Woman and mormon motherhood

Family Women

http://www.sltrib.com/faith/ci_9197476

In the Salt Lake Tribune this morning, Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote an article highlighting the challenges the LDS church leadership faces in trying to adhere to theology like the Proclamation of the Family when advising a progressively diverse range of women. 

The dichotomy between the traditional mothering figure and the modern career-oriented female is not a stranger to those of us females who were raised in the church.  This dichotomy gets stronger and more pronounced the more the peripheral society empowers women.   As mentioned in the article, the church often gives conflicting and confusing advice to women.  President Hinckley advised the young women to go out, get an education, and then Sister Beck last year again reimphasized the traditional role of setting your goal to be a baby-bearing mother whose life’s purpose and fulfillment is tied up in daughters with curly hair and sons with ironed shirts.

 Why oh why don’t they leave women alone instead of trying to direct them towards one true femalehood?  Is there not a single female in church women leadership who has simultaneously had to have a job and care for a family?  Are they incapable of understanding how very hollow it is to be raised with the message “find your potential, be the best you can be” and then act ignorant when the same potentialized woman does not find fulfillment in changing diapers and cleaning toilets all day because that is not the arena where she chose to let her previous life talent shine?  Is it that difficult to understand how a woman with a masters in biology is going to feel undirected and purposeless to be sitting at the park with another mom discussing last night’s adventures of insomnia and the morning potty-training relapse?

 The women of the world are intelligent.  The young women of the church are intelligent.  Let them find and fulfill their personal dreams based on their innate talents and skills instead of trying to convince them of what their dream should be based on what you feel God’s plan is for them.  To advise anything less is to demean their individuality.  Not every female was born to be a mom.  And she should not feel bad, within her own religion, because she is not one.  It is biology that propels a woman toward childbearing, not God.

9 thoughts on “Woman and mormon motherhood

  1. I’m constantly reminded as to how similar the situation for women and gays in the church are.

    Let them find and fulfill their personal dreams based on their innate talents and skills instead of trying to convince them of what their dream should be based on what you feel God’s plan is for them.

    This could just as easily be applied not only to gays, but to everyone in the church.

    If only.

  2. On the commute to/from work there are many women on the train. One common theme that arises as they chat to one another is that they want more support from the husbands. Support meaning, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, helping with the kids. Some of these women are angry that old stereotypes will not die.
    If TSCC wants to help their female memvers, have an enrichment night every month that is taught by the RS and attended by the PH. The PH would then learn to truly serve their wife and family. But this is not the proper order of things.

  3. Why do these messages always seem to focus on women and their choices? Aside from husbands being told that their wives are their greatest possession, are they told they need to limit their career choices for their families?

    And what about LDS fathers being encouraged to stay home with their children if that’s what makes sense for their families? I do know that there are fathers who stay home (there’s one couple in my grandmother’s ward) but it seems far less common AND is never extolled from the pulpit.

    This is one of those issues that I feel strongly about – and I know I disagree with many active LDS about. My prediction is that there will be a change in these policies in the next twenty – thirty years.

  4. I wish I could be as sanguine about the prospect, aerin, but I think this is an area where the church is, and has been retrenching for a couple of decades at least now. Because the mormon system is based in male dominance (and I mean that in an absolutely literal sense–not a kinky one–where power and authority is held by males) if they loosen up on that distinction and those power structures and go for peer or partnership type marriages as the ideal and the mandate, then the hierarchical “architecture,” if you will, of the church itself is undermined. I long ago lost hope that they would do anything progressive in this area from an official, from-the-pulpit point of view. I don’t mean to minimize the lifting of the priesthood ban but that was–if you’ll excuse the term–simply integrating the boy’s club. It’s still a boy’s club. It can’t be anything else and not risk the whole thing falling apart. New wine in old bottles and all that.

    (And before anyone jumps in here and starts in about their own personal “marriage of equals” please don’t–YYMV, but the church from an institutional point of view and despite the spin, does NOT promote this kind of marriage.)

  5. Belaja, I agree. It will never be Marriage of Equals in the church. So very sad – I think it is particularly sad how women uphold this very repressive system (ie Sister Beck, who I consider a traitor to her sex). Reminds me of the women in some muslim countries who are the enforcers of female genital mutilation.

  6. Because the mormon system is based in male dominance (and I mean that in an absolutely literal sense–not a kinky one–where power and authority is held by males) if they loosen up on that distinction and those power structures and go for peer or partnership type marriages as the ideal and the mandate, then the hierarchical “architecture,” if you will, of the church itself is undermined.

    I think this is true. It also means that the bretheren can’t just suddenly have a “revelation” that gay marriage is okay because it would undermine their core beliefs about divine and eternal gender roles.

  7. Thank you for your responses. Ironically enough, I believe the most recent “revelation” known as the Proclamation of the Family wiped out years of progression for women in the church as it had the audacity to so narrowly define their scope and purpose, reducing both mortal and immortal roles down to gender. Obviously, Craig, homosexuals were the first on that particular cutting block. Because that proclamation is so recent, it makes us easier to interpret current advice given by church leadership. Sister Beck may say “be all you can be” but that being can only exist within certain limits. It reminds me of the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days where the main character does a great job on her article and her boss at the end of the story brings her in and tells her she can write whatever she wants now, she has earned that freedom. But that freedom is only as wide as the scope of the magazine, unfortunately. Her freedom has earned her the right to choose between shoes and hair fashions and hygiene…….and not the politics or relgion pieces she desires and is capable of writing.

    So to me it is an underlying insult for the church to insist women fill only certain roles, particularly as they are capable of having such a wide range of contribution and skills they can perform. For the benefit of everyone, including the church!

  8. My time is short but I think both men and women are being repressed by defining the roles of each. The difference is that if you are a good role abiding man then you get to be take on more priesthood responsibility; you move up from being a pawn to a bishop…YIPPEE! It is odd b cuz you may have a woman who is born w/ and has an executive like personality and would be most beneficial to society if she were to follow such a path but instead she decides to be a stay at home mom, has 6 kids, sells stuff on ebay, and spends life as a primary teacher. (Is this wrong to do, generally, no but specifically to this women’s situation, yes.) Then a man who is more inclined to the creative and fine arts and probably would never have a large salary but realizing he could never make enough to have 4-8 children decides instead to pursue a degree in business, has 6 kids, and becomes a bishop despite not wanting anymore responsibilities on top of his Monday-Fridaho job. Both this man and this woman probably end up battling scrupulous-religious-guilt laden-depression throughout their life all because they denied who they really were and thought they were fighting off the “natural man.”

    Although men are women are different there are so many overlapping attributes and characteristics that it is almost silly to define for everyone what is the right way…the right way is relative to the individual.

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