What Women Know

Women

Some of you may already have seen this site and this link.

I wanted to repost it for those who might not have seen it.

What Women Know

I thought this statement was particularly poignant.
“We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents.”

I agree that not everyone is meant to be a parent. Some may choose other paths. When we value each individual’s choices about parenting – we are only helping our society as a whole.

As I’ve mentioned before, the idea that “one size fits all” doesn’t fit for everyone. Ultimately by accepting a person or couples’ decision to have children, when to have children, how many children to have – we can only benefit as a society.

28 thoughts on “What Women Know

  1. I thought the statement as a whole belied its committee authorship — it was bland, inoffensive and meaningless.

    How can any message be taken seriously when it includes such trite phrases as:

    “We are the authors of our own lives” and “…people of worth in our own right, in our choices, in our individuality, and in our belief that the life story we are ultimately responsible for is our own.”???

    Life story?? What the hell is that? And I’m responsible for it? And to whom exactly am I responsible? Myself? Others?? God??? The statement shows once again that we value style over substance. How can anyone write so much and say so little?

    Aerin said:

    “I agree that not everyone is meant to be a parent. Some may choose other paths. When we value each individual’s choices about parenting – we are only helping our society as a whole”

    So we value something by not commenting on it, not judging it and basically ignoring it? I’m not sure how people choosing not to have kids is going to help society. I personally believe that all persons physically and psychologically able to bear children have a moral responsibility to society to have a least two children. Society gives me the opportunity to live my life as I see fit. I can at least reciprocate by replacing myself and my wife with two people that will enable this society to continue.

  2. I think what “life story” means to me is just what you wrote in the second part of your comment dpc. That all persons physically and psychologically able have a moral responsibility to have at least two children. That we each have the right to choose our own belief systems and how we will live.

    Who are we responsible to? Well, that’s the $21,000 question, isn’t it? I think each person has their own beliefs about who/what they are responsible to – society, God, loved ones, themselves, etc. And as soon as someone says a definite “Everyone is responsible to society” – it brings up all sorts of questions about what society is and whether or not fair.

    I disagree that a person has the moral obligation to have children if they are physically or psychologically able. I don’t think population growth is slowing anytime soon.

    I think you and I can agree that parenting is a full time job. Not only is it expensive, it is emotionally very difficult. Not to mention the everday physical labor that parenting requires (some sleepless nights, diaper changes when a child is an infant, cleaning up after a child is sick, etc.) Being the oldest in a large family, I had a pretty good idea of what parenting entailed. But as a parent myself, it was all that and more.

    Just like with a job (or a marriage or any life decision) – I think each person should be able to choose if they want to spend their energy on parenting.

    Have you read “Freakonomics”? One of his theories is that violent crime has gone down in the US due to the availability of abortion – that women could choose not to be mothers.

  3. Aerin said:

    “I don’t think population growth is slowing anytime soon.”

    I’m not sure where you live. If you live in Utah County I think that you wouldn’t see the population growth slowing, but one of the biggest challenges facing the industrialized world today are low fertility rates. I know for a fact that the population in Canada (where I am from originally) would be shrinking were it not for immigration. The cost of attracting high quality immigrants and then helping them with the acculturation process is much more difficult then having children born and raising them in the system. That is not to say that immigration is bad, however. I just don’t think that it good to rely on it as your sole source of population growth.

    “Have you read “Freakonomics”? One of his theories is that violent crime has gone down in the US due to the availability of abortion – that women could choose not to be mothers.”

    I have read Freakonomics. As I read it, the federal legality (which is different from availability) of abortion appears to be *correlated* with a decrease in violent crime. Several economists dispute the methodology used to arrive at this correlation. I also know the John D. Mueller published a review in the Claremont Review that argued that economic fatherhood, not abortion, led to a reduction in crime rates and that the increase in abortion in the 1970s actually caused higher rates of violent crime. You can read it for yourself here:

    http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1008/article_detail.asp

  4. dpc,

    I think you’ll find meaning when you place their statements in contrast with the attitudes represented in Julie Beck’s talk. In true Relief Society fashion, these women are calling a ultra-polite bullshit on the trite attitudes many LDS people hold. I’ll translate the politeness for you:

    Fathers as well as mothers, men as well as women, are called to nurture.

    If a father notices his child bearing the burden of a “dirty” diaper, he damn well better do something about it.

    Individuals and relationships flourish when we are able to share not only our strengths but also our mutual imperfections and needs.

    Get it through your skulls that June Cleaver and Martha Stewart aren’t real people. They are just characters on bland television shows.

    Cleanliness depends upon access to resources and has more to do with priorities than purity of heart.

    I’m too busy living my life to care that there are dirty dishes in the sink and semi-naked children eating off the floor when the visiting teachers come over for a surprise visit.

    Housework is something that grownups do and that children learn by example and instruction.

    Being born female isn’t a sentence of lifelong domestic slavery, so you better get off your butt and do some dishes.

    We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents.

    Until the Brethren or the Relief Society start paying my bills or providing free, quality child care, they better back off with the baby-making talk.

    Effective parenting is a learned behavior, and, as parents, we learn and grow with each child.

    No one is perfect from the day the baby drops, and we won’t accept your guilt trip when our child decides to leave this church and its meddlesome culture.

    The choice to have children does not rule out other avenues of influence and power.

    Make with the priesthood for women already.

    When it comes to employment, most women prefer the luxury of choice to the limitations of necessity.

    Stop firing pregnant or divorced CES employees.

    We work because we want to; because we need to; and because we have no other choice.

    Having a lot of money doesn’t buy happiness, but having some money certainly does. If that means that I need to work to support the baker’s dozen of buns that have left this oven because you told me to multiply and replenish the earth, then a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.

    Men are our fathers, sons, brothers, partners, lovers, and friends.

    Learn from history: separate is inherently unequal.

    We have discovered that healthy relationships are equitable relationships.

    No, I will not follow the law of my husband.

    We claim the life-affirming powers of spirit and wisdom, and reject the glorification of violence in all its forms.

    Has anyone noticed that the scriptures are replete with the glorification of violence? I plan to skip over the stupid parts of the scriptures during FHE.

    Our roles as mothers, sisters, daughters, partners, and friends are just a few of the many parts we will play in the course of our lives.

    Stop try to make me a one-dimensional character.

    This isn’t trite at all when you think about it in relation to LDS culture. It’s more of an iron-fist manifesto in a velvet glove of diplomacy.

  5. I don’t have anything remotely intelligent to add to this conversation. I nearly woke up the baby, cheering when I read this “manifesto”. They should add that they are not statues so, take us of this damn pedestal.

    “This isn’t trite at all when you think about it in relation to LDS culture. It’s more of an iron-fist manifesto in a velvet glove of diplomacy.”

    I completely agree. And who knows, the brethren might not get to ignore it when their wives start signing.

  6. “And who knows, the brethren might not get to ignore it when their wives start signing.”

    Well, here’s hoping. But something tells me you’ll have a tougher time bringing the women around than the men. Possibly anyway.

    Anyone remember that pilot first episode of Star Trek? The one where they had “Captain Pike” and ended up turning it into a later episode in the series when they decided not to go with the original actors?

    Well, you might remember that Captain Pike’s First Officer on the Enterprise was a female. A rather progressive notion back then.

    They screened the episode before a sample audience to gage reactions. The female audience member’s reactions were rather interesting. When the female First Officer entered the screen, you could hear many of the WOMEN in the audience clucking disapprovingly, or muttering “who does she think she is?”

    Just an anecdote. But I wouldn’t make any assumptions that LDS women are just rearing to go on this brave new vision. That’s all.

  7. There’s definitely something to that, Seth. It might be because it is harder to change when you bought into your own subordination. There has been considerable sacrifice that progress invalidates.

  8. If LDS women don’t support the manifesto (‘iron-fisted’ though it may be), it’s more likely because it doesn’t say anything useful or meaningful rather than disapproval. I may as well set up a sit called “What Men Know” that derides the pressure the church puts on men to become husbands and fathers, rather than “choosing their own path” and “becoming an author of their own life”. Why is it that when a suggestion is made to women, it is sexist, but when a suggestion is made to men, it’s appropriate?

  9. aerin: Actually, birth rates are plummeting in much of the industrialized world. This is evident in Europe, Japan, and other places.
    The U.S. rates are also falling, esp. of caucasians. I outlined some research abt the implications of this (written in the pop press) in a post on FLAK a while back…
    Lack of water & other resources eventually modulates birth rates; humans aren’t always as dumb as we think.

  10. aerin: (pardon the additional, pls)

    the term FERTILITY usually refers to individuals or small groups; BIRTH rates applies to populations.
    Google ‘falling birth rates’ more info (sorry couldn’t copy & paste!)Falling BIRTH rates are a coming demographic nightmare.

  11. Yeah, I’m not looking forward to paying for the Baby Boomer generation’s government benefits. But that is a definite cost of falling birth rates – the risk that the elderly will get left high-and-dry without enough young uns to take care of them.

  12. dpc, I would agree that the pressure put on men to become husbands and fathers is inappropriate. The situation isn’t completely symmetric, however. Men in the church are also encouraged to explore their non-parental talents and spend significant time outside of the home.

  13. Well, the boomers paid and are paying for the “Greatest Gen” social security. It is that generation that has received the most bang for their buck. They all got back far more than they paid in, and were part of the demographic that still had corporate pensions. The boomers may get back what they paid in.

  14. I can see why people would be concerned about social security in light of declining birth rates. Sometimes, however, the obvious conclusions are wrong.

    The ratio of old to young people is not necessarily the relevant figure to determine the viability of pay roll tax financed programs. What matters is the productivity of the work force. As long as the GDP grows somewhat faster than two percent per year, which is the growth that the bankruptcy studies assume, there won’t be a problem with social security.

    Medicare is a different story. Unlike social security, there is a real crisis with Medicare. That has to do with the rapid increase of health care costs.

    That could be substantially alleviated if we modernized the American health insurance system, which is the most wasteful and inefficient system in the world. We are spending twice as much per capita than anyone else only to achieve life expectancy and childhood mortality rates of some third world countries.

    Since the inception of social security in the 1880s in Europe, birth rates have dramatically fallen. Social security has yet to fail anywhere. The reason for the program’s counter-intuitive success is that per capita productivity has outpaced the decline of family size.

    In fact, productivity could not have increased as rapidly if families had not become smaller because parents could not have afforded to sufficiently invest into their children’s education.

  15. Hellmut said:

    “Since the inception of social security in the 1880s in Europe, birth rates have dramatically fallen. Social security has yet to fail anywhere. The reason for the program’s counter-intuitive success is that per capita productivity has outpaced the decline of family size.”

    I think you make valid points with which I agree. However, even though the system may not bankrupt itself, if there are no people around for the system to benefit, what good is that?

    That’s why I believe that every person who is physically and psychologically able to have children should have two children in order to maintain population stability. I can’t think of any justifications for an exception. I’m sure that someone will say something about financial constraints or timing, but I can’t think of any optimal time to have children. You’re going to be poorer whether you have them at age 21 or 31. The timing issue is somewhat irrelevant. You should have two children while you are still fertile and healthy and have the psychological wherewithall to have children. The younger you are, the less likely you will be psychologically prepared for children. The older you are, you are more likely to have fertility and health issues.

  16. dpc wrote:
    “The cost of attracting high quality immigrants and then helping them with the acculturation process is much more difficult then having children born and raising them in the system. That is not to say that immigration is bad, however. I just don’t think that it good to rely on it as your sole source of population growth.”

    I disagree with this statement. I don’t think that increasing the population in “western” countries is the answer or a good long term solution. I would think we should work for change within many of the cultures to promote human rights, knowledge, understanding, etc. As far as the environment goes, each human born adds to the amount of carbon they will add to the atmosphere.

    So, if we’re concerned with global warming and the impact of humans on the environment, it would make sense that we would try to increase the education, core values (like women’s rights), decrease poverty, etc. within other cultures instead of just attempting to “breed” them out.

    It’s also incredibly arrogant of me to assume that my culture and values are the “right” values.

    Then again, I can’t say that I’m not disgusted when I read about the treatment of some women in Saudi Arabia or in various countries.

    I don’t know that there is an answer.

  17. Aerin:

    I was talking about maintaining our society and culture where it is. I want my kids and their kids, and their kids, etc. to be able to enjoy the same freedoms that I was able to enjoy under our Western liberal democracy. It would be a shame to see it wilt away because of fewer and fewer people.

    “It’s also incredibly arrogant of me to assume that my culture and values are the “right” values.

    Then again, I can’t say that I’m not disgusted when I read about the treatment of some women in Saudi Arabia or in various countries.”

    That’s the dilemma of every moral relativist. 😉

  18. Jonathan:

    “I’m still not worried because total world population continues to grow, and I’m not concerned with preserving a particular culture.”

    Yeah, but we spent thousands of years developing ours. It would be a shame if all that effort went to waste.

    “Maybe I’ll have an extra couple kids just to be safe.”

    As long as you have two kids, you’ve fulfilled your moral obligation to society. 🙂

  19. Seth, I hope it was just a temporary glitch. Let me know if you’re still having trouble.

    dpc, I look forward to our culture evolving. I believe in social Darwinism just enough to not value cultural stasis. It is regrettable, however, that cultures that place emphasis on breeding have an advantage in the long run, but that’s always been the case. Our current culture was developed under those same influences.

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