Why It’s Tough to be a Mormon Man

by: hawkgrrrl

July 2, 2013

Let the skirmish of the sexes continue.

A lot of posts in the bloggernacle focus on the difficulties of being a woman in a church (and society) that has sexist and patriarchal norms.  What about the ways in which that culture is difficult for men?  Feminists acknowledge that men are harmed and limited by these same systems, albeit in different ways than women are.  In Golden Rule fashion, I thought I’d take a little time to brainstorm on what our brothers in the gospel experience, just as I want them to understand things from a woman’s perspective.

  1. Men are expected to be the sole financial supporter.  They are also told repeatedly that they must treat their dependent wives as equals and ease the more difficult burden women bear by helping out equally at home.  Just as women may feel reduced to only their physical attributes and fertility, men may feel reduced to their earning potential.  The reductionist thinking associated with role prescription cuts both ways.
  2. SAHDs and single or divorced Dads are persona non grata.  Even men who are secondary earners may feel like they are viewed as deficient in a Mormon context, and yet, within the US, 38% of wives out-earn their husbands.  And yet, in my experience, Mormon men are some of the most nurturing males on the planet, second only to seahorses.  Despite this, because of the heavy role prescription, Mormon men may be ill prepared to transition to the full time caregiver requirements associated with joint custody agreements in the wake of divorce.  As one divorced male Mormon put it:  “In divorce a lot of time men are assumed to be at fault. He didn’t treat his wife well enough, or he had an affair.  This goes hand in hand with what men in the church are perpetually told…that we married “up.”  That our wives had to stoop down to accept us and that we need to be grateful for this. I had several bishops tell me this (not my current one who saw my ex’s behavior first hand).  I had one bishop tell me that I ought not to complain about my wife’s faults because it was likely those faults that made it possible for her to eventually marry me.”
  3. Church volunteerism expectations with a career.  While wives with high-powered careers are typically not called to demanding roles like presidents of auxiliaries, because most men have careers no such reprieve is given to them.  The high demand of their time on church activities often reduces quality of life, including the amount of time men are able to spend with their children.  This expectation was just raised again with the missionary program changes.
  4. Men are expected to take initiative.  Whether it’s regarding asking girls out on dates, asking them to dance, proposing marriage, or taking the lead in meetings in the church, even introverted men are expected to take charge, even if they are not suited to this expectation.  This can leave some men feeling stressed out or anxious, and it can also result in social ostracism and judgment from women in dating situations when a man is not comfortable being the one to initiate, and the women have been told that it is the man’s responsibility.  While these expectations are shifting in society, social norms in the church remain planted in the traditional expectation that men do the asking and men run the meetings.  Women who go outside these norms may be viewed as bossy or undesirable.
  5. Cryers wanted.  We expect men to adhere to social norms of the 1950s but with a twist:  they have to be comfortable with crying in front of an entire congregation of their fellow Mormons as a sign of their spirituality.  We want our men to be emotional and fully domesticated while acting macho.  That’s a pretty tall order.  Fortunately, they see it modeled frequently.
  6. Men are shut out from the “nurture structure.”  While men theoretically have access to competitive hierarchical positions (the power structure), men don’t have the peer-based social support structures that women do in the church (the nurture structure).  Our awesome expat ward here in Singapore has instituted a male social support structure in creating weekly “menrichment” activities so that men whose families have left for the summer still have support in the ward.  They go to movies, dinner, museums, or participate in sports together.  Even so, men are seldom asked about their mental well being, how their marriages are, or their personal happiness.  Additionally, men who care for children find themselves shut out of the female organized nurture structure.  They are not invited to play groups, and husbands may feel threatened if they become too involved in the child-centric activities with the other “mothers” in the ward.
  7. Bad lessons / indifferent teachers.  Relief Society teachers are hard core.  They prepare the lessons far in advance with a lot of forethought, and often a table display and crafty handout.  Contrast the lessons I get in Relief Society every week with those same lessons in a typical Elder’s Quorum.  Often, the men are basically phoning it in, having class members read straight from the manual.  More coma-inducing than thought provoking.
  8. Pressure to marry.  As tough as it is for single women in the church, I suspect it’s even tougher for unmarried men who are often stigmatized and ostracized.  If they don’t marry young, they are accused of porn addiction and Peter Pan syndrome (being perpetual adolescents).  And it’s acceptable for the women to be single if they haven’t been asked; it’s not acceptable for the men to be single as they are responsible to ask.  The divorced of both sexes can also feel stigmatized, but in many cases, divorced men lack the social network to rebound within the organization.
  9. Worthiness objectification.  Many women in the church will only date or marry RMs.  They objectify based on being a return missionary without themselves being one.  They feel entitled to someone who is “worthy” by those standards.  Just as women may feel objectified for their looks or youth, men may be viewed as interchangeable so long as they are temple worthy, not known for who they are.
  10. Pressures of the organization.  As part of the Priesthood hierarchy,  men are prone to pressure over missionary numbers, and may feel a push to be promoted from Elders Quorum to High Priests Group.  I have also observed that men are frequently lectured and spoken to in a punitive way whereas sisters are often coddled by male leaders.  In my mission, the elders often caved to the pressure of numbers, whereas the sisters (who were outside the power structure) didn’t and could focus on the work.  To me, that speaks to the power of organizational pressure when you are inside the system rather than outside of it as we sisters were.

First, stop sexism. Then, stop vandalism!

Obviously, men do have certain privileges and entitlements that women don’t have, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to be a Mormon man, and there is a downside to the privileges (just as there is a downside to women being put on a pedestal).  Truth be told, I think the rigid role prescription makes it difficult to be either sex within the church, especially since we do not experience the same rigid structures in daily life.  What do you think?

  • Are there other ways it is difficult to be a man in the church?
  • Are there ways the church could be more supportive of both men and women?
  • What changes would you make?

Discuss.

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29 Responses to Why It’s Tough to be a Mormon Man

  1. Lee on July 2, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    Nope. Being a Mormon man isn’t tough. It’s awesome. Take your proffered whining elsewhere. I reject it.

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  2. Joan on July 2, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    Another way it would be difficult, I think, is having so much weight placed on your blessings for the sick,

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  3. hawkgrrrl on July 2, 2013 at 5:23 AM

    I didn’t even mention all the anti-porn talks aimed at them. Maybe that’s another pressure of the organization.

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  4. DB on July 2, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    Not really big issues, but we’re often viewed as rebellious when we don’t conform to the officially not required white shirt and clean shaven face. Women have much more culturally acceptable freedom to wear what they want to do what they want with their hair. Heaven forbid I wear a stylish dress shirt or allow my God-given whiskers to fully express their grandeur.

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  5. Nick Literski on July 2, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Regarding #8 in the OP, single LDS men who reach their 30s are also accused of being gay, and suspected as a threat to the safety of male youth. A friend of mine in Nauvoo had a real gift with the young men, but the bishop bluntly told him that he was being released from the scouting program, because his age and single status raised “concerns.”

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  6. janet on July 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    DB — Heaven forbid that a woman show up wearing an extra earring, a skirt above the knees, or get precariously close to showing any part of her (GASP!!) shoulder.

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  7. whizzbang on July 2, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    being a divorced man in the church, married and succesful is the name of the game-you are good with God if you have that but if not then you aren’t blessed. It’s a pseudo rich is righteous mentality

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  8. Dave K on July 2, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Thank you so much for this post. It can be a minefield to raise issues of fairness between the genders. But if done in the right tone, it can also be very beneficial to help us understand “the other.” So without suggesting that men have it worse than women in any universal sense, here are some major discouragements I face as a man in the church:

    1) Men are not trusted with children. They are viewed with suspicion that they will rape or otherwise abuse children in their care. Church policy restricts men’s ability to work in primary. Many mothers openly confess that they would not trust a young man to babysit their children.

    2) Men’s time with their children is not protected. Women with children cannot be asked to work in the temple. Men can and often are. Women with children are rarely called to be RS president, but men with children are often called into a bishopric, high counsel, or other significant time commitment. While women with children are sometimes called in leadership positions in Primary and YW, they still interact with their own children in those organizations. Not so with men’s callings, which seem designed to keep men away from children. The problem is compounded by the fact the men are expected to work outside the home. We would never call a full-time working mother to head the RS, Primary, or YW. But a full-time working father of five young children somehow seems like the perfect candidate to be bishop.

    3) Men are expected to cover for other men’s failures to a degree that women are not. If there is a part-member family where the mother is the member, the ward will actively search out ways to substitute men as surrogates for patriarchal functions. But if a father is the active member, the ward sort of assumes that he will still run the family.

    4) It is much more acceptable for men to assume traditional women’s functions than vice-versa. Everyone smiles when a man takes the baby to change a diaper. No one objects to the comment “men are great nurturers.” But mention that it is good when women preside and provide and world war III erupts. Some of this is due to men who do not trust women. But most of it is due to women who don’t want the responsibilities they expect their husbands and sons to take.

    5) Men have fewer options for choosing their own path in life. Men are expected to serve missions; women not so. Men must study a field that will support a family; women not so. When the children leave home, men must still work a job that pays the bills. Women are more likely to find a pursuit that personally fulfills them regardless of pay.

    6) Disciplinary councils for women involve the bishopric. Disciplinary councils for men who hold the MP involve the stake presidency and high council. I’ve sat in both. They are entirely different environments. For women, it is more of a personal discussion. For men it is more of a trial, with half the high council assigned to represent the member and half to represent the church.

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  9. Jack Hughes on July 2, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    Amen, Hawk.
    At one time or another, I have experienced almost all of the above. Another one you missed (or perhaps a root cause) is the general conflation of priesthood and manhood. As if one needs the priesthood to be good husband/father; I’m certain we all know non-member men who are outstanding dads, and I have seen plenty of supposedly righteous LDS men who mistreat/patronize/neglect/abuse/abandon their families, so that argument does not hold up with me.

    Since so much of the LDS program is gender-segregated, we tend to let gender divisions creep into otherwise gender-neutral aspects of our culture, like with social activities. It seems we also fall back on 1950s gender stereotypes when we try to justify our separate-but-equal roles (“women are better nurturers, men are better workers, etc.”). The frustration felt by modern Mormon men, I believe, arises from the growing disparity between old-school cultural expectations and changing contemporary expectations. As a stay-at-home dad, I feel a lot of pressure from individual church members (and the Church in general) to abandon my nurturing duties and go back to work; meanwhile, my wife (who has much greater earning power than I do) is made to feel like a mediocre mother instead of the successful career-oriented woman she is.

    Consider the rising suicide rate among working-age men:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/whats-driving-the-rise-in-suicide-among-middle-aged-men/275792/

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  10. Jeff Spector on July 2, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    I was waiting for someone to bring up the 1950s stereotype argument. Its much more complex than that, I think. We expect women to complain, we demand that men do not.

    Having the Priesthood doesn’t guarantee a man anything. Except a tons of expectations, which not all can meet. As Hawk has seen me write. Being man does not mean he has anymore chance of high Church calling than a woman. yes, the potential exists, but the likelihood is equally as low.

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  11. Edgar on July 2, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    I agree with much of this post. However, I feel it important to point out that SOME of the blame for the negative experiences listed lies with men themselves. Some Mormon men LIKE their wives to be dependent. Some Mormon men USE their calling as an excuse NOT to engage with their family. Some Mormon men ENJOY working the 60 and 80 hours a week required to be both a bishop and a successful worker. So for some men, the LDS Church is a perfect fit. Not so for everyone. Does that mean the Church has to change? I’m not so sure. I think men should start by looking at themselves and say “Am I living the kind of life I should with respect to spouse and family?” , by caring for their children at other times and places besides the church foyer during sacrament meeting, by rejecting Mormon stereotypes and crying in front of their family instead of during testimony meeting, by putting more energy and thought into the priesthood lessons they are preparing (however leave the crocheted tablecloths at home).

    And, in the interest of self disclosure, I am a man and need to work on all these things to one degree or another.

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  12. Douglas on July 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    I’ll say it again: Where the devil were you circa 1996-2000? “HawkGuy” is lucky that you have a understanding and candor of what it’s like to be an LDS male. It’s refreshing that SOMEONE on the distaff side understands us.

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  13. Anon for Now on July 2, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    The overarching message of LDS priesthood is that introverts, severe depression sufferers, and those with other mental health challenges need not apply. Priesthood duties, as currently constituted, consist of a series of rigid obligations and programs that must be carried out in an identical manner by all persons. Unfortunately, the “approved” pattern is designed to resonate exclusively with those who thrive in extroverted roles. The occasional priesthood holder who finds it an unbearable mental burden to carry out the endless home teaching/leadership/meetings/meetings/moremeetings and related endless minutia is simply told he has a character flaw and to get with the program and do what everyone else is doing.

    A recent church publication on mental health issues is a vast improvement over earlier attitudes. Church leaders are advised to accommodate members with these afflictions in a manner that enables them to serve. For example, a member challenged with a pathological fear of speaking in public should be encouraged to help out in other ways. Attempting to “cure” the person by simply pushing him or her into the fearful situation is not a sound course either scientifically or charitably.

    However, no such accommodation is available in the priesthood context. From experience, I can say that the brother performing a reduced or alternative role is told that the accommodation is strictly a temporary measure and that he must soon bring his performance up to the standard of “everybody else” or his salvation is in jeopardy. The OATH AND COVENANT OF THE PRIESTHOOD(TM) demands strict obedience to and acceptance of all duties of every kind, at the peril of one’s salvation. As the years go by and the sufferer becomes the grayest fellow in Elder’s Quorum (when he can bear to go), the temptation becomes almost unbearable to simply chuck it all and go home. Many men suffering from various forms of mental distress are sick of the judgment and the hierarchy and just quit coming. Attempts at reactivation (if they occur at all) are exclusively centered around getting the person to come back and be like “everybody else.” As one local leader once said in a talk, “If you only serve partway, you only get partway to heaven.” In the mind of a severe depression sufferer, such a statement immediately prompts the following mental corollary: “Then why serve at all? Since I don’t have the strength to do enough, then damnation at level 6 is not really that much worse than damnation at level 3.

    If the church could accept that many people want to serve, but need to do so outside the usual leadership/teaching structure (while still retaining their hope of the highest salvation), more men would be happily serving.

    By the way, I pray that Lee’s response in #1 was meant to be sarcastic. If not, it is the most unintentionally hilarious response to a bloggernacle post I’ve heard in quite a while. Ha! Being a man in the church is awesome! And not tough at all! Anybody who struggles with it should just take his whining elsewhere. After all, I’ve got ninety and nine of my fellow priesthood brothers right here backing me up on this. You wandering whiners out in the wilderness need to man up and come back here where the Savior is!

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  14. Rigel Hawthorne on July 2, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    “Even so, men are seldom asked about their mental well being, how their marriages are, or their personal happiness.”

    I’m much more likely to confide this information with non-member friends than members. Maybe it’s just that I tend to make more close friendships with work colleagues and they happen to be non-members. On the other hand, I remember jogging with a non-mo friend who asked me how life changed with the first child born and I briefly mentioned the challenge of finding time for sex (oh for the days when there was JUST one child). I haven’t had ward friends that I could even imagine having that conversation with. It’s just different when you see the person you had that conversation with in Priesthood Meeting, Ward Council, as a Priesthood leader, or as a Home Teacher. With non-Mo friends, you never assume you will see those people in that altered setting. You could liken it, in some ways, like that old joke that you never invite just one Mormon friend to go fishing with you because he will drink all your beer. Well, I don’t drink beer, but I would feel more free to discuss my marriage, personal happiness etc if there wasn’t a fellow ward member on the fishing trip.

    If I have done buddy activities (racquetball, hiking, jogging), it again, has been with non-mo work friends–at least since leaving YSA. Part of this is because my wife is my best friend, and if we have free time, we prefer to spend it together. Part of this is that it seems that buddy time between married LDS men seems to be viewed as ‘idle time’, unless it is spent in the course of doing a church calling. Otherwise, rather than being idle, one should be spending time with their family or doing their calling. And going back to Nick’s comment, if you prefer to spend too much buddy time with a married LDS guy, then there might be ‘concerns’.

    I remember giving a Priesthood lesson once on the Young Women’s theme of “individual worth” and the discussion went to the implication that men don’t need lessons on individual worth because it is assumed that they are all confident and self assured. While men probably realize that the implication is not true, the “face” that it is true is probably worn because there are other priorities that have precedence culturally. And this may not be merely and LDS thing.

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  15. whizzbang on July 2, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    @14-do you subscribe to the worlds are colliding theory of George Costanza?! I do and I know exactley what you mean! also, anyone would need a lesson or two after reading the book “Miracle if you can be Forgiven”

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  16. Becky Linford on July 2, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    My husband Kirk Linford & I co-chaired the short-lived series of Sunstone Symposiums in Chicago in the early ’90s & sponsored what I believe was the only plenary session on this topic in any public dorum

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  17. Becky Linford on July 2, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    (Sorry about the previous unfinished comment.) session was “What Do Mormon Men Want?” where panelists (all men) discussed these & similar issues, making some constructive suggestions about ways of ameliorating men’s plight in the Church. I remember thinking that men weren’t as accustomed to recognizing that priesthood offices’ demands on time weren’t really very good for anyone: the men, women, children OR the “families” as entities either.

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  18. Douglas on July 2, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    #13 and #14 – a very corporate culture has taken over in the PH, hence why “defective units” are shunted aside. Never mind that it DOES seem contrary to what the Lord would have, i.e., bear each other’s burdens, etc. Oh, sure, a brother with “issues” can go to his bishop, and will readily get a referral to LDS Family Services. But AMEN to that brother’s chances of being called to a position of significant responsibility. I don’t think it’s that Brethren in high positions are uncaring and unfeeling, in fact, I’d say quite the opposite. Most of them simply don’t have the TIME to adequately fulfill their callings, sustain their marriages (which should be first regardless), support their families, and engage in their respective professions, and that so many manage to do as well as they do is a tribute to the incredible blessings. It’s all they can do to deal with unwed mothers, dear sisters with their own unique problems, disintegrating families, and like it or not, brethren get left sucking hind teat.
    I wish that I had a ready solution to deal with this, but I confess my own frustrations and inadequacies. I don’t need a special calling to focus less on my own troubles (which preoccupation typically won’t solve in due time anyway) and to reach out to those that cry out for help. Just having a testimony of the Gospel suffices, and if the Priesthood is relevant to render service, then I’m glad to have it so I can further serve.
    As long as I can kick back with one of Mel Brooks’ works at the end of the day to have a few yucks in my life…life is too short not to laugh.

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  19. JRM on July 3, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Thank you for bringing up this issue. I participate in the bloggernaccle mainly through my wife sending stuff for me to read. Often the posts are related to women’s issues, and often men and/or priesthood are a major part of the problem. It’s nice to have someone notice that its not a cakewalk for us males, even with the built in perks of being a LDS man.

    Three issues stress me out the most in our culture. First, the #1 issue on your list is mine– being a sole provider is stressful. On top of paying the current bills, I want to help my kids through college. Then there’s retirement to worry about…if the next 20 years go as fast as the last 20, I may never be able to step off the treadmill.

    Second, and I know this not gender specific, it would be nice be acknowledged for what I do bring to the table. I’m the gray haired one in elders quorum. I’m not a dynamic speaker, I’m an average home teacher, my parenting and spouse skills aren’t as good as they should be, I can teach a good lesson (I prepare!), but don’t have the testimony or desire for leadership positions. But I show up for service projects, I reach out to guys for “dude activities” and sometimes ask how they are doing instead of just talking about the movie/game. I still feel invisible sometimes, like no one appreciates my efforts.

    Third, with our patriarchal religious culture, even though my wife and I don’t fit that mold, it feels like I’m responsible for everything that goes wrong with the family. Like I’m the first floor of the building and if I have any weakness or faults the whole thing will fall. These are the things I worry about on bad days. Luckily for me I have many more good days.

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  20. Douglas on July 3, 2013 at 2:29 AM

    #9 – It’s not just the “marry only an RM”, which MIGHT have some application to a 20 y.o. (it increases the likelihood but certainly does NOT guarantee that her prospective husband will live the Gospel), it’s the attitude among SOME women (doesn’t seem to be HawkChick’s affliction) to presume to judge how a man “bears his Priesthood”, when they themselves have no idea what it’s about nor have similar experience. We men, OTOH, are admonished to overlook the faults of our wives (an attitude which I generally agree with but should not be construed as an excuse to behave like an utter bitch) and be supportive of them in their weaknesses. It’s that one-sidedness that can be infuriating.
    Still, life isn’t always fair, and I’m at peace with that. Would you, given the opportunity, “switch sides”, if it were possible? No matter what the downside, I prefer to be what Heavenly Father intends me to become, and see life’s “unfairness” as challenges to overcome, not excuses to grouse.

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  21. jks on July 3, 2013 at 2:53 AM

    As a happily married woman, I agree. While my husband and I are fairly content with our traditional roles, it doesn’t mean it is easy. We have specialized so he makes the money in our family, but it is at a job he doesn’t particularly like and it is stressful. As his wife, I love him and I notice this so I try to pick up the slack at home. He is definitely more involved in spending time with his kids than our parents generation, and he spends more time on housework than his dad (but his dad did nothing). The fact is that we need him to support the family and I contribute by trying to make the rest of his life happier.
    Our kids are 5-15. When he gets home I am happy if he isn’t a jerk to the kids. If he accomplishes that (he does, with effort) and I know he is doing his best to get by at work, then I can do my best here at home and not resent it if he doesn’t do dishes because he is emotionally spent.
    When it comes to a calling, my husband has his first time intensive calling. Honestly, it has been a blessing for our family. I remember the years he was addicted to Everquest and then World of Warcraft. I much prefer his bishopric calling!!! Our family can function with him doing either church service or RPG, but with RPGs whenever he wasn’t playing he wished he was. With his calling he is always happy to be done and back with us. Wow, I still shudder when I think of those years. And a part of him still misses those days, although he loves his family.
    I support him putting his career ahead of his calling when necessary. But I know he gets pressure from others when he has to put work ahead of his calling.
    No one at church is going to talk about stuff as guys. But my husband doesn’t want to anyway. If he is unhappy, he just thinks there is no point to talking. If he talks with me, he does get a benefit because I understand him better and I am a better wife to him because I feel closer to him so he benefits indirectly only, he doesn’t actually feel better by talking. I’m sure some men do, but since many don’t it isn’t part of the culture.
    My husband grew up in the church so the Mormon crying if talking about the gospel or how much you love your family has been totally modeled and he does it. Gotta love it!!!
    My husband has always disliked lessons. I’m quite sure that more prepared lessons have never helped. He just doesn’t particularly like going to church. He just feels tortured sitting there. Definitely a perk of the bishopric or nursery callings.
    To be honest, I think sometimes he does church things because he knows he needs to meet a standard to be worthy to be my husband. Perhaps this is objectifying. I have worked on being able to love who he really is even when he fails to live up to my standards, not just who I need him to be. It is extremely difficult, though, because I am raising children with this guy and I wince sometimes at what kind of example he is in things that are important to me. I find it interesting that he does see that he needs to be certain things to deserve me, and I am apparently a prize for him that he has won (problematic as a femimist to be an object/prize for a man). As a dynamic it could get pretty difficult, but on the other hand it must work to some extent. If he needs this dynamic to help him not say the f word in front of our kids or to scale back on racially inappropriate jokes or not fantasize about sex with a hot woman on the street, etc. I hesitate to argue against this dynamic that works well for us (especially since he seems to be willing to view me as a prize that is intelligent and has opinions–not just for sexual pleasure). I am a person, not some guy’s prize but it is also important to me that my husband wants to be a good person and cares about being a good husband and father. Do I want to rip away his motivation? No, I don’t.
    I don’t get the sports or military tear ‘em down and insult them to make them work harder. I think my husband does respond to it sometimes. The rest of the time no. As I see him try to be a good father to a teenage boy, he is trying to not imitate his father’s harshness too much. I see him try to rise above his history and the dynamics of the past to understand who my son is, with his own unique brain. I see my husband try hard (sometimes failing) to know when to push and when to be gentle when my son is too slow or too ignorant or too incapable of such seemingly simple tasks and problems.
    It is hard to be a Mormon man, but I think you can be a good one even without living all the stereotypes. I think my husband would say being a Mormon man is worth it.
    As a raise my sons, I want them to be good Mormon men. I am raising them to be. I am fully aware of some of these difficulties. Especially for my teenager I wonder, what kind of expectations will his wife have? Will she actually love him or spend her life irritated that he doesn’t live up to something? Am a raising him to be able to withstand the pressures of Mormon male adulthood? Am a raising him to be a part of the culture but see it objectively and be able to withstand the pressures or extremes that can be hurtful?

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  22. Hue Man on July 3, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Have experienced all the issues mentioned to some degree or another. It does seem to get easier the older I get.

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  23. dp on July 3, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    for those who have commented and who have read this blog post, you might be interested in the “greater dialogue” that occurs in the ‘manosphere’. i regularly read dalrock (http://dalrock.wordpress.com/), but there are other blogs out there documenting the impacts and trends in this post-feminist world.

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  24. Hue Man on July 3, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Where are all the real Mormon men? Over at fMh weeding their garden getting rid of patriarchy manure (sort of referred to as B S) from the soil of humanity.

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  25. hawkgrrrl on July 3, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    dp – I actually think you are misdiagnosing the root cause if you are saying it’s post-feminism. These things impact men in any man-centric org, whether women in that org are empowered or not.

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  26. Holly on July 4, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    Great article and thread. I’m surprised no one has mentioned much about missions. The mental and emotional strain placed on young men for the consummate expectation to go and the utter ostracizing if they don’t (or heaven forbid come home early) has GOT to be rough.

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  27. Ziff on July 5, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Really interesting post, Hawkgrrrl. From your list, and issues Dave K. brought up, three that hit me the hardest are:

    1) Pressure to provide. I used to worry about this constantly as a teenager, and I figured I wouldn’t ever marry or have kids, since I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to provide even for myself, let alone a family.

    2) Mission. I never would have gone if there hadn’t been so much social pressure to go. I wasn’t a very good missionary. I was (am) too introverted, and didn’t handle the stress of having mission leaders scream at me well at all.

    3) Not being trusted with kids. I don’t know that this is so much a Mormon thing as it is an American thing. I love kids. I think they’re a ton of fun to talk to because it’s fascinating to see how they are figuring the world out, and they have more sense of fun and humor (or at least my type of humor) than adults do. Plus, I think it’s great when kids feel like they’re being taken seriously, when so often I think they aren’t (not that it’s always practical to take them completely seriously, but I think in some cases we could do it more than we do). Anyway, in spite of this, I always feel the suspicion of people around me if I show the slightest interest in kids, so mostly I don’t unless it’s with people I know really well. Sometimes I might be imagining people being suspicious, but I think other times it’s real.

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  28. alyssag on July 20, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    Dear poster and all those of you who feel similarly,
    All of those things may feel like a burden, but I fear you are mistaking what the lord expects of you with what you think church members expect of you. I do not wish to go into detail on every item, but I felt the need to respond. I have just a few things I would like to share with you. First is regarding “marrying up” it is not that the lord or others favor one spouse over the other. Many married men say that they married up because in a strong and lasting relationship both wife and husband learn from each other and see good that they did not understand before being married. I’m sure if you ask any of the wives of these men, those ladies would say that they were the ones that married up.
    As for being single, it is a pressure on all single adults to get married. But can you blame our leaders pushing marriage when the family is the foundation and purpose of our church. I often felt frustrated from the pressure as a single with every lesson reminding me what I have not achieved. My bishop even approached me on the matter, pointing out my age. I am a woman, and I was not just single because I wasn’t asked. But I did not take offense, for I know gods plan and understand it is difficult and long.
    Last is regarding serving others, providing, caring for your family and everything else you feel the pressure to do. I can assure you that nobody is perfect and god does not expect you to be perfect. But he does expect you to try your best, to seek help instead of complain. Balancing all of these things seems impossible. I personally am terrible at it and have trouble in most of these areas. That aside, I know that overtime the perfect balance can be accomplished. I know this because I have seen it. My father has spent his whole live providing for his wife and 10 children. All the while he also served many taxing callings, including bishop, high council, stake young men’s president etc. Even with all of this, he found time to make breakfast and dinner every day to eat with his family, and attended and supported all of my and my siblings practices and events. In addition to that he not only visited those on his home teaching list, but served them with all that he had. I remember assisting him with a washer repair and lawn mowing for a woman in our ward. He was obviously tired, but he did not complain. You may think he is rare or lucky or born perfect, but his life is not far different from anyone else. He converted in his teens, so the family support was not there. He dealt with the death of his son, injuries of other children, being laid of after 9-11 and all of the daily hardships that we all face. What makes him the man that I look up to is 2 main things… 1. He always put the lords opinion and expectations above the worlds. 2. He never stopped trying.

    seeing your posting made me a bit sad. Please do not feel sorry for yourself, life is hard. Please do not feel blame, pressure, accusations, disapproval of others…they are imperfect, just like me and you. Being Mormon isn’t about fitting in at church, every church I’ve been to people have looked down on me…but I still know that they are good people. I choose not to live up to their expectations, but try to live up to the lords. I will keep making mistakes but I won’t stop trying. I know that the gospel is true.
    -thank you if you read this…hopefully not with anger, but with understanding.

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  29. hawkgrrrl on July 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    alyssag – you seem to have missed that the author (I wrote this) is a woman, not a man. Therefore the author is expressing empathy, not throwing a pity party, feeling offended or complaining. I only want to add that there is a real Mormon tendency to blame folks who don’t bear their burdens lightly, which is sometimes defined as never talking about issues. If issues aren’t discussed, the alternative is passive aggression. One point of the internet is to find support networks. Support networks provide empathy, validation, advice, and friendship in the face of difficulty. Identifying and discussing those difficulties is psychologically healthy.

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