,) the person responds with a "How nice! Teaching is such a great Mom job!" And I nod and smile and inwardly berate myself for throwing all my fellow sisters under the bus, because all jobs are good Mom jobs. But the same segment of society that taught me to justify my hours to prove my worth as a parent teaches people that it is okay for women to work as long as it isn't too much, or falls within the realm of "taking care of small children or the infirm." No one says being a Senator is a great Mom job, but Chelsea Clinton turned out all right.

One time someone told me I had to cut down or quit working because "once you bring children into your home you have to be around to raise them." Oh shove it. There is a big difference between someone watching my kid during the day while I work, and raising them. Likewise, I really hate the people who imply that since "Women can't have it all" I should either a.) not have kids at all, or b.) have kids but not work. I hate that this is a "woman" issue (no one tells Men they can't have it all,) and somehow the fault of feminism. Oh, feminism failed because no one managed to steal that time-changer thing from Hermione that lets you do a million things at once. Wrong. Feminism granted women (and men) the ability to create a work-life balance that suits their needs as individuals. I feel like I will get flack for this, but no one can have "it all" and that is okay. Ideally, and what feminists are still working towards, what you can have is a job you like and a family you love and thousands of choices. So stop whining about not being able to be an astronaut doctor fairy princess SAHM and get to work.


I also hate the above comment regarding raising children because no one tells this to the person who contributed the other 50% of said child's DNA. We simply do not berate men for working, or expect them to rationalize their hours to prove their worth as a parent. "Oh, I'm an investment banker, but I get two weeks off for paternity leave when my wife pops out a kid, and I have some vacation time here and there, I promise I'm a good Dad." Said no one ever.

Mitt Romney's experience working a zillion hours a week at Bain supposedly rendered him capable to save the mothereffing free-world from a fiscal cliff of death, but people wonder if Marissa Mayer is a good Mom, and want her to justify her hours running Yahoo. It's a messed up world guys.

(Don't even get me started on the SAHM's are full-time Moms and the rest of us are part-time parents because I will end you right here on the floor.)

So whether or not I go back full-time, I am not justifying my hours anymore. Consider it an informal social experiment: In regards to my career, I'm not going to do things that men aren't expected to do. So no justifying hours, or calling things "Mom jobs" or acting all apologetic for working hard. Bam. World peace.

Well, this was a bit of a rant. (I congratulated myself recently for mellowing out, and being less cranky in my advanced age, but clearly I was fooling myself.)

Don't let the door of my feminist rage hit your bum on the way out.

Also:


10/30/12

Clara goes hiking and other things.



Greetings.

That should make you feel special, because that is how I address people in real-life most of the time, especially my students or co-workers. Every year I try a social experiment where I say a specific thing a lot, and try and get my students to start saying it too. Nothing too radical, (although I did successfully get all my co-workers to start saying "douchebag") but just enough to indicate that I can warp tiny teenage heads into saying things like "Greetings." I also end class with "goodbye forever." One time, my sub from maternity leave tried to say that and the students got mad at her, because that was my thing. Sweet victory. Also? Much cooler than standing on your desk all "Oh Captain my Captain."

I freaking hate that movie.


This is not a big announcement or anything, but sometimes I think we are nearing the end here, with the old blog. I mean, probably not, because I like attention, but I realized something recently: this blog always maintained the primary function of getting me through something. I started it in college, I complained all through grad school, I kvetched about unemployment here, survived my first year of teaching, and then began the agonizing process of tearing my faith apart and building it into something new. I hate remodels. In future lives, if my reincarnated self picks a religion, I hope she doesn't pick such a fixer-upper, even if it has tons of potential.

Oh, and then there was that time I got pregnant...

Anyway, I'm looking out now and seeing no big storms ahead. Last night we had our National Honors Society Induction Ceremony, which used to really stress me out. Planning! Emailing! Musical Numbers! Now I've got that sucker down to a 35 minutes fine-tuned machine, with cookies after. (Side note: I think parents appreciate short events. As much as we all love your student, no one wants to spend hours in a school Auditorium. Ever.)

That is sort of what the rest of my life is like. It used to really stress me out, now it doesn't. I graduated. I've been teaching for three years, and while I'm always trying to do better, not a lot freaks me out anymore. Took a semi-permanent hiatus on the church thing. No more babies or wild hormones (for a while) to create blog fodder.

So while I will probably always stick around, these very occasional check-ins are probably the new normal around here. Until something else traumatic happens and I once again don't want to shell out money for a therapist. Tragedy bloggers really do have it made, right? Tragedy and fashion bloggers will outlive any zombie apocalypse. (Now take a minute to imagine all those hipsters in their maxi skirts and J.Crew bubble necklaces trying to fight off zombies. I'd read that blog, and so would you.)

In other news we took a trip up to Midway a few weekends ago. I like Midway/Heber, both towns are so unapologetic in their Utahness. Kitschy Relief Society crafts sold in every establishment ever! Even the bike rental place. Five thousand ice cream stores! Cheese! Oh, Utah.

We took Clara on a hike, and it was one of those happy moments when you find yourself living the life you imagined growing up. You went on hikes with your parents, with your baby sibling in the back pack, and you imagined what it would be like, to be the grown- up. Now I'm the grown- up watching Clara ride on my husband's back, and I know that life is still good. Life is still good post graduation and  teaching, and even post faith-crisis. I thought my world would fall apart, and it didn't. It got better.




Dan says Clara spent most of the hike whispering conspiratorially in his ear.


Goodbye forever! (But you know, not really.)

10/11/12

Three things


I saw this on Facebook (damn you Facebook, for combining the useful and the useless,) and I cried my way through the presentation.

This is the kind of mother I want to be.

This is the kind of teacher I want to be.

This is the kind of person I want to be.

Sarah Kay scares me because I realize there is more I could be doing, and should be doing, in my world.






Sarah talks about making lists of things she knows to be true, and having her students do the same. When we identify what we believe, we discover that some people have the exact same beliefs on their lists, and some people have things we don't  even know about on theirs. When we share what we know to be true, we learn more about others, and more about ourselves. 

In honor of Sarah Kay, here are three things I know to be true.

1. Clara looks beautiful when she sleeps in her crib.
2. The place between believing and non-believing is lonely, no matter how many kindred spirits you find.
3. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill taught me that.


What are three things you know to be true?



















10/9/12

In Defense of Your Believing Friend



This is a post written by my friend Sarah. I met Sarah on BYU London Study Abroad. (The Study Abroad that every famous blogger goes on, apparently. You hear that, Sarah? We are famous!) Anyway, Sarah is a Republican, an active Mormon, owner of a home in Utah County, and my friend.

Currently, Sarah lives in Thailand with her two daughters and her husband Rocky. When I wrote my last post, I knew I wanted her to write a response, and her post reminds me of a need to be kinder and more loving. Maybe even to swear less. Thanks for your post, Sarah, and thanks for being my friend.

In Defense of Your Believing Friend:


Mormons aren’t perfect, far from it. We’re just like everyone else, building our careers, raising our families, and living our lives. We’re just doing it with different beliefs and rules. Sure, we screw up. Sometimes we are hypocritical or offensive—but the truth is, we’re just trying to do our best. So next time you talk to your Mormon friend and they say something that you disagree with or find hurtful, cut them a little slack. They don’t mean to upset you.

Steph asked me to make a list to correspond with her list, “What not to say to your faith crisis friend,” and here is what I have. Really, it could be titled, “In defense of your believing friend” but to make it a response to hers I’ll call it, “Things to keep in mind when talking with your Mormon friend.”


1.      Don’t be offended if they try to talk about the gospel.  The gospel is very important to us. It’s like when you meet someone who’s never read your favorite book. (Middlemarch by George Eliot and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, thanks for asking.) You love that book so much, it’s so important to you, it may have changed your life or shaped your way of thought, when you recommend it to someone you do so hoping they have a similar experience. This is the way we feel about the gospel—the happiness and the peace it brings our lives.

This is why we talk about the church with our inactive and nonmember friends. We aren’t trying to save your souls in an attempt to gain some kind of celestial advantage. We are only trying to help you find the happiness the gospel has brought us.

If you don’t want to talk about it, just tell us, we’ll stop. We can’t read minds. We won’t know it bothers you unless you tell us. Politely please, because it is very special to us. We’re your friends, not the vacuum salesman at the door. We have other things in common, let’s hold onto those things and stay friends.

2.      Your believing friends are not naive, ignorant or brainwashed.  My testimony is a personal thing. I don’t have a testimony of the gospel because I don’t know better or because “I didn’t get out when I had the chance.” I have a testimony because I prayed about the Book of Mormon and received confirmation that it is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ. I have a testimony because I see the change for good the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brings to my life and to the lives of the people around me. My testimony is not based on lack of knowledge—it’s based on faith and knowledge. Don’t patronize me by acting as though you know more than me because you’ve left the church.

3.      Don’t trample the things they think are sacred.  In Thailand, I am surrounded by tiny temples, raised on stilts, filled with daily offerings of food and juices.  All part of living in a Buddhist country. I would never affront the people around me for worshiping idols. I would never insult Buddha, Confucius, Hindi gods or Muhammad (I know what a fatwa is). I don’t agree with their teachings but I will not make crass comments about the things they believe are holy. Religion is sacred and personal. Lack of religion is sacred and personal.

If you’ve been a Mormon, or close to one, you’re more familiar with the things we believe are sacred—temples, covenants, religious leaders—don’t throw mud. I’m not saying you shouldn’t disagree, you’re welcome to, I’m just saying you can disagree without being offensive and tactless.

4.      Don’t think your friend sees only sunshine and happiness. I see the crap in the world today. I see the man sitting cross-legged at my train stop, holding a tin can with stubs that don’t reach his elbows. I’m torn between giving him money and the knowledge that chances are, he was maimed as a child and placed there to collect money for the mafia.  I studied Polish history, further evidence that I understand pain. We know life is awful for many people. We have seen sadness, death and lives lost for inexplicable reasons. But we still believe in God.

We keep smiling. That doesn’t mean we don’t mourn. I live by the Tolstoy quote, “God sees the truth but waits.” God sees the baby stretched out on the beggar’s legs. God saw the people pushed into the cattle cars in Poland. He will give them their reward. He sees me. Born to a stable family, in a developed country, at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and He expects more of me.

This is what keeps us happy. This is what strengthens our faith. We know in the end, all wrongs will be right and in exchange for our advantage in this life, we will be expected to have helped others in theirs. Don’t assume our happiness is born from oblivion to the pain in the world. Some people’s happiness does indeed stem from ignorance and oblivion but being Mormon does not make you unaware of hardship.

5.      All Mormon women are not repressed. We aren’t held captive by some evil, restrictive patriarchy. Sure, in our church the roles for men and women are different. WE’RE OKAY WITH THAT. If we weren’t, we’d leave. It’s that simple. You may have been repressed or offended with patriarchy—this does not mean we have. Accept that we are okay with the church as it stands today. This does not make us less of a person or a woman.

It’s the twenty first century—roles between men and women are aligning and becoming more equal than ever. I applaud the advantages made for gender equality while accepting God has a different plan for women than he does for men. I don’t know why women don’t have the priesthood or the answers to any of those other hard questions. What I do know is the church is true—it is true as it stands today. For me that is enough.

Basically, this whole list could be summed up with—agree to disagree, respectfully.

And a quick note to Mormons who have friends struggling with the gospel:

 If you have friend who going through a faith crisis, don’t shut them out. You don’t need to save them; you just need to be their friend.  Your friendship probably has some rooting outside the chapel doors, find that and keep being their friend. (Steph and I share a love of celebrity biographies, all things British and Ronald Reagan.) And to be honest, I hate that Steph’s going through this.  I hate when the people in my life don’t make the choices I want them to. Chances are very good I will die of a nervous breakdown when my kids are teenagers.

People are always going to like different things, act different ways and make different choices. Diversity makes things great. Diversity makes the church great. Accept that your friend is challenging something personal and sacred to you but they are still your friend. The last thing they need is for you to stop talking to them. Apostasy isn’t a contagious disease. Your testimony should be founded in Jesus Christ, not in your peers. Besides, if anything, maintaining a friendship and talking about the gospel will only make your testimony stronger. Keep them in your prayers, love them. That is what Christ would do…is doing.




10/2/12

Things Not To Tell Your Apostate/Heathen/Inactive/Questioning/ In- Faith- Crisis Friend


Back when I was a great Mormon but a mediocre human being (it happens, when you focus on the rules and not necessarily the pure love of Christ,) I tried to convince a male friend to go on a mission. Male friend, (alias Mike,) openly questioned his belief in the church, faced extreme pressure at home to conform to the “ideal Mormon male” prototype established by his very righteous siblings, and battled severe depression.  While sympathetic, I insisted that the only way to fix his deep unhappiness involved spending two years preaching a party-line he didn't believe.

 I did this because my belief in the Mormon Plan of Happiness hinged on the belief that traditional Mormonism offered a perfect blue-print for living. If you obeyed the Word of Wisdom, dressed modestly, went on a mission, got married in the temple, and produced at least three kids, you would be happy for the rest of your life. If you weren't happy, (because even then I recognized I was not,) you could at least achieve happiness in the next life. Just. Stick. With. It.

 Fortunately, Mike disregarded my advice. He did not serve a mission, and later left the church. I sincerely hope he found happiness, but I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to Mike because our relationship evaporated shortly after my attempts to convince him to serve a mission. When my friend needed a confidant, unconditional love, and support, I only offered conformity, the appearance of happiness, and the satisfaction that comes with making sure everyone follows the rules, even if it kills them.  I don’t want to be friends with that person, and neither did Mike.

Regarding relationships with my own friends after my Faith Crisis, I've lived the other side of friendship with a questioning Mormon. People concerned for my salvation offer the same advice I once offered Mike: Just. Stick. With. It. Most of their advice comes from a place of love, some of frustration, and most all of it ineffective.  “Endure to the end” quickly loses its appeal when it means a lifetime of cognitive dissonance and sadness. 

For the betterment of both species, the believing friend and their questioning counterpart, I've developed a list of things you should never, ever say to a friend in Faith Crisis. If you are my believing friend, and said some of these things, don’t feel bad. I've inevitably been a jackass in response, and I promise to follow up with a list of things not to tell your believing friend too. (As soon as I find a believing friend who is still speaking to me to guest post. Kidding.)


1.  “Move out of Utah!”  I hear this all the damn time.  I hate it.

First, I cannot just “move out of Utah.” Spouseman and I own a home and a business here. I am licensed to teach here.  Moving out of Utah would mean subjecting ourselves to potential poverty and financial ruin, and I like eating, and Clara likes having a place to live.

Secondly, what exactly happens outside of Utah that makes it so much better? Is the church still a patriarchal institution in Minnesota? Do Mormons in Nebraska benefit from complete transparency fom the church regarding spending practices? Are women and members of the LGBT community allowed to progress spiritually in a manner equal to their straight male counterparts? No? Then moving to Maine won’t solve my problems.

I find the suggestion to “Move out of Utah” offensive because it implies that I am just offended by Utah Culture, not dealing with serious issues of doctrinal discontent. Yes, I’m sure the Sunday School discussions are better in Tennessee. The Bishops more liberal, the Modesty Gestapo more like regular Police.  It doesn't make how I feel in the temple go away, or how I feel about my Gay brothers and sisters.  I’m not inactive because I hate shade shirts and bump-its.  It took a lot to truly question the faith of my childhood, and I didn't deeply hurt my Spouse and make my mother cry because I didn't like the “culture” in Utah.  Your friends who struggle with their faith crisis can’t just move, and by offering a false solution, you aren't respecting the validity of their feelings.


2.“The Church is perfect, the people are not.”  Blargh. Really? I reject the idea that the Church is somehow a mythical monolith that is self-run and therefore perfect.  The church is made up of people, who are flawed, so mistakes will happen. Beyond that, a little thing called history proves that the Church, just like everything else, is a living social structure that changes over time. If the church was perfect, we wouldn't be lifting bans on priesthood, altering conference talks that are offensive, and revamping manuals to get rid of outdated ideas.


3. “The Gospel is perfect, the people are not.”  See previous mini-rant, but the gospel evolves. Claiming the gospel according to Mormonism is perfect denies the church and its members the ability to progress and grow. Don’t be that guy.


4. “Do you think you are smarter than the prophet?” Well, do you really want me to answer that? Because rumors of President Monson’s dementia are pretty well known. But no, I don’t think I am smarter than the prophet, but I do think I am entitled to personal revelation. Answers to prayers can be different. Prayer is a constant companion for me, and has been for the duration of my faith crisis. But I got a very different answer than you regarding my relationship with the church. I will respect your faith journey if you respect mine.


5. “But if you don’t stay and fight, how will things change? You just can’t just leave and come back when things are good again!” Says who?

But seriously, the choice to stay in the church and hopefully make improvements is a noble decision, and I respect the people who choose this life path. That is still an option for me in many ways. But for some people, waiting and yearning for change when one (especially when one is a woman,) can do little to enact improvements on a permanent and broad scale represents a slow and painful death of the soul. The decision to stay, leave, leave and come back is personal, and there is not a right answer. I will quote my good friend e.e. cummings: “Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.” I spent years “Unbeing dead” in the church, and it didn’t make me a better Mormon, a better Christian, or a happier person. For some, the need to be alive supersedes the desire to wait it out.


6.  If you are dealing with a Feminist in faith crisis, female or male, do not assume that “You clearly had a bad experience with a Priesthood leader!”  Or, more insidiously, that you experienced some form of abuse by a Church leader. For the most part, my Church leaders, past and present, are nice people. Assuming that you are simply “offended” by a person invalidates real and complex feelings stemming from what you believe as a person, and what you learn in church. I’m a petty person, but again, not petty enough to leave a church I spent the majority of my life devoted to because a Relief Society President was catty or a Bishop was insensitive.  Alternately, assuming the only reason a person could leave is severe abuse makes us non-believers feel like freaks. We already feel bad about not loving church, no need to make us feel weirdly guilty about not being abused in order to justify our totally normal feelings.


7.  Lastly, and this one slays me a thousand slays, “Well I never felt that way. I never felt inequity between men and women, I never felt unnecessarily confined by traditional gender roles, I never felt cognitive dissonance between the teachings of Christ and the teachings of the Church. I didn't feel that way about that talk/proclamation/policy, etc.” I am so glad that your church experience is a positive one. Truly. Keep on keeping on. But just because you don’t personally relate to a friend’s struggles with the church doesn't mean their problems don’t exist.  I don’t know the heartache of not being Latin-looking enough to get the Hispanic vote like Mitt Romney, but it doesn't mean Romney isn't an enormous dickalope who doesn't know how to run an election.  Respect the struggles of your friends even if you cannot relate to them personally, they are real, and they are important, just like your friend.


8. Um, I had to add this after the initial posting because it also enrages me: "If God wanted XYZ to happen, it would happen."

Tell that to starving children, rape victims, and people with terminal diseases and see them laugh you off the planet. I'm a big believer in God wanting us to help each other, and to figure out our own shit. As Elie Wiesel once said, (incidentally, I bet Wiesel believes in a God who wept when things like, say, THE HOLOCAUST  happened,) " Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.” If we want equality to happen, if we want the world to be a better place, we need to make it happen. Waiting around for God when you could have righted a wrong or eased a burden yourself seems irresponsible of a people allegedly devoted to the teachings of Christ. END ADDENDUM RANT. 




So what can you do for your friend who suddenly goes heathen on you?

Love them. It seems so simple, and so saccharine, but your friend’s world is falling apart at the seams, and they need you to love them. They need love if they stay, if they leave, if they are only sometimes active and wear pants to Relief Society.  They do not need preachy email forwards, accusations, or threats.  I wish deeply that I had been a better friend for Mike during a difficult time in his life. I am grateful for the friends, both believing and hell-bound, that supported and loved me in the years post faith crisis. I don’t know what I believe sometimes, but I hope there is one thing believers and questioners can agree on: Love conquers all. 



*Corrections: I changed the line about using tithing dollars and malls to a question about financial transparency from the church. We don't know how the church uses all of its funds.

**I also changed the line about President Monson from reports to rumors. There are not official reports, just rumors.

I should have been more precise in my writing, and I apologize.


9/28/12

no delete....friday



I mean, we can pretend it is Thursday, if you want. I would have done a no-delete post yesterday, but I was busy napping and eating sour patch kids.

This post is brought to you by the fact that Clara is exhausted from another riveting day at daycare, but absolutely refuses to sleep, because why sleep? Last time she fell asleep Mom abandoned her and left her in the care of teens, so instead, she will just lay on my side and stare at me angrily. How dare you, Mom, how dare you? It is sad, how desperately she fights sleep, and how she absolutely refuses to be held or cuddled, since that would lead to sleep. Stubborn little nugget. (We should have expected this behavior, coming from the former-fetus who would start moving head down, only to flip back up. My c-section scar thanks you for that, Clara Alice.)

Anyway, when I say riveting in reference to daycare, I mean it, that isn't the usual Child Bride sarcastic bullshittery you've grown to know and love. They take very good care of her there, despite the fact that until recently she was very fussy, and had a habit of staging passive aggressive diaper blow-outs every day during her nap. I guess that isn't passive aggressive  that is just regular aggressive  Way to break gender normative expectations of conflict avoidance, child. Anyway, they take very good care of her, and there really is only one teen who comes in as an aide, and I like her. 

What else is new? Not much. I thought Mimi Smartypants had a funny post today. (CAUTION: blog linked is profane sometimes, politically incorrect often, and occasionally sweet and tender. So read at your own will and pleasure and please don't email me some nonsense about how you just cannot believe that a sweet Mormon girl would link to such trash. Because I will just laugh at you because WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS.) 

Anyway, here is a link to the Smartypants blog: http://mimismartypants.com/

Here is my favorite blurb from her last post: 

"Her teacher is a dude, and is of the “Entertaining Rockstar” ilk—chatty, goofy, fond of props and technology and humor. The kind of teacher that kids LOVE and parents…also love, although my inner bitch sometimes silently rolls her eyes at the level of sparkly enthusiasm. Do not get me wrong, if there is any profession where daily sparkly passionate enthusiasm is a huge plus it is probably teaching. I am super grateful that people like that exist and are making my kid’s fourth-grade year a joyful, learning-rich time. I just get a little mentally worn out being around such people."

I probably would wear out Mimi smartypants, especially today when I drank so much caffeine to get through the day that I was walking the fine line between "enthusiastic educator" and "manic lunatic not to be left in the presence of children."  Also, Mimi Smartypants is not a fan of Mormons, so I'm probably screwed on that front too. (I can't  believe a sweet little Mormon girl would link to such trash, yada yada yada I hate you....)

Maybe Smartypants lady wouldn't like me, but it doesn't stop me from reading and enjoying her blog. Sometimes I get comments or emails from people saying things like "I like your blog, even though you probably don't like mine." I always wonder about that. I click over to their blogs and they are usually mommy- type blogs, and I am, despite frequent accusations to the contrary, cool with moms. Are you nice? Do you talk about your kids in a funny way? Do you occasionally post really easy recipes that are delicious? I will probably like your blog just fine. Do you humblebrag about how awesome you and your spouse are, including the inability to separate yourself from your spouse's academic or career accomplishments ("We are in Medical School....".) Game over, in that case. Otherwise, please proceed  I probably like you fine, and probably even find your children adorable. Be funny. Don't be a dickalope.

Speaking of children, my students were very funny today. If you are my friend on facebook, you already hear a lot about the funny things they say, but what if you are not my friend? If you are not my friend please enjoy the following gems for the first time. 

Student A: "I hate this class! We spend so much time looking at words!" 
Student B: "That's called reading, this is English, and you are an idiot."

and

Best tattletale student ever: " Richard won't give up his notions of normative gender roles! He's being a privileged male again!"


See? They are funny. If you are seeing those gems for a second time, I apologize. Clearly, my blogging skills are bordering awfully close to non-existent. I did not even swear creatively in this post.  Unless you count dickalope, which I guess I do.


Thus ends this edition of no-delete Day-Ending-With-Y. I cheated a few times. I was going to talk about a mom-blogger that is rude to me, but I decided I've got 99 problems but a crazy mom-blogger ain't one.






9/17/12

part-time and half-lives



Greetings!

I felt like I needed a break from the internet. Do you ever feel that way? I even deleted my Facebook account for about....34 hours. (I really enjoy Facebook, all right?) I thought about explaining why I needed a break from the internet, but then I recognized that potential post as the most boring thing ever.(Life! Transitions! Sad feelings! Happy feelings!) So instead you get a blurb, and an update. Woot to you, good sirs and madams. Here's what is new with me:


School started again. Would you like to read about my schedule? I teach four classes instead of six, and I only work on B days. (High school schedules have four classes on A days, and four different classes on B days.) So for the first few weeks of school, by the miracle of Labor Day, I only had to teach 4 times. Things are a little  bit busier now, but I like part time teaching for the time being. It was really important to me to go back to work, but I'm glad (and very aware* of how privileged** I am,) to have a gig where I spend lots of time with  Clara Chubzilla and lots of time with squirrelly teens.

Clara goes to a daycare at my school, and she copes by either sleeping a lot, or not sleeping at all and screaming a lot. One time I went to collect her and an anxious looking teen was holding her and bouncing her up and down. As she carefully passed her over, she sighed and stretched out her arm, wincing. "My arm has been asleep for the last hour, but I didn't want to put her down or she would start screaming again." Sheesh. Sorry teen, hope that helps you remember to play it safe should you ever decide to engage in adult relationships with a romantic partner.

The moral of the story? Hopefully Clara adapts to daycare soon, and I really, really, enjoy my job. I was away for a long time, and I have less on my plate this year, so I've really been able to enjoy working. The class dynamics have been pretty positive so far, and I love what I teach, and I feel really alive and happy when a lesson goes particularly well, or a student says something truly insightful.

Every summer I debate about my job. It is hard, and stressful, and the pay is bullshit. But the first few weeks of school always suck me back in. I love my job. Every September I remember the sixteen-year- old girl who sat in AP U.S. History beaming as she realized she was good at learning. And ten years later she has her own classroom, and her students are watching her because, damn, she has great teacher presence, and that woman and those students are learning together. I'm still beaming, and it is a dream come true, and I'm glad I stuck with it.

This feeling? I want Clara to have it. Whatever it is that makes her feel just a little bit more alive than she felt when she woke up. I hope I show her that, when she watches me work, that what I am doing helps me feel more alive, and she deserves that feeling too.

You know what really helps one appreciate being a woman and having something that makes one feel alive? Reading The Feminine Mystique for book club last month. I felt enraged and discouraged, but happy and hopeful the whole time I read it. I've lived in worlds where I was forced to accept "The Problem That Has No Name," as inevitable, and even as a godly trial. To fight against that constantly, and to fight against that for my child, is exhausting. But as Betty Friedan so beautifully put it, before women started fighting for freedom, "Only men had the freedom to love, and enjoy love, and decide for themselves in the eyes of their God the problems of right and wrong. Did women want these freedoms because they wanted to be men? Or did they want them because they also were human?" Amen, Betty, amen.

A few weeks ago, someone left a comment on my blog, (and to be fair, I'm unsure of the intended tone,) about women wanting the Priesthood. "Is Priesthood Envy the new Penis Envy? Just askin'?"

I ignored the comment because I don't think that person meant it as a question. I think they were stating something they believed to be fact, and by reducing female ordination to a flippant comment about female pettiness, they might not have to think about it anymore.

But I guess I'm not ignoring it now, just long enough to say that Penis Envy (and it's various incarnations, including Priesthood Envy,) is a stupid myth meant to demonize feminism and shut down meaningful discourse between people. Women do not want equality so that they can be men. Women want equality, as Friedan points out, so that we can be human. We do not want your body parts, we want your rights and privileges, which in the case of Priesthood, are granted based on those body parts.

I am lucky that I have a job and a life that most of the time, helps me feel alive. But there are so many women who still feel "stopped at a stage of evolution far short of their human capacity" (Friedan). Sometimes they feel like me, that their spiritual evolution stopped when they turned 12, or when they went through the temple, or when they had a good idea, but no "Presiding Priesthood Authority" to fight for them. Wherever you fall on the question of feminism, or the question of female ordination in your church, you should stop thinking of these movements and questions as an attempt to take something from someone else. (Penises, Priesthood, authority, etc.)

Instead, you should start seeing these movements and questions as what they are: the simple desire to feel human. To feel more alive.




So that's what's new with me.







*Liberal blogger buzzword alert! Aware, AND **Privilege! Bam.






8/24/12

Things we don't say to men...


I’ve already confessed several times that I enjoy lurking on fashion/lifestyle blogs. Some I genuinely enjoy, and others I sort of hate-read. This probably makes me a bad person, but I’m strangely unconcerned about this.

I especially like fashion/lifestyle blogs that throw in baby pictures. Even if I hate-read the blog, I don’t ever hate-look at babies, that’s my bad-person line.  Recently, however, I’ve determined that looking at more than one fashion/lifestyle/mom blog is pointless. They are all the same. Baseball tee, maxi-skirt, saltwater sandals, cute bald accessory-I-mean-baby.

One thing I’ve also noticed is that many of them all have a post advocating the need to get dressed up sassy, even if you aren’t leaving the house and choosing to hang out at home with your cute baby instead. Most of their reasons are legitimate: it makes you feel better, makes you feel less like a mom blob, you are ready to escape your home at any moment, etc. This is all fine and good, except for I am cool with going out in my pajamas, and I feel good about myself as long as my hand is wrapped around a Diet Coke.

So fine, get dressed in your cute brightly colored skinny pants if it makes you feel better. Leave it at that and I won’t hate read you. But I do hate the last reason many bloggers site as a reason to get dressed in the morning: their husband deserves it.


“Your husband deserves to have a wife that looks nice!”



Hold the phone. Deserves? Is this some inalienable right in the Constitution? One that those crazy liberals made up when they keep insisting that the Constitution is a living document? I’m confused.

While I have no problem dressing up because your husband likes how you look in that baseball tee, (I’m still more inclined to vote for the I-do-this-because-I-like-it option, but whatever,)I do have a problem with the language of entitlement. The idea that your husband, simply by being a man, somehow deserves a certain type of body, and a certain type of appearance.  What did he do to deserve the sight of you in your glorious maxi skirt instead of your slubby yoga trousers? (Trousers make me sound fancy and put together.) Most bloggers suggest that your dude deserves you to look pretty because he has been working hard all day to bring home the bacon.

What? These are the same women who will simultaneously refer their decision to stay at home as their “career,” and rightfully insist that their decision to do so be respected as much as the decision to work.

But nobody tells men they ought to pull over on the way home from work to freshen up. Where is the fashion blog telling men to make sure to wear cheerful looking ties because their wives deserve it after a long day of working hard?  Men deserve a certain type of woman, but it doesn’t go both ways, and I think that is weird.

This led me to think of all the many things we don’t tell men, but also what we do tell men. We don’t tell men that their wives deserve to see them dressed up, but we may tell them to dress up so they are more likely to get laid. This is the justification of basically any remotely-fashion related article in any “Dude” magazine, like GQ or Maxim.

Furthermore, there is no male equivalent of Dr. Laura telling men that their wives will leave them (and they deserve it,) if they wear sweat pants. 

I know that isn’t the message fashion bloggers intend when they tell me to get out of my pajamas in the morning, but it is still an interesting commentary about our world. In a female dominated field like blogging, we still write about what men deserve when they interact with us.

Men get to control their bodies in a way women don’t, they have ownership of their bodies in a way women don’t. And if you don’t believe me, check out all the Republican politicians trying to legislate my ovaries. Men deserve to have women to look a certain way, and men deserve to tell us how to run our bodies. Because of their magical penises, I guess. 

But because patriarchy is damaging to both men and women, I started to think about other things we don’t tell men, but maybe we should.


“You can always stay home and have babies, if you want.”



My Dad used to say this to me all the time. Now his phrasing isn’t super feminist friendly, and usually I balk at another man, (even my dad,) deigning to tell me what I can do, but let’s cut him some slack. My Dad always let me know that I had options. He supported me in my education, and is openly proud of my career, but he also let me know that there were many ways to be an effective adult. 

But I can’t picture him, or very many people, telling this to my teenage brother. Stay-At-Home-Dads are still a rarity outside of sitcom land, but I refuse to believe this is because men don’t find the idea appealing.  In a culture, and if you are Mormon, a church, that emphasizes traditional gender roles, I imagine there are a lot of men in unhappy careers and women unhappy at home. What would happen to our depression rates if we told everyone, “You can always stay home and have babies, if you want. You can also get a job. Maybe you and your partner, should you choose to have one, could find a balance that works for you both.”

So while I am slightly annoyed when people tell me my spouse “deserves” a version of me that may not mesh with my own vision, and while we are all rightly angry when men try and legally control our bodies, I think the solution goes further than telling men to shut up about what we can’t do with our bodies, (wear sweatpants, control what happens to our reproductive organs). We need to start telling men and women all the things they can do, all the options they do have, and most importantly, that their feelings about their bodies matter.

So what else? It is easy to tell men to stop telling women what to do with our bodies, but are there things we should tell men they CAN do with theirs? (You know, if they want.)

 Let’s talk about this. Are there things we should be saying to men? What other things do we tell women that we don’t tell men? 











PS: My spidey senses tell me that someone is going to log on and say BUT I LIKE WEARING HEELS FOR MY HUZZZZBAND. I like looking nice for him! I’d rather be feminine than feminist! To which I say: Cool. Please continue to wear heels for your husband, or make-up, or a shirt in his favorite color. I simply think that you should do that because you love him, not because he “deserves” it for having a penis and a job. Also, feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive, but that is a chat for another day.