What I Saw (Guest Submission)

This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the silencing of Mormon Feminist voices within the LDS Church.

(Editor's note: People are often quick to dismiss the concerns of Mormon feminists as a byproduct of "one bad experience" with a male authority figure. Like the "not all men" phenomenon in mainstream feminism, the "not all Mormon Men" response is equally damaging. While there are a great many wonderful Mormon men in the world, supporting a patriarchal institution in which women are denied significant leadership opportunities indirectly supports abuse like the circumstances described below.)

What I Saw

I watched my dad belittle, embarrass, and abuse my mother until the day they divorced almost forty years after they married. I watched my dad be an upstanding church member my whole life. Giving excellent talks, teaching on Sunday, teaching seminary during the week, talking of his mission with fondness. 

I watched my dad pit his children against their mother. I watched my dad zealously love his daughters (until they decided to leave the church and then he called them sluts and whores), while paying next to no attention to his son no matter what he did. I watched my dad gaslight my mother until it drove her this close to crazy. I watched a lot of things I wish I could forget.

In my memory I watch my BYU Sophomore self calling my dad's Stake President and telling him how terrible things were. My mother watched him have a 2 hour interview with the Stake President and nothing more. 

I watched my mother going in and out of the Branch Presidents office trying to get help and I watched nothing happen. I watched my mom give up as my dad would go in and tell a different story that was always taken as truth. 

I watched my dad in his passive aggressive abusive way marry my mothers best friend 2 weeks after their divorce was final. I watched my dad screw my mom over in the divorce. I watched my dad take his new wife to Europe, to Vegas, to shows, horseback riding, to operas, on cross country trips as my mother works 8 hour days at minimum wage to make ends meet. 

I watch my family fall apart, I watch our relationships suffer as my dad sits on the front pew at church telling himself that he was always right, never wrong or whatever self believe thing he does to keep him going day to day. He probably doesn't have to tell himself anything though. He was brought up being told he was always right, that he was always in charge, that he would never be challenged. I watch as he has never uttered an apology, not even a simple "I'm sorry". 

I watch my dad go to the Temple. 

I can't watch anymore. I want my wounds to heal. I wish this experience on no one. I wish for women to be ordained so shit like this will never happen again. 


Mrs. Clark said...

This is heartbreaking. I understand what would prompt this poor woman to leave the Church over this. I had a friend who lived through similar experiences with her first husband, and she and her children bear scars from it, but she has also recognized that the gospel itself had nothing to do with it. My belief is that Christ's atonement will make this right in the end. I say that knowing that it does sound like a hollow platitude, but it is my firm belief. Faith and enduring to the end are difficult to implement.

That said, it is a shame these women were not taken seriously by their priesthood leaders.

But something else to keep in mind: My friend, mentioned above, was grilled by the judge during her divorce. When it was made clear that she had not been physically abused by her husband (though the emotional abuse and unrighteous dominion were severe), that judge nearly laughed in her face. I guess I understand; he probably saw such severe physical abuse that he thought women who remain unbruised have nothing to complain about.

Bless you, and may you and your family find peace and comfort.

Melody said...

Unfortunately, I don't think that this problem will ever go away, even if women were given the priesthood.

Organized religion is ran by regular old people, so all of the problems that come with people in general will always be there.

I'm very sorry that happened to your mom & family. It really, really sucks.