Some good pieces out this week focusing on gender in the Church.
- Why Mormon Men Love “Church Ball” and Are Scared of Homosexuality by Kristine Haglund.
(For a classic lengthy article on Mormon masculinity, check out this old Sunstone article from 1992.)
This piece is neat:
- Joanna Brooks interviews Judy Dushku: “Mitt Romneys Best-Known Mormon Critic Tells it All. One Last Time. “
A couple passages from the interview stuck out for me —
My gut told me differently: […] if I kept [my sons] around Belmont, they would leave the Church because this group made them feel unusual. There were times when I would ask the congregations Boy Scout troop leader how my boys were doing, and he would say pretty good, considering. And I would ask, Considering what? and he said, Considering they dont have a father. This was in the 1980s.
This hit close to home for me. I remember feeling uncomfortable as a kid in the 1990s Church when elders would tell me to “look after my mother” and how I was “the man of the family” when I attended church with just my mother and my little sister. It’s so true… the idealized gender dynamics can really make kids feel like their family is broken if their family doesn’t match up to the ideal. The funny thing was, my parents were actually still married at the time; my father simply wasn’t interested in Mormonism. Either the elders didn’t know that, which I’m sure they did, or they were trying to plant seeds in me that my father was like some kind of parasite — for if he wasn’t “the man of the family,” then what was he?
Sister Dushku, youre right. He [Romney] treats women from outside [of Mormonism] wonderfully and with such respect. Women from the New York Times and businesses in Boston come, and he is the most respectful and relaxed person. He says hi to us but we are so clearly on the sidelines. Were not criticizing him, and we still support him, but we do think of you when it happens.
I had asked in a previous post whether Romney was capable of choosing a female VP. My answer was no — a Mormon man would not invite a woman into that powerful of a position. A commenter disagreed with me, stating that Romney has shown himself to work well with powerful women when he was governor.
It seems that there is a balancing act performed by powerful Mormon men with regards to their treatment of non-Mormon women versus Mormon women. Choosing a female VP would have brought this tension to the forefront, I think, maybe even for the Church as a whole — but I don’t see Romney being the kind of person to push that envelope. He just seems to be embodying the gendered tension his church has with America at large. Ann Romney, too…goodness, did anyone watch her RNC speech? It was uncomfortable to watch.