The World is Sexist, Part 1: Inherited Sexism

By: hawkgrrrl
October 26, 2010

“The world is sexist, but there are no new sexists being born.”  This idea from a friend helped me to understand the disparity between living in a culture that was created based on sexist assumptions and the actual rare encounter with people who are openly and unabashedly sexist.  In this post, I’d like to explore the environmental sexism of the world rather than sexism that is created and perpetuated by living and breathing sexists.  Even if there were no new sexists being born (a gal can dream), we would still live in a sexist world.  Why?

In a series of two consecutive posts, I’ll discuss two reasons sexism continues:  1) a world designed by sexists, and 2) biological foundations for sexism.  Today’s focus is on the first.

Inherited Sexism

Because previous generations restricted the roles of women through social constructs, the world is in some ways inherently unfriendly toward women’s interests.  For example, women entering the workplace generally need to adjust to male preferences to be successful.  Professionalism is defined by the limited range of emotions men are comfortable expressing, requests for flexible work schedules are viewed suspiciously or seen as a sign of a lack of commitment, and women still experience lower pay than peers for the same jobs.  Because of the environment, many women opt out or deliberately downgrade their career, reinforcing the perception of a glass ceiling.

For men & women, this inherited problem manifests in a few negative ways:

  • War Between the Sexes.  Strife between men & women is the most obvious natural byproduct.
    • Men vs. Women.  Men unwittingly (or wittingly) reinforce the inherited sexism that benefits them and limits women when they do not understand issues from a female perspective.  And honestly, how can men understand issues from a woman’s perspective without experiencing life through that lens?  We often call this “male unexamined privilege.”  Even a man who is not otherwise inherently sexist can inadvertently reinforce stereotypes that are advantageous to men and limiting to women.
    • Women vs. Men.  Disenfranchised women can become so angry with the existing culture that they can no longer bear any correction or criticism from males (in authority or not) or they may become paranoid about the motives of all men, indicting all for the crimes of some.
  • Wars Within the Sexes.
    • Men vs. Men.  In a patriarchal society, men who don’t conform to male-dominated stereotypes are often disparaged or disenfranchised.  For example, a man who chooses to be a SAHD or to downgrade his career may be viewed as “less of a man.”  As societal norms shift, early adopters have the most to lose.
    • Women vs. Women.  Women who adapt and succeed in a male-dominated world can be viewed with suspicion by women who do not adapt or who do not wish to adapt.  And women who conform to female stereotypes can also feel disenfranchised by their peers who are attempting to change norms.

So, how do we solve these inherited problems?  Here are my suggestions.

  1. Identify the socially constructed sexism.  This includes things like (in the workplace) pay inequities, work environment issues, hiring practices, etc.  Generally, this means looking at things from a female perspective to spot the disadvantages.  In the church, this might include things like assumptions about female skills and interests, which assignments and callings women are allowed to perform, and how female perspectives are considered.  On the flipside, the existing social construct also has some inherent disadvantages to men.  This is often overlooked but also needs to be identified.  So this should also include how men who don’t fit the “norm” are viewed:  single dads, the divorced, SAHDs with career wives, the perpetually single, etc.
  2. Examine the unexamined privilege.  This is the opposite of #1.  In addition to seeing how it hurts women, we have to look at how the inherited environment is an undeserved advantage to men.  On the flipside, the existing social construct also has some inherent advantages to women.  This is often overlooked.
  3. Be self-critical of gender requests that benefit us personally.  We should examine our rationale whenever we place restrictions on others that limit them to our benefit.  Making demands on others is always a slippery slope.

With these solutions, the tricky part is going far enough and not going too far to address the issues.  Basically, we need to do all of the above consistently and thoughtfully.

How does the church do at identifying and countering socially constructed sexism?  How does the church do at examining unexamined privilege?  Because of basic gospel teachings, my hopes are high for overcoming the sexist environment in general (barring local sexist leadership), with a few weak areas:

  • High level leadership.  The church is a gerontocracy, meaning social norms of the past will be harder for individual leaders to question and overcome.  And not only is church leadership male-dominated due to an all-male priesthood, but even women’s roles are limited in scope and carry time limits.  Still, assuming church leaders feel beholden to Christ’s teachings, the gospel itself will keep these human tendencies largely in check, even if individuals make statements that sound out of touch and sexist.
  • Local leaders.  Within the church, local leaders have a lot of autonomy in addressing issues, and we have a lay clergy.  Provided those individuals do not abuse their power and try to understand women’s issues, this works as well as can be expected.  The best bet is for local leaders to seek out the guidance of women in their wards and to partner with them to meet the needs of their congregation.
  • Female voice.  Revelation, correlation, leadership, ward council, women’s issues:  all of these are overseen by an all-male priesthood.  Female perspectives are unlikely to be understood if female voices are not sought or are dismissed as being less important.  Revelation is received as a response to a question.  If men are asking all the questions that result in revelations that are binding for the church, female perspectives can’t help but be overlooked.  Men simply don’t ask the same questions women would ask.  It would be unrealistic to expect that they would.  YW and other lesson manuals are frequently written from a male perspective and can be irrelevant to the YW.

Basically, there’s a lot of room for local variation which can be good or bad.  Given that the oversight at the highest levels is from the perspective of decades-old norms, it’s unlikely that much correction will be made if local leaders mistreat women or underrepresent female viewpoints, unless that mistreatment also meets the standards for mistreatment that our grandparents would recognize (e.g. domestic abuse, failure to provide financial support, sexual abuse).  Most of what we consider to be sexism today (being patronizing, not listening to women, limiting women’s roles) would have been remarkably enlightened 50 years ago (seriously, just watch some old movies if you doubt this).

What do you think the church does well?  What does it not do well?  Discuss.

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51 Responses to The World is Sexist, Part 1: Inherited Sexism

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 26, 2010 at 5:58 AM

    women’s roles are limited in scope and carry time limits which did not used to be the case. Stake Presidents used to serve a lot longer, we did not retire 70s, etc.

    But there is an effort to not burden people, but to recycle them.

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  2. Andrew S on October 26, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    Many people seem to have read and enjoyed, but no comment.

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  3. Rebecca on October 26, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Great post Hawkgirl.

    Regarding this – “The best bet is for local leaders to seek out the guidance of women in their wards and to partner with them to meet the needs of their congregation.” – Amen.

    There has been a move in recent years to have women more involved in ward councils. So much of the decision making in a ward does NOT involve priesthood ordinances. It’s good to see more women in these meetings. I do see women who are reluctant to speak up in these meetings. We have to get over that.

    We still have a long way to go in the inclusion of women’s voices in church manuals. Unfortunately, there are very few women’s stories in the scriptures. There’s not much we can do to rectify the past 2000 years. However, I would love to hear more women’s perspectives in our manuals. Surely the last 200 years give us some material to work with.

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  4. Troth Everyman on October 26, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Really like this post.

    “Basically, there’s a lot of room for local variation which can be good or bad.”

    I have seen really good and really bad wards in this regard.

    Although, I would point out that in Temples women are involved in some priesthood ordinances…which is a step in the right direction.

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  5. FireTag on October 26, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    Hawkgrrrl:

    I know you’re trying to do this in a two-step, but I’m having problems separating the institutionalization of sexism from the personal biases I bring as a male. After 33 years of marriage, I’m still from Mars, my wife’s from Venus, and we are often incomprehensible to each other, despite the best of efforts.

    That is true though most of my bosses throughout the years have been women, my wife makes more money than I do now, and my daughter is the High Priest in the family.

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  6. Rebecca on October 26, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    #4 – agreed.

    About the war between the sexes sometimes involving women against women – I’ve seen this too, both in and out of the church.

    In my work life, I had a female department head who had made the decision to work an excess of 50 hours per week while she hired a nanny to take care of her two toddlers. When I had my first child and wanted to work part-time, I found out that she was completely unsympathetic to ANY job sharing or part-time work. She basically told me that if she could do it, so could I. I basically got a “suck if up” speech from my woman boss. I was surprised to find that she was much less flexible than many of the men who managed other departments. I wonder how common this is? I ended up finding another job where I could work fewer hours.

    In the church, women are sometimes the biggest supporters of sexism. I think it’s often a matter of being a fish in the water. We’re immersed in it so we are unaware.

    Also, we need to support each other without judgment. We want others to respect our choices, regardless of what they might be. We are individuals. What works for one person, may not work for another. That’s OK. In fact, it’s great. It’s a big church. There’s room for all of us.

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  7. hawkgrrrl on October 26, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    Firetag: “I’m having problems separating the institutionalization of sexism from the personal biases I bring as a male” I think it’s hard for all of us to identify the sexual constructs. We’ve all been raised on it since we were infants. And we all have our own biased perspectives.

    Rebecca: I too have met women in the workplace who are less flexible than men. Women are sometimes adapting so much that they require the same of all rather than questioning the thing they are adapting to. It’s very hard to overcome that because anyone who wants to move up in the business world is doing a lot of adapting in one way or another, so it’s difficult to separate necessary and good adaptation from stupid adaptation.

    I too have seen that women in the church can be the worst proponents of sexism and often lack perspective on it. But I think part of that is that women receive benefits from it as well. They are not considered accountable or responsible to be able to sustain themselves financially. If they stay in line they are taught they are entitled to a provider and worthy husband. Obviously, if those promises don’t come true, women are loath to blame themselves – instead they blame those individual men who failed them (war between the sexes). They should also consider why they were so eager to sign up for less responsibility. That’s a human tendency. We all want to do X and be guaranteed Y, but life doesn’t really have guarantees like that.

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  8. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 26, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Anyway, I wonder if in many ways an organization doesn’t benefit from having many people who have served in a role. I know a High Priests group with a number of ex-bishops in it is often a stronger group than one with none.

    It used to be bishops were pretty much left to serve forever. Now the calling is rotated. I met a member of the 70 in Texas who had been called in his late 20s to go back to Europe to serve and had served ever since who longed to be rotated.

    I’ve wondered since.

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  9. Troth Everyman on October 26, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    “It’s very hard to overcome that because anyone who wants to move up in the business world is doing a lot of adapting in one way or another, so it’s difficult to separate necessary and good adaptation from stupid adaptation.”

    Yes. There is a constant tension between conforming (and perhaps going against personal values) in order to succeed, and trying to stay an individual and true-to-oneself. I have seen this struggle occur within my wife and many other women close to me.

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  10. Troth Everyman on October 26, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Also, I’ve been a lurker at MM for a while and now at W&T. I hope it’s alright that I am now starting to post and interject my thoughts…?

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  11. Rebecca on October 26, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    #10 You’ve made some interesting points. No fear! ;) I’ve only recently started blogging and commenting as well. Putting my ideas out there for people to give the “thumb down” to feels a bit risky, and I still and get that adrenaline rush every time I hit the post comment button!

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  12. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 26, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    In my opinion the biggest opposition to “women overcoming sexism” is (some,most?) women. That being said, I’ve met some chicks that impressed me.

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  13. Will on October 26, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    Hawkgrrl,

    You lost me with your comments about stay at home Dads. This is one I will never accept. If I knew of anyone that did this I would for sure think of them as feminine or wimpy. Sorry, to me you are not a real man if you are not out providing for your family.

    One of my friends said he didn’t think this would be that bad. We mocked him for months for that comment.

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  14. Rebecca on October 26, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    #13 Will – I know that if my husband wanted to be a SAHD I’d have a hard time with that and I consider myself a feminist. I can’t explain it, but I’m honest enough to admit this to myself. For me it’s kind of like people who say that they aren’t biased. That’s just denial or a lack of introspection. We are all biased. We all have some sexist attitudes too, for good or ill.

    I don’t have any problem with families who find that a reversal of roles works best for them, or for parents who find a flexible home/work balance between partners. I’ve just always wanted to be the primary caregiver to my kids. My husband has always been more career driven, and he can earn a lot more than me. It works for us while we have young kids at home. We’ll reassess down the road.

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  15. Jon Miranda on October 27, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    Feminists are every bit as sexist as men.
    A hard code feminist was bemoaning the fact that IT and enginerring school are male dominated and that something needed to be done. Someone told her that he agreed and thought that nursing school and dental hygeiene school should be a strict 50/50 male feamle quota. She never responded. Another feminist said she would never, ever take her husbands name but if he wanted to take her name that would be okay. It Sweden women love to say that men push the baby buggies while women drive the buses. Feminists dont want eqaulity, they want it all.

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  16. Jon Miranda on October 27, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    Correction
    Engineering
    hygiene
    female
    equality
    In Sweden
    Lots of errors

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  17. Rebecca on October 27, 2010 at 7:21 AM

    Jon – I agree that attempts to bring about equality, particularly in the form of quotas and affirmative action, can have negative effects. For example, when a minority woman gets promoted in the workplace, or gets accepted to an Ivy League school, she has to convince everyone that she really deserves to be there. Knowing that some people are playing by different rules violates a basic sense of Karma. A good Latino friend of mine is also opposed to affirmative action for these same reasons. He really was at the top of the class academically, but people assume that he got where he is because of affirmative action. This doesn’t “affirm” anyone.

    That said, there are all kinds of feminists. If you don’t believe me, just go over to Wikipedia and search Feminism. The broadness of the label, and the wacky people on the fringes, keeps a lot of women (and men!) from identifying as feminist. The same could be said of any movement, even the LDS church.

    The women’s movement has brought about some great things. The women in your life now have a lot of choices. That’s a good thing. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Most of the LDS feminists I know are really nice. You’d like them.

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  18. Rebecca on October 27, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    I don’t want to threadjack this discussion but some of you might enjoy this post and the commentary. There’s an intelligent guy talking about how he has difficulty getting his head around LDS feminism. It’s honest and shows some of the variety of experiences.

    http://www.the-exponent.com/2010/08/10/a-husbands-perspective-on-mormon-feminism/

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  19. mcarp on October 27, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    As a male, my all-time favorite managers at work have been female. Even my worst female managers were better to work for than my best male managers.

    What does that say about me, and should I see a therapist about it? (Just kidding. Kind of.)

    When my older sister was taking a child psychology class for her masters degree, she said that this is a result of being raised by my mother and grandmother. (My parents divorced when I was 6 and my grandfather died when I was 9.) Plus two older (and bossy) sisters.

    With that background, you’d think I would be less sexist than other men. Maybe less, but it certainly isn’t absent in my life, no matter how hard I try.

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  20. hawkgrrrl on October 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Will – thanks for being honest about SAHDs. I want to ask a few more questions about that topic. Where do you draw the line (in your own mind I mean)? Are there some scenarios that are OK?
    - a SAHD who works from home (e.g. a day trader) doing work that is not salaried but lucrative?
    - a SAHD who works from home so that his much higher-earning wife can travel in her job which means that overall, family income is higher?
    - a SAHD who is simply between jobs due to the economy, but living on severance pay for a time while his wife tries to restart her career to help out?
    - a SAHD who early retires, and they don’t need the money, but his wife wants to work or go back to school?
    - a man who works but earns significantly less than his working wife?
    - a man whose job is in a field that is usually female dominated (e.g. nursing, hospice care, massage therapy, artist, schoolteacher)?
    - a man who became disabled and could no longer do the work he was trained to do, but his wife earns plenty to cover the family’s needs?

    Are some of these more palatable versions from your view?

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  21. hawkgrrrl on October 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Rebecca – great link from Exponent. I have met Jessa and Mark, and found it fascinating to hear his perspectives. I don’t think it serves us to beat up on men who “don’t get it” like a few commenters seemed poised to do.

    I’m fascinated by the slow start on the comments on this post. I sometimes forget that a lot of our audience is male. I’m always surprised that men don’t want to discuss sexism. I think it’s important to discuss it in terms that enlighten and question all of our assumptions, not just to push a single agenda that widens the divide further.

    Jon – I agree with you that many feminists are sexist. Actually, I’m inclined to consider us ALL sexist in that our sex informs our biases. I’m for examining assumptions and trying to open our thinking rather than driving a specific outcome.

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  22. diane on October 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    I just had an interesting experience last night while walking my dog Beau. My dog was peeing on a tree on a public sidewalk and this guy came running out screaming at me and calling me names like,”fat Ass,” Yada, Yada, Yada.

    What gets me is that my dog was doing nothing wrong and neither was eye. It was a public sidewalk where the tree was located. He couldn’t claim the property as his.

    How does this relate, well I wonder how eager he would have been if I were male walking a bigger dog. I don’t think he would have felt so comfortable, or for that matter had the balls coming up to me in such a confrontational matter.

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  23. Rebecca on October 27, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    #21 Hawk – You said, “I’m always surprised that men don’t want to discuss sexism.” – It’s the “ism” part that seems to be the buzz kill. ;)

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  24. Caroline on October 27, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    “On the flipside, the existing social construct also has some inherent disadvantages to men.”

    This was brought home to me as I was talking with a male grad student in the humanities. He was saying that the church’s emphasis on men being the sole providers was damaging to him and his prospects for marriage. Most Mormon women he liked were wary of getting involved with a man who would never bring home a huge pay check as a humanities prof. He thought that if there was more openness in church rhetoric to women providing as well, a lot more Mormon men could pursue their not so lucrative professional passions.

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  25. Will on October 27, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Hawk,

    1) a SAHD who works from home (e.g. a day trader) doing work that is not salaried but lucrative?

    Extremely good, but I would change SAHD to Man. My philosophy has always been to find a job where you can make as much money as possible so you can spend as much time with your family as possible. If you can work from home and make a good living great.

    2) – a SAHD who works from home so that his much higher-earning wife can travel in her job which means that overall, family income is higher?

    Again, fine with working at home, but I strongly adhere to the traditional family roles as outlined in the Proclamation on the Family – a Man’s primary roles is to provide and the Woman’s primary role is to raise the kids.

    3) – a SAHD who is simply between jobs due to the economy, but living on severance pay for a time while his wife tries to restart her career to help out?

    See response to #1 and #2

    4) – a SAHD who early retires, and they don’t need the money, but his wife wants to work or go back to school?
    See response to #1 and #2

    5) – a man who works but earns significantly less than his working wife?

    See response to #1 and #2

    6) – a man whose job is in a field that is usually female dominated (e.g. nursing, hospice care, massage therapy, artist, schoolteacher)?

    See response to #1 and #2

    7) – a man who became disabled and could no longer do the work he was trained to do, but his wife earns plenty to cover the family’s needs?

    Do the best to adhere to my responses in #1 and #2, but situations may warrant the wife working outside the home.

    Are some of these more palatable versions from your view?

    See response to #1 and #2

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  26. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 27, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    a man who works but earns significantly less than his working wife?

    So far no one has held that against me. I’m a sr. counsel in a large law deparment (about 600 attorneys) working for a large company. But my wife is a CRNA.

    a man working in a female dominated area (such as CRNAs). So far I haven’t seen anyone who downgraded male CRNAs. In my in-law’s ward, the CRNA (who being rural, makes about twice what an urban CRNA makes) is well regarded. I think it may be more the nature of the specific employment than the field.

    Thinking on Caroline’s comments, I remember when I was tutoring in the English writing lab and they talked about some poor guy in the humanities who went to his girlfriend’s house for Christmas. Her parents had a 3-4 acre estate in Arcadia, California. She expected a similar life style and told him so.

    He was looking at $30k a year as a humanities professor. Not even enough to pay the property tax on a house like that.

    She wanted to marry him, but he suddenly started avoiding her.

    I think there are some real, and hidden issues, in many things.

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  27. hawkgrrrl on October 27, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Will, (please read this with the neutral tone that I intend) it seems that you oppose women working as much as you oppose SAHDs, that women should only work as a necessity, but if it’s a necessity, you want to throw the book at the man for not being financially successful enough. What about women who want to work for personal fulfillment reasons who don’t find staying at home sufficiently compelling? Should “real men” steer clear of them? Are they bad wives & mothers in your view?

    It’s a perfectly valid interpretation of the PoF that women and men are both equally responsible for the family, and that roles should be adapted for individual circumstances. If the woman is better able to provide financially, that can be a valid reason for adaption, IMO. Since women & men in general are equally capable, it’s a fairly common scenario that could occur.

    Caroline – I think your scenario cuts to the heart of the matter. This post actually links nicely with another one that was posted today on this site by Troth Everyman. There’s an unnecessary link in people’s minds between financial success and righteousness. I think it applies to this interpretation of the PoF also. We seem to have an underlying belief that a man who is a SAHD or makes less than his wife is less righteous somehow or less desirable. It’s not right thinking, IMO. Thanks for the great example of it.

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  28. hawkgrrrl on October 27, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Will – let me change this one to see how you feel about it:
    2) – a SAHD who stays home so that his much higher-earning wife can travel in her job which means that overall, family income is higher?

    Does taking away the SAHD’s income in #2 make a difference to your answer? What if he is doing piecemeal work (e.g. seasonal tax preparation or ad hoc installation work)? What if he does unpaid volunteer work while the kids are at school? At what point do you see him as a Man and not a SAHD worthy of your male disapproval?

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  29. Will on October 27, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Hawk,

    I see things from my prospective. I am not opposed to women working as much as I am in favor of them being at home. I think it is where they can best serve the family. I think they are better and nurturing. I believe God intended it to be this way for a reason. I hope I am not stealing words or meaning from President Hinckley, but I will use one of his analogies. When discussing food storage, he indicated it is better to have one barrel of wheat in home storage than five in the Bishop’s storehouse. This is how I view the issue. I see one Mother at home having the same value as five in the work force.

    Again, I judge this from my prospective. I love my mother. To me she is the example of what a mother should be. I see the same thing in my wife. It is one of the reasons I love her as much as I do. Both of them were extremely gifted. Both of them could have had successful careers. In fact, when we first got married my then 19 year old wife was (she turned 20 five days after we were married) was offered a job at the U as a head nurse making twice what I was. She turned it down. She instead planned to stay at home with our son who was born about a year after we were married. My mother devoted her time, talents and energies towards her children. All five boys went on missions. All five boys were married in the Temple. All five boys hold significant leadership positions in the church. In the aggregate, her five sons have assets in excess of 100 million.

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  30. hawkgrrrl on October 27, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Stephen – I wonder if your friend was more right about the marriage than his girlfriend. Entering a relationship with very unequal expectations on the financial side can be a real cause for marital strife.

    Will – I certainly don’t begrudge you your perspective, although I think most women want choice over role clarity. When we honor a woman’s right to choose, we add honor to her sacrifice if she does stay home. When we encourage all women to stay at home, we create future resentment, guilt and heartache if things don’t go well. We also place an undue stress between the sexes as you described for all men to be better than average providers or feel like failures.

    That’s why I am glad the PoF has built in caveats. But I wish it started out being less prescriptive. Children of working mothers also adore their mothers. And some stay-at-home moms are more neglectful and less nurturing than the career moms. Wouldn’t it have been better if Susan Smith had been an office manager instead of a stay-at-home mom? The “duty” mothers have (and fathers) isn’t to stay at home, but to love and nurture our children.

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  31. Will on October 28, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    Hawk,

    I realize most people want choice, not role definition. But if that role definition is provided by a Father who is omniscient, we should take heed. I realize most people won’t recognize or think that role definition is from our Father. That is by design. It is to separate the wheat from the tares. As the Savior said, straight is the way and narrow the gate and few be there that find it.

    All I can do is provide my own testimony, if you will, of the sacred role of a Mother. I am 100 percent confident the success of my siblings; and, the success of our respective children is due to the influence of the Mother. As Fathers, we have the equally important role of making enough money so our spouses can be at home with our children. It is extremely difficult to live on one salary in this world, but usually the difficult paths are the right paths.

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  32. hawkgrrrl on October 28, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Will, I think you should consider how convenient it is that you view your opinions and preferences to be the “will of an omniscient God.” These are things that have benefited you personally and that align with your experience, but the PoF specificially makes allowance for variation in personal circumstances. Your statement would put all those whose personal circumstances lead them to make different choices in the category of “tares.” In today’s economy, personal circumstances vary much more than they ever have before. Your ideal leaves a lot of our Heavenly Father’s daughters reaping consequences for a lack of preparation, education and work experience. Working mothers are capable of loving and nurturing and thereby fulfilling their duties, just as SAHMs are capable of failing to love & nuture. It is not an either/or proposition.

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  33. Will on October 28, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Hawk,

    Not only to I look at it from my prospective, but I have history on my side. People are critical of the role of the traditional family, but look back when our country was thriving. It was thriving when this traditional role was largely being practiced. It was thriving when Mothers (in large part) were at home with their children. In my judgment, this is why are economy is in shambles. We are reaping what we have sown since moving away from the traditional roles.

    We have too many idle rich and idle poor. We have too many kids at home alone playing video games, on the internet or watching TV because both parents are so distracted with work. We have too many kids eating processed foods and destroying their bodies and brains because home cooked meals are a thing of the past. We have too many kids that are dumped in daycare because both parents are at work – kids that are being watched by some disinterested employee making just above minimum wage, instead of by a mother with their well being in mind. We have too many Mothers not there at the crossroads in their children’s lives because they are distracted by work. The question is not how the mother does it; rather, it is how the child does it. The answer is they aren’t and the more we continue down this path, the more we will reap what we have sown.

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  34. AdamF on October 28, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    Will, I agree with a lot of what you said. Also, most daycare facilities are WAY below anything decent, e.g. in terms of ratio of caregivers to kids. Those that are better cost so much that only the rich can afford them anyway. Probably where I would disagree is that I don’t believe it always has to be the mother who is at home. Some fathers are more suited to be at home, and some mothers are more suited to be at work. That is where the individual adaptation comes into play, and I agree with you in my personal experience and values that I want one of us to be home, if possible.

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  35. LovelyLauren on October 28, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    Will, quite frankly, I am disappointed in your lack of empathy, and also your faulty reasoning.

    In any economy, the more people that are working (people, not men) the more businesses can produce, the more money collectively is being made, and therefore, spent. It makes no sense that women in the workforce contributed to today’s economic collapse, particularly since such collapses are somewhat cyclical in nature. If you’d like to blame our current culture for failure in the home, feel free, but to do so for the economy is ludicrous.

    Secondly, it is very easy for you to condemn women who want to work because you have always had the freedom to choose any career you like (although you seem to stress the necessity for such a career to be lucrative). You have never been told that your potential is limited to the four walls of a home. You have never agonized over your ambition versus what you have been told to do by your leaders. Your view of women as homemakers, and nothing else, leaves young women unprepared for the real world and disillusioned when they aren’t married at 23.

    You say, “We have too many Mothers not there at the crossroads in their children’s lives because they are distracted by work.” as if the desire for professional fulfillment is an awful thing. Not to mention that this completely ignores the necessity for many women to work. One salary does not get as far as it used to. These situations are necessary for many families, and in such a statement, you are perpetuating the guilt that many such women feel.

    All you have is anecdotal evidence (of your own wife and mother) so let me offer mine. My mother was a teacher for most of my childhood. She worked 3/4 time when we were very young and full time when we were all in school. Now she works as an assistant principal (with three kids still at home) and to me, she is every thing a mother should be. She has always been there for us, at home and at events. She taught us well and we knew that teaching was important to her. In doing what she loved, my mother taught me a far greater lesson than she ever could have being an unhappy stay-at-home mother.

    ( I would also like to add that temple marriages and missions served are not the mark of good mothering. Tons of fantastic parents have ‘wayward’ children and tons of temple marriages are unsuccessful.)

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  36. LovelyLauren on October 28, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Will, what will you do when your daughter comes to you telling you she wants to be a doctor (or a lawyer or an architect or accountant or whatever) more than anything else in the world? When she tells you about her passion for medicine and how much she wants to go to medical school and become an oncologist and help heal people with cancer?

    Will you tell her that her dreams are a waste of time? That she should give up on them? Can you imagine the hurt in her eyes when you tell her that’s great, but she should work on being a mother instead of pursuing her greatest dream?

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  37. Will on October 28, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    LovelyLauren,

    How much is spent or produced has nothing to do with the decline of our economy. Simply put, and as I mentioned in the sister post on this site, wealth is obtained by spending less than we make and wisely investing the difference. This formula works for an individual, family, community or nation. This is in stark contrast to Washington that spends more than we bring in as a country and finances the difference with China, Japan and Great Britain. It is a recipe for financial disaster. It will be a financial disaster.

    Back to my point, the decline of our society is largely due to the dissolution of traditional family values. It is due to kids being raised by the television, internet and video games. It is due to kids being dumped at daycare. It is due to parents so focused on material things and work they are neglecting our future. Most of the applicants (significantly less than 2007 due to the economy) that come through our door are dumb and lazy and a product of today’s society. As a side note, it is mostly the white kids that can’t hack it, the Hispanics we have working for us work circles around them. They are still hungry. They are willing to put in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. They still have value. They are where Americas kids were at in the 50’s – 80’s.

    The economy is not failing. Marriages are not failing. Parents are failing; and, parents are failing because they are not following the structure outlined by God.

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  38. LovelyLauren on October 28, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Will, an economy has EVERYTHING to do with how much is spent or produced. I don’t know what you’re talking about (maybe failing values systems or society?), but you are not talking about an economy.

    According to merriam-webster dictionary, an economy is a system of interaction and exchange and the definition of a market economy (which is the cause of the global recession) is: a system in which most goods and services are produced and distributed

    Scientifically, the national and global economy is completely ruled by spending. When more people are spending money, more people are making money and there are more jobs on the market. These are basic economic principles you learn in the first weeks on any econ class. China is a wealthy country because they produce an enormous amount of good which are then bought by other countries. It has nothing to do with their values, but with their sheer production capacity. Likewise, the United States was doing very well in the 1990s during the .com boom. According to you, families have been failing since women entered the workforce in the 1960′s and 70′s. How then, do you explain the financial prosperity the United States (and developing world) experienced during the 90s?

    You may be talking about the decline of societal values, or whatever, but you are certainly not talking about the global economic recession. A country’s economy has little to nothing to do with parenting.

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  39. hawkgrrrl on October 28, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Will, I can see that you are not open to the possibility that your views are not 100% correct when it comes to this topic. Still, for our readers, I feel compelled to respond to a few of your statements.

    “Not only to I look at it from my prospective, but I have history on my side” That’s the entire point of this post; we have inherited a world that was created based on sexist notions, so we can’t know what the alternative would have looked like. And history in our sexist world has many, many fail points as well as successes. Go back 50 years (or less) and you will find history littered for thousands of years with women unable to leave abusive marriages due to lack of ability to sustain themselves financially except through prostitution. Heck, go to modern day India and you will find that. Also, the Great Depression occurred when women were at home, and that was a far greater collapse than the current one. Women have always been at home, and the economy has been up and down.

    “In my judgment, this is why are economy is in shambles. We are reaping what we have sown since moving away from the traditional roles.” Part of the problem I cite is that we are not moving away from traditional roles. We are trying to have it both ways, which is not possible. Women can’t have equal opportunity while men retain their privilege. Both have to meet in the middle. But that’s not why the economy is in trouble. That’s due to bad policies and people believing they were worth more financially than they were.

    “It is due to kids being dumped at daycare.” Daycare has taken a beating here, but I’ve experienced both great and bad daycares. It’s very similar to the range of quality of public schools. Good, affordable daycares are out there, IME. There is an upside to daycares also, which is that kids who attend a daycare have significantly better social skills as they enter school(according to educators). Daycare does not absolve parents from nurturing and loving their kids. Kids who go to daycare also feel loved and cherished by their parents. But they also love playing with their peers and they bond with these caregivers as well.

    “We have too many kids eating processed foods and destroying their bodies and brains because home cooked meals are a thing of the past.” And yet life expectancy is double what it was in 1900 when a home-cooked meal was the only option. We seem to be doing just fine in this regard. Eating habits are generally a byproduct of things you learn from your parents, whether a home-cooked meal is part of it or not, and there are many nutritious pre-cooked meals available that are not processed foods. The obesity epidemic is because parents demonstrate poor eating habits, not because mothers are working. Kids of working mothers are no more obese than kids of mothers who stay at home.

    I see a lot of implied correlation in your remarks, but no demonstrated causation.

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  40. Will on October 28, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    LovleyLauren,

    You have missed my point. I am not taking about the composition or components of the economy, but the decline of the economy. The decline of our economy is due to the decline of traditional values. Traditional values of frugality. Traditional values of spending less than we earn. Traditional values of paying as you go. Traditional values of integrity of not buying a home you cannot afford. Traditional values of not selling a house to someone who can’t afford it. Common sense traditional values are missing.

    The double-income family to justify more and more and more is the problem. The double-income family to survive is perhaps a necessity. Excessive production and excessive consumption are the problem. Children wasting hours in idle or unproductive activity is the problem. The solution is the family. The solution is the traditional family. I have made my point as clear as I can and I don’t know what else to say.

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  41. Will on October 28, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Hawk,

    What you call sexist notions I call the roles outlined in the PofF.

    …our (sic) economy is in trouble… See my response to LovleyLauren, I think we actually see (at least somewhat) eye to eye on this issue.

    “Daycare has taken a beating here” As it should. It is a poor crutch to parenting.

    … processed foods… Come on Hawk, you can’t argue this in good conscience. At the end of your response you do acknowledge the problems with processed foods. My point is a well planned meal is a far better alternative. Not only is it healthier, but also provides the family an opportunity to eat together which is emotionally healthier.

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  42. hawkgrrrl on October 28, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    I do agree about the need for people to take personal financial responsibility. All people.

    As to the processed foods question, I’m not advocating eating poorly, just pointing out that processed foods aren’t caused by women working. Families can eat nutritious foods even if both parents work. The obesity epedimic actually correlates more with families who struggle to make ends meet, not double-income families who may be doing better financially.

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  43. LovelyLauren on October 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    I have not missed your point, I am simply pointing out the basic components of an economy. Morals have nothing to do with it. Economic fluxes are cyclical in nature and have nothing to do with “traditional values.”

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  44. Will on October 28, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    Hogwash…13 trillion in debt is not cyclical, it is a perfect example of irresponsible spending. Bloated government is not cyclical, but an unabridged quest for power. Record numbers of citizens leaching off the government is not cyclical, but a seed of destruction. Record numbers of illegal immigrants over burdening our public services is not cyclical, but is outright theft. Buying a house you can’t afford is not cyclical, but pure pride. Ignoring financial fundamentals and lending money to someone who can’t afford the loan is not cyclical, but is clear greed. The aforementioned ills are the prime reason our economy is in the tank. All told, our economic woes stem more from the decline of our society than from natural business cycles.

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  45. Rebecca on October 28, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    #44 As a fiscal conservative, I find myself in agreement with most of this assessment Will. I find myself wondering why I should help pay for my neighbor’s mortgage modification when they bought a house they couldn’t afford and then remodeled the kitchen, while I stayed in my same home and lived within my means. It violates some basic principles of fairness. This is the kind of thing that has people joining tea parties. We like to think that if we play by the rules, we’ll be rewarded. If people don’t play by the rules, they get burned. Karma. Both major political parties have failed to recognize that this sense of fairness is important to the American people. The discussion over here has crossed over from the wealth and economic discussion going on over on Troth Everyman’s post. But I digress…

    Back to SEXISM – I feel grateful to be able to be a SAHM to my kids. It’s not only a choice I’ve made, but a privilege. There is often a disconnect in what is the ideal, and what is reality. Some of us are lucky enough to live their ideal.

    However, I think it’s helpful to think about women who’s reality is less than ideal. For example:

    - Your daughter who would like to be a devoted mother but who never has a chance to marry. I know of many LDS families who act like their daughter’s earnings are only for her to help out with extra stuff like vacations or braces. Her education is not very important because she’s going to grow up to be a mom. Would your educational and career advice be different for her, knowing that she will need to support herself all her life?

    - Your daughter who does marry and become a devoted SAHM but after 20 years her husband trades her in for a younger blond. Would your advice about education and careers be different for her?

    - Your daughter who marries, has kids, and then her husband gets cancer leaving her on her own with young children. Same question.

    These are “women’s issues” that any loving father would be concerned with.

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  46. LovelyLauren on October 28, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    Those issues are not the economy, Will. You have made it abundantly clear that you do not understand the meaning of what the economy is. If you did, then perhaps you could explain to me why there were economic recessions in the 1930′s when your beloved traditional values were being practices. Or the 1970′s. Or the period following the civil war.

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  47. Rebecca on October 28, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    Also, I wanted to make a point about the history of division of labor between men and women. In a more agrarian society, you tended to have families working together more. Husband and wife and kids working on a family farm together, side by side. The father was probably at home, teaching the kids how to run the farm. The specialization of roles where men go off to work, and women stay home is probably not how most of our recent ancestors lived. In other words, we have to question what we mean by “traditional”.

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  48. Will on October 28, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    LovleyLauren,

    Your definition (very simplified I might add) of the economy is spending and production. I might add my four brothers and I all were all business majors. Moreover, my dad’s first job was a professor of economics at UC Berkeley (embarrassed to admit he taught at just a liberal institution. It was however, in 1963) and we had weekly family discussion about the economy.

    For sake of argument, let’s use your simplified definition as spending and production; and, the later dictionary definition you provided of the exchange of goods and services. With this is mind, you are honestly saying massive debt has nothing to do with production or spending? You are honestly saying bloated government has nothing to do with spending? You are honestly saying an influx of illegal immigrants has no impact on our economy? You are honestly saying the corrupt lending practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are the root cause of the current collapse of the housing market has nothing to do with the exchange of goods and services? You are losing all credibility.

    As for your commentary about the recession in the 1930’s, it should be first noted it was a depression starting in 1929 not a recession. It too was caused by over consumption and heaving consumer debt in the roaring twenties. Like the current situation, misguided government leaders tried to spend our way out of the problem. Like now, it made the situation worse, not better. The economy started to recover in 1937 due to an increase in private investment, but was stymied by big government policies.

    As for the 1970’s, you are correct Carter did his best to destroy the economy, but Reagan stepped in an cut taxes and did proper stimulation resulting in one of the largest peace time expansions of our economy.

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  49. hawkgrrrl on October 28, 2010 at 10:56 PM

    Rebecca’s point is worth exploring as well. Throughout history, women weren’t so much vacuuming the living room in a skirt and pearl necklace as is depicted in 1950s television. For centuries, families worked together. Children and parents absolutely did hard labor for the family business, be it a farm, fishing, craftsman, or merchant type work. Women too participated in these family endeavors. Only the industrial revolution and then the digital revolution changed the nature of work so drastically that the norms of the 1950s emerged. But as jobs continue to evolve, there are more types of flexibility that are emerging also.

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  50. [...] in Outer Blogness this week! How did religion evolve? Should you never say never? There were three interesting takes on sexism in daily life — or for the quick version, there were two great [...]

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  51. [...] few weeks ago, I did a couple of posts on Sexism.  One thing that the ensuing discussion made me think about is why more men [...]

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