Valerie Hudson’s take on Taylor Petrey: A Misogynist in Sheep’s Clothing?

Homosexuality Women

Today I read some articles by Valerie Hudson, a Mormon feminist and ex-BYU Poly Sci professor who’s written on interesting topics like the relationship of gender equality to state security. Here at MSP, we talked about her here.

Back in 2009, she created some hubbub regarding the “real teleos” of marriage: its gender complementarity as an argument against same-sex marriage. She argued that the national anti-same-sex marriage campaign is failing because it’s lead by patriarchal men who focus on reproduction, when the real reason to support traditional marriage is its gender complementarity, and its supposed results: “democracy, freedom, prosperity, and other goods such as state peacefulness [to] continue to have strong root and be sustainable” (as quoted from this article of hers). Her version of Mormon feminism strikes me as simultaneously esoteric and widespread, which is a paradox, I know. There’s plenty of critique out there of her, which I won’t get into that here.

The reason I bring her up now is because I noticed that she’s recently written an article in response to Taylor Petrey’s recent Dialogue article “Toward A Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology.” In his article, he critiqued her notion of same-sex relationships as “gender apartheid.” Speaking of gender apartheid, she notes that, regarding the reception of his article,

Interestingly, the commentary on Petreys article has overwhelmingly been penned by men. Searching for response on Dialogues website for the Petrey article, I can find no letters to the editor written by women. Similarly, at By Common Consent, the commentators [on his article] are almost all male, though there are a few blogs where the issue has been enjoined by women. I find this noteworthy, because I believe that Petreys vision is a veiled attempt at the erasure of women in LDS theology, reminiscent of what French philosopher Sylviane Agacinski calls the nostalgia for the one in philosophy.

I think she’s right there is an androcentrism on the question of gayness in the Church. From the official GAs to gay Mormon organizations, there are primarily men at the highest levels speaking about human sexuality and gender roles. This creates a tension that needs to be explored, explained, worked through and hopefully toppled. Toward a lesbian Mormon theology, anyone?

But regarding the content of Petrey’s article, Hudson says that his philosophy basically renders femaleness absent, the female body as devoid of meaning, female ideas about motherhood obsolete, etc — by employing the philosophy of gender theorist Judith Butler (who Hudson doesn’t note explicitly, which is noteworthy). She labels Petrey’s essay “occult misogyny.”

Here’s a couple quotes from Hudson’s piece, regarding this supposed “misogyny”:

No doubt he would also argue that his vision is meant to be emancipatory for women, constrained as they truly are by unjustifiably narrow cultural gender roles across the world. However, as a woman, I believe Petrey deceives himself and his readers. When I read Petreys essay, I see a different bottom line: Women are no longer necessary for the Plan of Happiness to obtain. Women are no longer necessary for temple sealings to take place. Women are no longer necessary for the work of the gods in the eternities, or for there to be brought forth spirit children: indeed, there need not be a Heavenly Mother, or, for that matter, earthly mothers. Women are dispensable in Petreys rethinking of LDS doctrine.

Does reproduction in the afterlife require male and female parents? Petreys take on this is that the organization of intelligences does not necessarily require reproductive organs (109). He asks, must we imagine that male gods deposit sperm in the bodies of female gods (who menstruate monthly when they are not pregnant), that the pregnant female god gestates spirit embryos for nine months and then gives birth to spirit bodies? (109) Maternity, you see, is absurd. Menstruation is absurd; pregnancy is absurd; birth is absurd. Why, we are asked to consider, would gods choose to do any of these things? Petreys unspoken assumption here is that there is no value in these things; indeed, these bodily activities are in some way contemptible and beneath what it means to be a god.

Hmm…

Petrey’s intent, as I read it, was to ask whether Mormons must necessarily understand Earthly reproduction as Heavenly reproduction so as to continue to discriminate against same-sex relationships and gay parenting. Is Hudson twisting his words toward her own heterosexist ends, or is there truly a misogyny here to address?

(Sorry in advance if this post assumes a lot of previous reading!)

72 thoughts on “Valerie Hudson’s take on Taylor Petrey: A Misogynist in Sheep’s Clothing?

  1. tagging for the discussion.

    I had a few thoughts about Hudson’s article (but not enough to make a coherent post), but I wanted to see what others thought about it first.

  2. I’ve only skimmed the article for now, but have a couple of thoughts:
    – Her point is valid that, given the current status-quo, Mormonism embracing same gender marriages would negatively impact the status of women. If same-sex marriages were embraced within the Mormon community before, say, women were allowed to hold the Priesthood, you could end up in the situation where the leadership council was not only all-male, but that their households were entirely all male.
    – I find her defence of “husbands presiding” as not being hierarchical ridiculously weak. She cherry picked a quote that portrays the role of “presiding” as much weaker than it often plays out in Mormon households. If presiding is truly just being “accountable for growth and happiness in his marriage”, then it is a meaningless label unless one asserts that those who don’t preside in a marriage _aren’t_ accountable. It ignores the implicit role of the Priesthood within the home as establishing a hierarchy, which is a bit disingenuous as the Church could largely drop every reference to the language of “presiding” in the home and not change the dynamic because of the dual-standard established at Church by way of the Priesthood.

    I find her article to be quite disappointing–I am actually somewhat inclined to support at least some of the premise of her opinion, since, while I do disagree with her thesis in general (I believe that same-sex couples should be accepted within the Mormon community and believe that in all things, including Priesthood, women should have access the same institutions and opportunities as men), I do so not out of a “gender is irrelevant / socially constructed” standpoint, but rather out of a viewpoint that gender is very important, which is why we need the diversity of viewpoints and experiences that equality brings.

  3. Followup comment. I do think there is some validity to her point on the impact of the absurdity of women’s bodies in Petrey’s paper. As much as feminists often attack the concept of the role in women in the afterlife (the eternal womb, etc…), the Mormon idea of womanhood as a godly, eternal ideal and modelled after a Heavenly Mother has done a lot to soften the misogynistic tendencies in patriarchal organizations. While there certainly are problems with the treatment of women in Mormonism, women do have a much better experience than they’ve often had in many conservative Christian institutions. In conservative Christian theology, the introduction of Motherhood as godly provides a barrier against reducing women to “evils and necessary evils”–sources of sexual temptation and children, as Christianity has and continues to do from time to time.

    So, while technically speaking her point isn’t very valid, I do find that there is much good in Mormonism that is a result of the doctrine of the divine feminine. On the other hand, there is also much bad as a result as well, but that is probably off-topic.

  4. I find her article to be quite disappointingI am actually somewhat inclined to support at least some of the premise of her opinion, since, while I do disagree with her thesis in general (I believe that same-sex couples should be accepted within the Mormon community and believe that in all things, including Priesthood, women should have access the same institutions and opportunities as men), I do so not out of a gender is irrelevant / socially constructed standpoint, but rather out of a viewpoint that gender is very important, which is why we need the diversity of viewpoints and experiences that equality brings.

    This is well-stated. I think the main mistake Petrey made is that he kinda “universalized” Judith Butler’s conception of gender, as opposed to “historicizing” it and setting it alongside Mormonism, which he does historicize. This opens him up to criticism like this idea of “nostalgia for the one” — that a man is trying to write out Mormon women — but honestly I think Hudson is using the charge of misogyny to take focus off her own heterosexism. From what I’ve read from her, one would think she’s never considered women who hold similar womanist philosophies as herself, but just happen to also be lesbian and would take major offense to her application of said philosophy to write out complementarity between two women.

    women do have a much better experience than theyve often had in many conservative Christian institutions

    Eh, I don’t really agree with the premise that, “without Heavenly Mother, things would be worse.” Plenty of Christian faiths that have no female divine have developed to ordain women and many accept same-sex marriages. The correlation between a faith having female divinity and its treatment of women is not clear, since female divinity can and has been imagined in patriarchal ways.

  5. Oh, but on this point:

    Her point is valid that, given the current status-quo, Mormonism embracing same gender marriages would negatively impact the status of women. If same-sex marriages were embraced within the Mormon community before, say, women were allowed to hold the Priesthood, you could end up in the situation where the leadership council was not only all-male, but that their households were entirely all male

    Hudson (I’m pretty sure) does not support ordaining women.

  6. Alan
    I don’t think a lesbian Mormon theology is possible, because all women are an “eternal womb” no matter how you pretty up the job description.
    Mormonism has defied the Y-chromosome. Genghis Khan has nothing on Abraham when it comes to seed. Abrahams’s sands of the sea righteous Y-chromosome descendents get to populate their own planets. How cool is that.
    I’m of the house of Ephraim, but have a X-chromosome so I don’t count. My mitochondria are very bitter.
    The misogyny I see is in insisting that a reproductive strategy that evolved on earth and is evolving, is the one true method of reproducing for all time and eternity and then codifying that into law.
    Whether I am a lesbian, is in Mormonism of no importance. What matters is who my eggs are sealed to.

  7. Suzanne, when I was writing my essay for Dialogue, in one of the notes, I had written:

    […] The proclamation sustained the LDS view that women are
    urged to become mothers who are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children […]

    The copyeditor corrected this to

    […] The proclamation sustained the LDS view that women/mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children […]

    The point being that Mormonism simply assumes motherhood/fatherhood are inherent in women and men before saying what forms they should take. The basic premise about same-sex desire is that, in the eternities, it’s gone — not because it’s “sinful,” per se, but because it’s simply unnecessary.

    So, yeah, I agree that in official Mormonism you being a lesbian is of no importance, but there are plenty of voices working against this, I think.

  8. The idea that all blood, and pain and messiness of life is “filthy, contemptible, and to be eradicated at all costs as soon as possible is a common theme I encounter among secularists.

    And it’s frankly the ugliest and most repulsive part of their worldview. It’s a flat denial of life in favor of sterile homogeneity.

  9. Not sure what thatinsightoffers to this particular thread, Seth.

    It does make clear that Seth bases his ideas of his opponents on intentionally ridiculous cartoon figures that bear little resemblance to real people, which makes his critiques ridiculous in turn. It’s useful to have that fact made explicit.

  10. Alan
    Did you talk to the copy editor?
    Some people think the the best way to get to Kansas is to click your heels together three times and say”There’s no place like home” and no amount of reasoning will convince them oz is a fictional place.
    Hudson, as I read it, projects a fictional biology and sexuality onto eternity and then criticizes modern biology because it doesn’t match her projection.
    It’s like someone reading a paper on Aurignacian culture and the meaning of the Venus of Hohle Fels and flutes to humans then and now, and they dismiss the whole thing because there was no death before the fall. And everyone knows harps are the musical instrument that’s played in heaven, so forget meaningless flutes.
    Proclaiming ” Petrey is indeed the son of Plato and the heir of Augustine, wrapping misogyny in a beautiful cloak, this time of post-genderism.” and ignoring modern science is me fundamentally flawed. It could very well be also intentionally dishonest.
    There a few whoppers in her paper that had me howling. I howled so loud, my neighbors could of called 911. Take this statement,–“Of course, marriage is a harder row to hoe than the issue of race, as Church members are sealed in the temple only by heterosexual parentage. ” Hello, I was a legal adult in 1978. I remember when certain people because of race were excluded from sealing ordinances.
    Then there’s this, ” But Petrey has simply misunderstood what preside means, which is not uncommon in our faith community.” What could you say to person who writes this nonsense. Especially when they have in the past been called on it in places like FMH. (a blog she conveniently ignores in favor of By Common Consent.) At this point, I’m inclined to think it’s gone past misunderstanding preside, to deliberately lying in order to strengthen her position. A practice not uncommon in our faith community.

    Hudson weaves an elaborate cloak of misogyny to place on other’s shoulders, yet she fails to look at what she is wearing.

  11. Here’s Hudson use of the word “preside”:

    Though Petrey claims, ‘Mormon models of kinship, both past and present, displace and replace the biological and the sexual relationship as markers of kinship’ (119), this is a narrow, masculinist view. The temple sealings are meant, in the first place, to include men rightfully into kinship with those they have not borne in their body. These sealings are meant, in a sense, to ratify what was done by women in the sacrament of sexual union in marriage and in the female-presided ordinances of pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation.

    My understanding was that Petrey was talking about things like how an adopted child can be sealed to his or her non-bio parents, which means that Mormon kinship is not always based on biological reproduction. It just seems like Hudson is twisting so much of what Petrey says in order to give herself room to toss in Agacinski quotes she likes.

    Really, Hudson’s stance can be summarized in this Agacinski quote, I think:

    It is in the impossibility of being both father and mother that individuals encounter their own limits, come up against their desire for self-sufficiency, and must assume their sexual identities. Mixity is a value that is as much fundamental, universal, and ethical as it is biological. . . . The desire to neutralize the very principle of mans double origin will have serious ethical and cultural consequences.

    One of the attempted “neutralizations,” I would argue, was men’s intentional limiting of women to particular roles based around reproduction and the home.

    Must Heavenly Mother be a Hestia-like goddess (minus Hestia’s virginity)? Why can’t Heavenly Mother also be like Hera, Athena and/or Artemis? Hudson seems to be making a lot of assumptions about a deity, about Whom very little is known.

  12. OK, I read as much as I could of Hudson’s very strange piece. It’s just so…weird. I don’t think it’s necessary to read Petrey’s piece to realize that Hudson herself is guilty of very great misogyny, as Suzanne points out. To argue that

    He makes our General Authorities look like raving feminists next to him (and I am prepared to argue that our General Authorities are indeed feminists, though they dont do much raving)because to our General Authorities, women are indispensable to all that is or aspires to be divine.

    is just nuts. Admitting that women are biologically necessary to procreating a subsequent generation in no way, shape or form means that the men who make that admission necessarily consider women equal in intelligence or capacities or deserving of the same rights, privileges and powers as men.

    The fact that she hinges her entire argument on the biological indespensibility of women in the LDS plan of salvation is no big valorization of women. She is the one who makes women into instruments. They exist in the plan of salvation not simply because people matter, regardless of their sex, but because PARTICULAR SEXES matter. We women don’t matter because we exist; we matter because without us, the next generation will not exist.

    This is the battle women constantly fight: do we matter as individuals with inalienable rights and hopes and intelligences, or do we matter as tools for procreation? Hudson comes down on the side of the latter.

    Thanks, but no.

    Hudson’s piece did remind me of a 15-year-old essay in Sunstone I came across a while back: “The Genesis of Gender, Or Why Mother in Heaven Can’t Save You” by Carrie Miles: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/106-16-26.pdf

    I didn’t bother to reread it, just skimmed a few of the points I highlighted:

    Men’s competitive advantage against women in the workplace, then, comes not from their greater physical strength, but from their ability to marry women. No wonder the feminist movement became so strongly associated with lesbianism.

    and

    But when children are not valuable economic assets, the optimal behavior for the producers of children — women — changes. With the decline of children’s economic value, many of women’s traditional functions have become luxuries rather than necessities (consider, for example, the stereotype of the housewife at home eating bonbons and watching soap operas)…. The women’s movement — the undoing of rational norms of the traditional world — was the response to [the ennui described in The Feminist Mystique by Betty Friedan], not its cause. Feminism did not cause the breakdown of the family. The breakdown of the family caused feminism.

    that last bit helps explain the current drive on the far right to roll back access to contraception if not outlaw it outright.

    (eta: Hudson’s piece reminded me of Miles’s essay not because of their similarities but because of the Miles’s title and conclusion: heavenly mother is indeed not enough to save women from misogynist and sexist theology and practices in the LDS church.)

  13. Holly @16:

    The fact that she hinges her entire argument on the biological indespensibility of women in the LDS plan of salvation is no big valorization of women. She is the one who makes women into instruments.

    It’s unclear to me what precisely she believes in relation to women’s roles. She herself has been a professor for over 25 years, and her philosopher of choice, Sylviane Agacinski, was an originator of a bill in France to amend the Constitution of France to include a phrase stating: “The law will encourage equal access for women and men to political life and elected posts.”

    There is something “deeper” going on here when she talks about gender complementarity. After you read the next few passages, let me know if you’ve ever encountered this kind of thinking before…

    So, in an earlier essay she lays out various permutations of gender-differentiated societies, and seems to asserting a fear that same-sex marriage is the first step toward literal femicide (like what happens in China):

    Both females and males — independent of one another — purchase offspring from the labor of still other females (through provision of eggs, womb rentals, etc.) Assuming a strong state capable of preventing physical coercion of females by males, men and women need not have anything to do with one another for any reason, including reproduction.

    Equality is thus obtained through non-interaction of the sexes in private life (for interaction would produce inequality), and government regulation of interaction in public life. Society, then, becomes more a federation of two species than a true human collective.

    [At] some future point when artificial reproductive technologies have sufficiently progressed, it will no longer be necessary to obtain eggs and the services of wombs from living females. In such a context, there will be no need to perpetuate a vulnerable (read inferior) human half, and so it will be unnecessary to produce females at all. Equality would be obtained by blotting out that sex which would be inevitably consigned to inferiority. Males and females need not have anything to do with one another because there are no more females: this neatly solves the problem of gender equality.

    Her answer to the above apocalyptic scenario:

    There is, of course, another possible arrangement, fraught with peril at every step and incredibly vulnerable to the winds of cultural selection. One male and one female commit to live together for the rest of their lives, forsaking all others, conceiving and raising their biological children together, supporting each other without remuneration in all needs, and committing to do so in a context of unfeigned love, fidelity, equal voice, and respect.

    It is hardly conceivable that such a plan would work. It is the most audacious and radical social engineering plan to promote gender equality that could ever be imagined. The failure rate would be significant, with many such individual arrangements falling back into some other scheme … But if such arrangements of companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage thrived, this would be no pale imitation or obvious counterfeit of gender equality that we have heretofore found. This would be the real walk of gender equality.

    OMIGOD. I don’t even know what to say.

    Edit: Here’s her conclusion:

    Women everywhere have the most to lose if companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage is no longer an ideal anywhere on earth, but merely one form of gender arrangement among all others. If women, especially those in societies where companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage is currently an ideal that is increasingly contested, do not speak up — if companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage is not understood by women as the feminist issue upon which all others stand or fall — woman may never again have the voice to reclaim companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage.

  14. Alan points out that as an argument against gay marriage, VH writes

    Both females and males independent of one another purchase offspring from the labor of still other females (through provision of eggs, womb rentals, etc.)

    Right. Cuz no lesbian ever wants to give birth to a child herself. you know how those anti-real-woman gay women are: they want kids they can indoctrinate, but ain’t a one of ’em, EVER, with an interest in pregnancy, childbirth, or nursing. If a woman wants to conceive a baby any possible way but having sex with the kid’s daddy cuz she just LOVES him, then she can’t possibly actually be really truly interested in REAL motherhood or REAL mothering.

    Males and females need not have anything to do with one another because there are no more females: this neatly solves the problem of gender equality.

    Yep. Cuz gay marriage means that straight people won’t actually LIKE each other any more. Straight men won’t want real women around to fall in love with (if they’re nice guys) or have sex with regularly (if they’re not so nice) or even seduce and abandon (if they’re assholes). Straight men will be DELIGHTED to have a woman-free world!

    if companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage is not understood by women as the feminist issue upon which all others stand or fall woman may never again have the voice to reclaim companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage.

    WHAT?

    OMG–she’s just crazy.

    To answer your question: i have never in my life read anything on this topic quite so paranoid and nonsensical and just plain deeply, deeply strange.

    I will simply add that I found men much less trustworthy and likable when I was an active Mormon than I did when I left the church. Part of it had to do with certain unpleasant traits Mormon men frequently exhibit; part of it had to do with Mormon cultural norms; part of it had to do with Mormon theology (which had a large role in shaping the first two problems). These passages remind me of the view of men and gender that was conveyed to me as an active Mormon. As little as Valerie Hudson thinks of women, it’s astonishing that she thinks even less of men. It makes sense only with the LDS-inflected antagonistic, utilitarian view of sex and relationships she espouses in her crazy attempted take-down of Petrey.

  15. Then theres this, But Petrey has simply misunderstood what preside means, which is not uncommon in our faith community. What could you say to person who writes this nonsense. Especially when they have in the past been called on it in places like FMH. (a blog she conveniently ignores in favor of By Common Consent.)

    “Preside” is a conveniently ambiguous term that doesn’t have a simple, clear definition in a Mormon context. So, yeah, misunderstanding it is probably not merely uncommon in a Mormon community, it’s probably inevitable.

    If you’d like to understand what preside means to Mormons, I’d definitely recommend stopping by fMh and also the Exponent. Plus see the extensive and insightful discussion of it on Zelophehad’s Daughters: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

  16. chanson
    Another term lacking a clear, simple definition in a Mormon context is equality.
    There’s ambiguity and then there’s a sub-culture having the complete opposite meaning of the word than the dominant culture. And when it’s people who have been educated in that dominant culture, propagating the opposite meaning in their own subculture, I think it is deliberate. And any misunderstanding is intentional. Particularly when it directed toward those who lack power.

  17. About a day after I made my comment it occurred to me the eradication of all individuality and un-equality isn’t a uniquely secularist theme. The ugly paradigm also finds it’s home in religious strains of thought. Fundamentalist strains of atheism and theism in particular.

  18. Also, it should be noted that while the concept of equality makes for expedient politics, it makes for dismally awful theology.

  19. I don’t have any empirical data on what heaven is like and whether in such a place the stars, planets and moons are giving light to each other.
    Say what you want about Kolob and the Kokaubeam, but it bears no relationship to any observable phenomenon. And it’s dismally awful theology that insists on a universe based on early 19th century astronomy and ignores modern science.
    And what’s even worse, is to take concepts that are ignorant of modern biology and claim them as eternal. And then take those concepts and make them law.
    Not only is that dismally awful theology to push, it’s dismally awful law.

  20. genderless homogenized heaven

    Are you suggesting it’s “homogenized” because it’s “genderless?”

    I’ve never quite understood why accommodating same-sex relationships equates in some people’s minds with “genderlessness.” It doesn’t even make sense, because it couldn’t be a “same-sex relationship” unless it’s gendered.

    In terms of homogeneity, two men or two women can be TOTALLY different from one another, while a man and a woman can be basically clones with different genitalia. So, I don’t understand what you mean there, either.

    Anyway, I don’t recall Petrey talking about a genderless or a homogenized Heaven — only him asking questions about what it means for there to be gender in Heaven. For example, if hetero reproduction in marriage is divine because it mimics the set-up of the Heavenly Parents, well, how exactly do Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother reproduce? Is Heavenly Mother perpetually pregnant? Interestingly, Hudson ended her quote of Petrey right before he posed this question, in order to support her claim that he thinks motherhood/female anatomy is “absurd.”

  21. SEth @22

    Also, it should be noted that while the concept of equality makes for expedient politics, it makes for dismally awful theology.

    Wow. The smug assurance of privilege and primacy that statement reveals is pretty astonishing, even for Seth.

    INequality makes for a pretty dismally awfully theology for those who spend all eternity subordinate by divine decree, and for those who actually value justice.

    But it’s good to have it revealed that Seth doesn’t value it, and doesn’t think LDS theology offers it.

  22. I love how Seth is so anxious to trash Petrey (whose essay I really wonder if he read?) that he also throws Paul and his theology under the bus:

    For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christs, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:26-29

    Here most people think it’s beautiful and affirming, and it is one of the cornerstones of Christianity, but Seth dismisses it as “dismally awful theology.”

    go figure.

  23. Alan, I don’t think the concept of eternal pregnancy or morning sickness makes any sense even in a faithful Mormon paradigm.

    First off – you’re dealing with spirits, not bodies. So there’s nothing physical to be pregnant with in the first place. Secondly, Joseph Smith and other Mormon figures pointed out that spirits themselves are eternal. Other figures like Brigham Young may have posited spirit element and other concepts, but Joseph Smith seems to have been of the opinion that the spirit forms themselves were eternal – making the process of becoming spirit children of our heavenly parents more one of adoption than gestation. Which is what I feel myself.

    You have to posit independent spirit entities to some extent – entities that can choose the relationship. The LDS idea of agency leads to it naturally.

    On another point, I reject your notion that there is anyone out there who is “basically a clone of each other.” Any criteria you would posit to assert that claim would be completely subjective, and only dealing with part of the whole picture.

    Besides I wasn’t talking about personality difference in the first place. Though I suppose there are people who would ultimately like that smoothed over as well.

  24. Suzanne, I would be interested in an exact quote where Hudson makes the biology literally eternal. And if you provide such a quote – exactly why it is objectionable.

    As for the astronomy bit – I saw it all as a perfectly serviceable symbolic rendering of the cosmos. Nor do I particularly see anything inconsistent with what we know of modern cosmology and the account read with some degree of literalness.

  25. Seth,

    As soon as you try to separate the propagation of spirit children away from gestation and childbirth, I think you run into all of the stuff that Hudson is criticizing Petrey for (as well as all of the stuff that Petrey has proposed are possible when you get away from such a model.)

    Perhaps “morning sickness” doesn’t make sense from a faithful Mormon paradigm, but I think Hudson’s contention is that to say that “eternal pregnancy” or “morning sickness” doesn’t make sense from a faithful Mormon paradigm is a distinctively anti-woman, anti-feminist move that only a man — who “sees the workings of the female body as utterly devoid of meaning and thus completely dispensable”. That is exactly what I take Hudson as referring to when she says:

    Maternity, you see, is absurd. Menstruation is absurd; pregnancy is absurd; birth is absurd. Why, we are asked to consider, would gods choose to do any of these things? Petreys unspoken assumption here is that there is no value in these things; indeed, these bodily activities are in some way contemptible and beneath what it means to be a god. This, of course, is the classic fallen masculinist view of womens bodies: they are dirty, they are polluting; they are inconvenient; they are messy; they are constraining. Why would anyone in their right mind want the physical experience of female anatomy?

    But not so for women who know. Women who know know that:

    “To carry a spirit, or a spirit and body, under ones heart, to nourish it from ones own breast, to have ones babys cells coursing through ones veins as well as ones own, is no simple physical activity, but the representation and incarnation of the most exquisite understanding of divine love.”

    Note here that it’s not just “spirit and body” she’s talking about…spirits are also carried under one’s heart, nourished from one’s own breast, and so on.

  26. Andrew, do you think that Hudson was actually trying to say that these exact biological processes will obtain in the eternities?

  27. It seems to me rather that she was trying to preserve a sense of sacred in the physical connection and posit a physical connection in the eternities – but the precise details, she did not lay out.

  28. re 32,

    Seth,

    I have to admit that I find Hudson’s framework entirely too foreign for me to begin to understand, but in short, yes. If I wanted to hedge, I would say that perhaps it doesn’t involve those “exact” biological processes, but biological processes of pregnancy, embodiment, birth…yeah. She appears to take a very spiritual sort of pride or ownership of those biological processes and to assert the necessity of those processes in establishing not only eternal sexual difference but also eternal sexual worth and value.

    If women do not have a motherhood that is tied intrinsically to the way their bodies are, then it seems that they do not have anything with which to be complementary (and necessary) to men with the priesthood.

    How do you see Hudson’s comments instead?

  29. re 33,

    Seth,

    To update my question from 34 with what you said in 33, I would ask: what “physical connection in the eternities” would suffice?

    In order for her sexual complementarity to work, it seems to me like it would still REQUIRE wombs, gestation, etc., And why not? As Hudson says, these things are not “absurd” as men might so often think.

  30. Seth @29:

    I reject your notion that there is anyone out there who is basically a clone of each other. Any criteria you would posit to assert that claim would be completely subjective, and only dealing with part of the whole picture.

    I reject your notion that theological approval of same-sex relationships must automatically mean Heaven is “genderless” and “homogenized.” It’s similar to Hudson’s claim that Petrey is inadvertently “erasing” Heavenly Mother. It only makes sense if a person is extremely homophobic and refuses to use their imagination.

  31. Alan, where did I even bring up same sex marriage in the first place?

    Read through the thread and find the spot.

  32. re 37,

    Seth,

    You’re not making any sense…why did you bring up same sex marriage in the first place in 37?????????

    In comment 24, you summarize the reason for posting extremely bizarre, seemingly off-topic comments in this discussion following:

    It seemed relevant to the genderless homogenized heaven Petrey was pushing.

    But here’s Alan’s point. Petrey isn’t pushing a genderless homogenized heaven. Petrey’s article is “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology,” not “Toward a Genderless Homogenized Mormon heaven” where AT BEST, a “post-heterosexual Mormon theology” allows us to talk about whether homosexual relationships can be accepted.

    So, we are left with your comment either being

    a) extremely bizarre and off-topic

    OR

    b) somehow making a statement that what Petrey is ACTUALLY talking about (e.g., “post-heterosexual Mormon theology” equates or correlates to creating “a genderless homogenized heaven.”

    Alan, as per 36, takes your comment as being one made in good faith by going via option (b) rather than option (a). And he responds by challenging the idea that a theology that can approve of same-sex relationships is genderless and homogenized.

    But I mean, if we should take your comment via option (a), then that’s fine. it’s just…bizarre. Like, what is this i don’t even…

  33. I’ve had arguments on SSM before, I wasn’t in the market for another one.

    I felt that Petrey’s arguments were relevant to a larger trend than simply SSM.

  34. I felt that Petreys arguments were relevant to a larger trend than simply SSM.

    Though you haven’t really succeeded in explaining how this larger trend you claim to see is relevant to the topic at hand.

    and if you’d bothered to read Petrey’s argument before you started trashing it, you’d have realized that your position on a topic or two–for instance, you statement that “I dont think the concept of eternal pregnancy or morning sickness makes any sense even in a faithful Mormon paradigm”–is actually aligned with Petrey’s argument.

    In fact, given that you “dont think the concept of eternal pregnancy or morning sickness makes any sense even in a faithful Mormon paradigm,” you’d be just as guilty as Petrey in Hudson’s view of “the idea that all blood, and pain and messiness of life is ‘filthy, contemptible, and to be eradicated at all costs.”

    So are we to understand that that is really YOU in that little cartoon clip you linked to?

  35. First off youre dealing with spirits, not bodies. So theres nothing physical to be pregnant with in the first place.

    Spirits are physical in Mormonism:
    “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.” — D&C 131:7-8

    Anyway, as long as we’re talking about “isms,” Hudson’s ideas seem possibly ageist to me. Or, to put it another way, I wonder if she values only the reproductive part of the female life cycle.

    If menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth are such essential characteristics of Woman (and of a Woman god), what of menopausal women? Are they no longer women? Is menopause a brokenness to be repaired in the afterlife? If a woman prefers her menopausal life to her reproductive years (as some certainly do) will she be forced to return to childbearing?

  36. Alright kuri, fair point.

    But until we can really explain how this “refined” physicality actual feels and interacts aren’t we still back at the same place?

  37. If spirit is matter, then it remains at least theoretically possible to be physically pregnant with spirits. Seems like a completely different place from “nothing physical to be pregnant with in the first place” to me.

  38. Furthermore, it would kinda really be up on you, Seth, to provide some alternative way for refined physicality to work, if it doesn’t work pretty much the same way normal physicality does.

    Especially when the “default” understanding to all of this is kinda “as above, so below,” if you will — we don’t have reason to suspect that things will be different up there (especially not when following Hudson’s reasoning) UNLESS you can specifically provide some alternatives.

    You seem to want to DODGE DODGE DODGE this point.

    Going back to Holly’s comment, though. This:

    …if youd bothered to read Petreys argument before you started trashing it, youd have realized that your position on a topic or twofor instance, you statement that I dont think the concept of eternal pregnancy or morning sickness makes any sense even in a faithful Mormon paradigmis actually aligned with Petreys argument.

    In fact, given that you dont think the concept of eternal pregnancy or morning sickness makes any sense even in a faithful Mormon paradigm, youd be just as guilty as Petrey in Hudsons view of the idea that all blood, and pain and messiness of life is filthy, contemptible, and to be eradicated at all costs.

    is DEFINITELY spot on.

  39. Well, you’re still talking about matter so refined that the negatives that people typically attach to pregnancy when they are trying to demean the concept of spirit children seem highly unlikely to obtain. Especially when combined with the theology of heaven being a place free from much of the travails of mortality.

    So yes – I would say we are still back in the same spot.

  40. Most of the time the things Seth says makes little sense to me, but Dr. Hudson is bold and clear in her position, and there is little room for misinterpretation. As she has said in another article : The LDS Church teaches me, that Heavenly Father is not an eternal bachelor; he is married to our Heavenly Mother. I now understand there cannot be godhood without men and women being together in an eternal relationship. In fact, the LDS Church teaches me that the one whos an eternal bachelor is Satanand that is both a sign of and a punishment for his rebellion.(She misses an opportunity here to resurrect the teaching by some of the earlier Brethren that Jesus was surely married.) Continuing she says, Women readers, your breasts, your womb, your ovaries, are not unclean cursings; they are blessings. And the Restored Gospel also teaches me that I will be married forever, and that I will have children forever, and that the life of being a woman married to my sweetheart and having children forever is the life that will bring me the fullest joy in the eternitiesas it has here on earth.
    Having read a number of her articles I am of the opinion that the fullness of her joy also includes her explication of ideas about the hereafter that if not unknown to everyone else, are vague even in the only true and living church.

  41. Seth @46

    So yes I would say we are still back in the same spot.

    And that spot is in agreement with Petrey’s argument.

    How on earth could you miss that? And why did you trash Petrey for a position you hold? Was it because you didn’t read a word Petrey wrote, had a knee-jerk reaction to the term “Post-Heterosexual” and had to find some way to belittle and insult the strawman Petrey therefore instantly became for you, and were so blinded by your ire that you couldn’t even grasp the implications of Hudson’s response to him?

    Andrew @45

    You seem to want to DODGE DODGE DODGE this point.

    This is indeed Seth’s standard MO on MSP. See also the current discussion on the Book of Abraham, where he is trying to dodge the point that the spiritual and moral leaders of God’s one and only true church might be held to higher standards of truth and honesty than the average lousy jor or jane or lying corporation, and trying to insist that the content of the Book of Abraham, a canonized book of LDS scripture, isn’t really that important. http://mainstreetplaza.com/2012/08/28/and-the-book-of-abraham-is-de-canonized/

    Given that his comments on that thread are a defense of dodging as a moral activity for the church to engage both because everyone is doing it and because you’ll look bad if you admit you lied or were wrong in the first place, it’s hardly surprising that he would do it here.

    After all, dodging is indeed one of the skills people learn from and see validated by the LDS church. Striving for coherence and cultivating integrity are not.

  42. Oh–and this, Seth, @46

    Especially when combined with the theology of heaven being a place free from much of the travails of mortality.

    it’s another example of what you described as “the idea that all blood, and pain and messiness of life is ‘filthy, contemptible, and to be eradicated at all costs as soon as possible.”

    Do you admit that’ it’s “the ugliest and most repulsive part of [your] worldview” and “a flat denial of life in favor of sterile homogeneity,” which is what you called it when OTHER people (i.e., Petrey) advance the idea that “heaven [is] a place free from much of the travails of mortality”?

  43. Andrew, I’ve pretty much been ignoring Holly’s comments for the last few months and not reading them. So if you have an idea you think is worthwhile, I will be happy to try and engage you on it.

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