Negotiating your identity as a woman in the LDS Church

by: Stephen Marsh

June 16, 2011

I have a hobby in adr research and writing.  Recently, mixed in with materials on normal negotiation and teaching negotiation was an essay on negotiating your identity written from a feminist legal approach.

The article started with the fact that one result of traditional gender roles and stereotypes is that “likeable/good looking” and “competent” are considered exclusive of each other for women.  If you are good looking or likeable you are “not competent.”  If you are competent, you are by definition not likeable.  The professors provided a list of tools for negotiating your public identity if you were female and wanted to be both.  The tools apply to women anywhere they deal with gender stereotypes.

[If you want the entire essay, footnotes, and their conclusions instead of my thoughts based on same, look up Negotiating your Public Identity:  Women’s Path to Power by Tinsley, Chedelin, Schneider & Amanatulla in Rethinking Negotiation Teaching.]

You have several choices.

  • Worth within stereotypes.
  1. reframe what you do as fitting within the stereotypes.  For example, when you negotiate or present positions, push on behalf of groups or community.  Act on behalf of groups you are nurturing or responsible for.
  2. use softer methods.
  • Minimize the activation of stereotypes
  1. Act as a part of a diverse team.  Diverse teams cause people not to revert to stereotyping.
  2. Appeal to common goals.
  3. Take on roles that are seen as outside of the stereotypes (e.g. female lawyers are not evaluated or reacted to as “female” but rather as “lawyer” so that the stereotype that goes with “female” is often not applied to female lawyers).
  • Renegotiate your identity.
  1. Create a coherent alternative story to the stereotype that applies to you.
  2. Break out of stereotypes by adding complexity to your story or by preventing alternative narratives.
  3. Network to activate others and use their social capital.
  4. Destabilize stories and narratives that revert to stereotype.

Interestingly enough, the law professors used Sarah Palin as an example of someone who had a great deal of success in connecting to her base as both likeable and competent and Hillary Clinton as someone who faced problems in succeeding in that endeavor as a candidate for president (and who has had success as secretary of state).

To break free from stereotype you need a narrative that is both engaging (rather than threatening) and complex.  E.g. a hockey mom and a hunter (Palin).

Of course the real question is whether the tools that work for individuals will work for groups, and if they do, what they can work for.

Do you feel a need to renegotiate your identity?  If you do, what changes do you want to make, what is the narrative you seek?

(Yes, this moves me back on track and back towards Zion and past my last post).

114 Responses to Negotiating your identity as a woman in the LDS Church

  1. SilverRain on June 16, 2011 at 7:08 AM

    I can’t say I find Palin either likable or competent. So by playing the game, you always run the risk of losing both.

    But these dynamics explain a lot about my life. Here I’ve been trying to be competent and wondering why I’m not liked. Now I know.

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  2. Will on June 16, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    What’s wrong with having the most important identity as a woman – that of a mother. There is no calling, position or accolade more important than this calling. We should revere this calling. We should hold on a pedestal those women that make the right choice of being at home with their children where they belong. The term belong should not be interpreted as a directive, but as an adjective used to describe the essential role they have. They are needed at home.

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  3. Justin on June 16, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    Women cannot win this game. So I’d suggest not playing. They will always not be right in someone’s eyes b/c it’s been ingrained in us that scrutinizing and judging women is perfectly acceptable, if not required even.

    It doesn’t make sense for a person to base their own beliefs about themselves [or the world for that matter] on the consensus of others — people believe all sorts of stupid things.

    All I would like to see is women acting like women and men acting as men. Men are by nature of their male birth to learn the ways of a priest. Women are by nature of their female birth to learn the ways of a priestess.

    Males must embrace and magnify their masculine aspect – while at the same time honoring feminine-ness by loving their wives.

    Females must embrace and magnify their feminine aspect – while at the same time honoring masculine-ness by yielding their consent to their husbands.

    For there to be true equality between males and females, matriarchy must exist along with patriarchy and gynocracy must exist along with androcracy. There must be a balance of power, and power must be shared – not concentrated in the hands of a few.

    Women are to hold the keys of common consent by which they are free to authorize, validate, and direct the work of the priesthood.

    Men are to hold the keys of the priesthood by which they are to act as the voluntary slaves of all and minister the gifts and powers of the Spirit.

    Though wives are to submit to or follow their husbands – this is balanced inasmuch as the priesthood of the husband cannot be handled without the consent of those it is intended to serve [the servant must hearken to his masters in all things].

    All things must be done by common consent, or else disharmony and tyranny result [rather the men or the women are at fault]. Men and women are judged by God according to how they use their respective set of keys and how they treat each other.

    There is no need to consider the particular aspects of the female nature [or the male nature] to be a burden. Nor do we have to somehow neutralize the difference between woman and man in the quest for some androgenous equality of andro-gyn-archy where we demand the sun reflect light and the moon emit it.

    What we are to understand by the division of masculine and feminine natures is that man or woman [alone] are but half of a true person – just as a person’s flesh is incomplete without his/her spirit. However, it is being half that allows the whole to be constructed without denying each part what it truly is.

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  4. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    so a man’s greatest identity is that of father…

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  5. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    the reason why women will still have a hard time, generally speaking, being in control of their own identity within the church is that there are still plenty of men, like Will, who want to define womanhood for them. As long as men hold the power in the church, women will not be able to independently create their own identity. They will always be under a man.

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  6. will on June 16, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    “so a man’s greatest identity is that of father…”

    Yep.

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  7. will on June 16, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Dan,

    It’s not about the woman, it’s about the children. If you make the choice to bring kids in the world, the best thing for them is to have their MOTHER at home with them for the crossroads of their lives.

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  8. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    or their father…

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  9. Will on June 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    Dan,

    No

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  10. aerin on June 16, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    LDS women have no identity outside of being wives and mothers. Who they are, what their interests are is second to what they do. They can only be accepted or seen as competant by focusing on their appearance and through the success of their children.

    Of course I know plenty of LDS women who are competant and have secure identities outside of being a spouse or mother. But LDS culture struggles with accepting a woman outside these roles. I’m sure the responses will name single men or women who have been successful, but the culture still expects them to want to be married (at the least). A woman is seen as being unwhole and by nature unhappy without a husband or children. (For the record, I hope this is changing. The voices of many single and childless people may have created compassion among faithful LDS, but until that underlying “whole” assumption is addressed, I don’t see how additional progress can be made).

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  11. ssj on June 16, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    As a woman, I am constantly renegotiating my identity. I am 25, in graduate school, and I have been married for over 4 years. Not only do I have to justify my life decisions to myself but to others. I was just asked the other day about having children. I quickly when to my standard response about being in school and student loans to pay off. The sad thing is, I should be able to say “You know, I really don’t know if I want kids.” But to others, that is blasphemy.

    It’s very tricky and I’m just beginning to realize that as a woman I will have to be renegotiating my identity for the rest of my life.

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  12. LuluBelle on June 16, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Wow, Will, so the “right” decision is to be home with the kids, huh. This is a priviledge pretty much only reserved by upper class women. Most women throughout the world MUST work and to heap guilt on them for doing so, is so cringeworthy that I don’t even know where to start.

    For the record, I’m a mom to 2 awesome kids. They are my #1 priorty. They are also the #1 priority of my huband’s. We BOTH work full-time jobs. We are both high income wage earners so I could probably cut back in all kinds of ways so I could stay home but we chose not to because we feel it’s in all our best interests that I work. It’s good for the kids (they love camp and after school activities), it’s good for me (I have a brain and love using it to earn a good income, and I love the independence it gives me and peace of mind that I have from knowing that I don’t “need” my husband to support us), it’s good for me and my husband (some day, we might be able to retire!), and it’s good for him (he’s proud of his wife who can go out in the workforce and slay the dragons just as well as he can).

    The judgemental attitude by YOU and many others in the church for women who work outside the home that we have made the WRONG decision is polarizing at best. Shame on you.

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  13. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Will is essentially saying that a guy like me, who stays home with his daughter, is doing his daughter a disservice in life by being home with her, and that her mother, by working, is doing her a disservice by not being in the home with her.

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  14. Will on June 16, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Dan,

    Correctly restated:

    The Family: A Proclamation to the World is essentially saying that a guy like me, who stays home with his daughter, is doing his daughter a disservice in life by being home with her, and that her mother, by working, is doing her a disservice by not being in the home with her.

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  15. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    don’t co-opt the Family proclamation for your ridiculous political ideology, Will. It’s not yours to interpret that way.

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  16. Will on June 16, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    LuluBelle,

    I am just stating what “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” says. Take it however you want. It was signed by both presiding quorums. It is their decision and declaration. They represent the mind and will of God. They have outlined his plan. His program — his definition of the family roles. That is my understanding after reading this document. Take it however you want.

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  17. Will on June 16, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Dan,

    Read the document however you want.

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  18. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    You don’t understand the proclamation, Will. You’re only taking from it that which reinforces preconceived ideas.

    By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

    You take the first part as scripture but completely ignore the part I highlight. Equal partners.

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  19. Will on June 16, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Dan,

    Exactly what I was going to post, except the highlight:

    “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. ”

    Seems pretty clear what the PRIMARY roles should be.

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  20. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    see, you focus on just one part yet again. You’re acting very stupidly here, Will. No one is doubting what the proclamation says. You’re using it as a cudgel. You’re saying “if you go against what I, Will, say, you’re going against God!” You’re wanting to end the debate because people are clearly not agreeing with you. You’re corroding the good name of the proclamation by carrying in the dirt like this, trying to use it to crush anyone from daring to disagree with you. You clearly lack decency, thus there is no point in asking where your decency is. All that is left is nothing.

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  21. Alice (alliegator) on June 16, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    That’s just one of the examples of double-speak (and I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way) in the proclamation. How can you have PRIMARY responsibilities but at the same time be obligated to help each other as EQUALS? My view is that someone has to be in charge of different areas to make sure they get done. That doesn’t mean that person actually has to DO that particular thing, so if it works better for the father to stay at home, then the mother (who has primary responsibility over all things children) can turn that responsibility over to the father.

    Also, there’s the nice little disclaimer: Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.

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  22. Paul on June 16, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Man, it’s fun to watch Will and Dan argue. Better than reality TV.

    #11: Why should you need to justify your decisions about child bearing to anyone? What’s wrong with the published position of the church: “The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.”

    Shame on those who make you feel otherwise.

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  23. Paul on June 16, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    #19: Will, couldn’t a father fulfill his primary duty of “provid[ing] the necessities of life and protection for their families” by counseling with his equal parnter in the marriage and determining that she is best qualified to work? Couldn’t a mother show her “responsib[ility] for the nurture of their children” by counseling with her equal-parnter husband and determining together that he is in a better position to provide that nurturing?

    In both cases, father and mother discharge primary responsibilities, are supported by their equal partners, and the children are blessed to be reared in a family where father and mother love and care for them.

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  24. Paul on June 16, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Sorry — that’s directed to #18 Will, not #19…

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  25. Alice (alliegator) on June 16, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Sometimes I work to fit the stereotypes so that when I want to do something outside of them, it’s taken better by those around me at church.

    If you have some “good, traditional member credit”, people don’t get as weirded out if you do something “out there” later.

    It’s all about balance. And getting people slowly acclimated to your “weird” stuff in a way that they don’t notice you’re changing their perception of “what a mormon woman is”.

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  26. Will on June 16, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Dan,

    Don’t put words in my mouth. I did not say fathers should not help with the kids. I did not say the woman should be kept away from financial decisions. I said women should be at home with their kids, while the father provides the family. This is the essence of the proclaimation. The primary roles outlined in that document. It’s essence.

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  27. SteveS on June 16, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Is anyone else getting frustrated at how Will seems to be derailing the conversation here? I would love to hear from more women about negotiating their identity within the context of the LDS culture rather than hear tired arguments about the Family Proclamation and ad hominem attacks being levied because our feelings are hurt. Certainly the Family Proclamation bears weight in the discussion, but we’re not debating it’s divine doctrinal authority.

    Back to our regularly scheduled program. Pretty please? :-)

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  28. Troth Everyman on June 16, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    My wife was recently involved in a Relief Society lesson where the topic was “what do I tell my daughter when she asks, ‘why can’t I hold the priesthood?'” Many of the women in the room began to give what appeared to be justifications for why they didn’t have the priesthood. My wife began to feel uncomfortable because it seemed like the women were trying to convince themselves that there wasn’t a disparity. My wife explained to me later that it felt uncomfortable because “if the women truly believed it was okay that they didn’t have the priesthood they wouldn’t have had to justify it’s absence….” I’m not saying that women should or should not have the priesthood, but rather that it is an important element in LDS women identity development and navigation. It represents a unique struggle LDS women face.

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  29. Heber13 on June 16, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    #26 Will:
    I don’t think that is the essence of the proclamation. That is too narrow.

    The essence is:
    The plan is so that God’s “children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.”

    You have to think bigger picture than just who is the main breadwinner and who is the main caretaker. Individual circumstances require adaptation…but the purpose is around individuals developing, including the kids.

    Good for you if you think you should be the one to provide physically for your family. Bad for you if you think your ideas apply across the board to what others should do in their home.

    I think you want to fall back on authority, stating it is the prophet and Q12 signing a document and therefore, how you interpret it is truth for all, but I disagree with the emphasis you give and your interpretation of it.

    There are lots of ways for men to provide, and women to nurture, and there are lots of ways to balance those responsibilities with life choices and career decisions.

    I make my identity, and that is what I’m accountable for when standing before God. My circumstances may require adaptation, and I’m responsible to identify that. Others may not understand my situation, and my choices, but that is not what matters (placating others to be likable at the expense of being true to myself and being competent doesn’t help me).

    I don’t know why it would be different for women.

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  30. Paul on June 16, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    #28 TE: you raise an interesting point. My wife, a very conservative member of the church with very conservative upbringing, probably feels less comfortable discussing the “why” of women and the PH than accepting the status quo. How would that discussion go in a scenario in which the women don’t have to justify its absence?

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  31. Troth Everyman on June 16, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Paul,

    I don’t know how the discussion would go “in a scenario in which [they] don’t have to justify its absence?”

    However, to me the issue is that very many women do feel like they have to justify its absence. This makes the topic of priesthood a unique area that women in the LDS church have to navigate, grapple with personally, and discuss with others as they grow up. How they make sense of it determines a great many things in their lives.

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  32. Heber13 on June 16, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    I hesitate to reference the cliche … but wouldn’t the discussion around justifying the absence of women not having the priesthood be the same as a discussion about men not having babies? Men don’t even take time discussing it, it just isn’t and it doesn’t hurt my identity because of it. It matters nothing about a person’s self-worth or likability or competence to do a job. Negotiating an identity comes from what the individual wants to do with their abilities.

    I will never be a presidential candidate like Sarah Palin is. I am not competent enough. I hope she is never elected president, I don’t think she is competent enough.

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  33. Troth Everyman on June 16, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Heber,

    Whether men can have babies and whether women can have the priesthood are separate issues. For men it is biologically impossible for them to have children. It is not biologically impossible that women do not have the priesthood. However, that’s not really my point. I did not mean to derail the conversation regarding whether women should or should not have the priesthood. Only pointing out that it is something LDS women have to deal with in their identity development.

    Just for fun I’ll carry your cliche further ;o). I would point out that males not being able to have babies does influence their identity. Their identity is that of “male” and implicitly means that one cannot have babies. If males actually could have babies in one context but in another were not allowed to have babies this would have even more of an impact on identity development. This scenario would cause men to question or even justify why it was “okay” that they couldn’t have babies in their current context. Simply stating that it doesn’t hurt one’s identity doesn’t mean it doesn’t profoundly influence it. It may or may not hurt a woman’s identity development to not have the priesthood…but it certainly influences it.

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  34. Keri Brooks on June 16, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Heber #32 – Priesthood and gestation aren’t comparable for a few reasons. First, equating the two devalues fatherhood. While it’s true that only women gestate and give birth, both men and women can reproduce and raise children. Second, priesthood is connected to righteousness in a way that motherhood is not. Any worthy man can hold the priesthood. There are plenty of worthy women who cannot be mothers. There are also plenty of unworthy women who can.

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  35. aerin on June 16, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Of course men can have babies…just not carry them to term. (well, except that one man a few years back).. just because someone is biologically not able to have children shouldn’t define who they are or what God wants them to do. I am biologically female, so I could never have recieved the priesthood. By not receiving the priesthood, an entire sphere of power and influence are shut to me.

    Sure, I may be capable of having children, but that’s small satisfaction to having any role in the mormon faith not defined by those around me. I can’t make decisions for groups I participate in, at every level there is a man presiding over me, saying what I can and can’t do. A simple trick of biology.

    So by chance I am merely a servant to my husband and children, instead of a leader, able to make decisions and be treated as an equal.

    When priesthood starts dismissing and meeting in the relief society room and the relief society stays in the chapel (or the separate meetings are thrown out), then some of the power dynamics may have changed. Then maybe women could explore their mormon identity to be what they wanted, outside of stereotypes, without having to grovel to have “crusts” from the table of privilege; to be able to do radical things like close sacrement meeting with a prayer.

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  36. June on June 16, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    #32, Heber13
    We as women don’t sit around and discuss why we don’t have a penis either. You are not biologically capable of having babies. That is a whole different discussion than why women do not have the priesthood. Remember those logic questions in school a is to b, as c is to d? The correct answer would never be Priesthood is to men as motherhood is to women.

    No, having the Priesthood is not about a person’s self-worth or likability or competence. It is about our access to the power of God.

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  37. Heber13 on June 16, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    I completely agree the two are poorly connected in multiple ways…but I’m not sure how they are different relative to one’s identity. They are more connected than whether woman should work in the home or not. That was my point. I will never be Relief Society President or Primary President. But that doesn’t need to be part of my identity. It will just never happen. I can be a father, and stay home and take care of my kids and let my wife work if that is what we choose in our home.

    Some women can have babies, some can’t. Neither need to impact their identity in or out of the church.

    The OP states: “Break out of stereotypes by adding complexity to your story or by preventing alternative narratives.”

    So…my connection with men holding the Priesthood and women having babies is around their situation of who they are. Some men can’t hold the priesthood (for various reasons) some women can’t have babies (for various reasons), but regardless … one’s identity is establishing who you are in your situation, whatever that is. And the point is, you don’t let stereotypes or others dictate what you should or shouldn’t do in your life. But there are real life limitations of what you can or cannot do. Then you make the most with what you’re given.

    Does that clarify?

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  38. June on June 16, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    I think the main difference in negotiating our identity is that women have to justify whatever their decisions are. Men never (or almost never) have to justify theirs. “What do you do?” to a women is answered with trepidation. If you are a stay at home mom you have to justify it to the “working” women. If you say I am a lawyer for example you have to justify it to the more conservative members. Your personal decisions are always up for scrutiny by those around us. While I will agree that men who stay home to raise their children will probably feel the same need to justify, but not the other way around if they are “working” men. (See that term even sounds funny.)

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  39. Heber13 on June 16, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    #36, I disagree the priesthood has anything to do with access to the power of God. No loving father in heaven would restrict access to His daughters because He has to go through His sons to access His daughters. I think Priesthood is something different.

    The problem I got myself into (I hesitated for a good reason) is now people are suggesting I’m saying priesthood is that same as having babies. That’s not what I’m saying.

    I’m saying that women can’t hold the priesthood. Men can’t have babies. Neither has to be something that dictates our identities. They are just facets of life through which we work around to build our identities. They are the same to me in how they relate to our building our identities…not in any other way.

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  40. Heber13 on June 16, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    #38, June… I think that is a fair statement. Sadly, I think you are right…and it shouldn’t be that way.

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  41. June on June 16, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    but Priesthood (as it is current used today) does dictate at least part of our identities. the “Priesthood holders” are the ones in charge. they are the ones with the power so to speak. that is very much a part of a person’s identity.

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  42. Heber13 on June 16, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    And a woman has a baby, that is a part of her identity.

    I agree. These things are a part of our lives, and from which we build our identities.

    We don’t need to let not having the priesthood hold us back from being something or somebody. We just work with what we have. And we don’t let others tell us we have to stay home, or we have to accept RS Presidents are not as important as bishops. Those are the stereotypes that hold us back, that we have to break away from, I think.

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  43. Stephen Marsh on June 16, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    I think the main difference in negotiating our identity is that women have to justify whatever their decisions are. Men never (or almost never) have to justify theirs.

    Men just have to justify different things. Look at how often Dan, the Good Democrat, ends up justifying being a stay at home dad, for example.

    I would love to hear from more women about negotiating their identity within the context of the LDS culture rather than hear tired arguments

    Amen. SilverRain got this all started with a wonderful comment. I was really hoping people might discuss narratives and how they are thinking about controlling theirs.

    priesthood is connected to righteousness in a way that motherhood is not Wow. That would make an excellent post all on its own.

    And the point is, you don’t let stereotypes or others dictate what you should or shouldn’t do in your life. But there are real life limitations of what you can or cannot do. Then you make the most with what you’re given Nicely said.

    SilverRain — your comments also explain why just about every respects you as a commenter and a blogger. We have a frame outside of normal stereotyping where competence does not equal not likeable (and where no one knows how we look).

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  44. Will on June 16, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Paul/Dan/LuLu,

    You are all dancing around the issue. Justifying your actions. Come on, be honest. They would not define the primary roles if they did not intend for them to be followed. To say of they can decide, as equal partners, to change those roles is total B.S. That’s like saying you can decide, as equal partners, not to obey the law of chasity.

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  45. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    thankfully Will, most everyone here has rejected your interpretation.

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  46. Heber13 on June 16, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    Will, now you are changing the proclamation from “happiness is most likely achieved” to “happiness can only be achieved” by following those principles.

    I think you are wrong.

    Even if they intend for people to follow them, that doesn’t mean every circumstance and situation requires we do so. They are not as direct as you are interpreting it to be.

    Remember, Free Agency is the most critical part of the plan we all agreed to in the pre-mortal existence, not obedience.

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  47. Will on June 16, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    Dan,

    What do you expect in a crowd of left-leaning, social activists. I am a minority in this group. Of course what I say is going to get black marks — black marks I wear as a badge of honor.

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  48. Will on June 16, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    “Remember, Free Agency is the most critical part of the plan we all agreed to in the pre-mortal existence, not obedience.”

    B.S. Absolute, total B.S. This has to be one of the worst distortions of Gospel Doctrine I have ever read. Sure, we have moral agency (Elder Maxwell suggested we use this term), but we will NEVER be free of the consequences of our actions. If we are disobedient, we need to repent. Gospel Doctrine 101. Unless we repent, we will suffer as God suffered.

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  49. Dan on June 16, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    always the victim….a true modern conservative.

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  50. Starfoxy on June 16, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    One thing that I find interesting is that, within the church, a woman will often be viewed as *less* competent when she isn’t attractive.

    The cynical side of me would say that this would be because we give women two jobs (wife, mother) and we assume that if you don’t look good no one will marry you (or if they are married to you, they won’t be happy about it) and so you are a failure at the most important job you have- therefore you are incompetent, or antisocial.

    Anyhow, I’ve made a purposeful choice to not spend my time on superfluous grooming and clothing and accessories. I’m clean, neat, active and healthy and engage in about as much grooming as my husband. I find that being friendly, pleasant company and being competent within my callings and duties at church all while not looking like a supermodel counters many people’s narratives of what someone who looks like me is supposed to be like.

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  51. Paul on June 17, 2011 at 7:12 AM

    #38 June: “I think the main difference in negotiating our identity is that women have to justify whatever their decisions are.”

    I’m interested in this statement. Why do women need to justify their choices? And to whom? Is this an external requirement or an internal need?

    I’m not asking to be provacative, but for understanding. Why can’t a woman (or a man) simply answer a question about what s/he does without explanation?

    #44: Will, you know nothing about me. Don’t you dare suggest I’m justifying my actions. Furthermore, who is the “they” of which you speak? I thought the Proclamation was a document inspired of God. I certainly treat it so. How dare you cheapen it by suggesting it is anything less. Finally, who makes you arbiter of others’ personal revelation, scripturally promised and confirmed in the lives of millions of Latter-day Saints around the world?

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  52. Stephen Marsh on June 17, 2011 at 7:19 AM

    Starfoxy, it depends on the role the person is fitting into. That is what makes identity negotiation all the more important.

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  53. SilverRain on June 17, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    I think I am solving my identity within the Church two ways:

    First, I’m developing my relationship with the Lord directly, and leaving others’ opinions out of it. At the same time, I am recognizing the risk that entails to how other Church members see me, and I’m making peace with that.

    Secondly, I’m not worrying so much about my identity, and worrying more about how I can bless others. At the same time, I’m setting priorities and consciously sacrificing other benefits for those priorities, and I’m making peace with my situational limitations and not beating myself over the head with what I can’t do.

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  54. Paul on June 17, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    #53 SR: You make a great point in your distinction of one’s view of him/herself before the Lord compared with the view others have.

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  55. LuluBelle on June 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    I’ll answer the question of the OP.

    It is not easy at all negotiating my own identity in this church. I am not a stereotyped LDS girl (never have been) and I am proud of it. The only way I can negotiate remaining active was (and is) to detach– to not conform, to make no apologies for it, and to (hopefully) give some kind of peace or support to others that, despite people like Will, there can be room here for me, too. I also think that when others learn I am Mormon, it is refreshing for them to know that not all Mormon women look or sound like they have come to expect. It can be very frustrating at times. I do feel quite ostracized in the church sometimes because I am not a SAHM (never have been), didn’t marry young (didn’t ever want to), and challenge the status quo. I am a strong, educated, independent wife and mother. I love my husband, we are devoted partners and parents, and we are equal in our home. He does not preside over our home any more than I do. I feel comfortable assigning prayers to anyone in the family. My husband and I compliment each other. I am not subservient in any way, nor does he want or expect me to be. I also feel like I am a great nurturer and that nurturing also includes paying for the food that gets placed on the table. When I first divorced and it was just me and my daughter for several years, I was proud and relieved to support is very well despite receiving no child support at all for 3 years. I provided us a very nice home, great vacations– everything we needed. I was not dependent on anyone in the divorce aftermath and that was being a nurturer. I go against the grain and I hope that my example shows others that it’s ok for them to do what works for them and ignore the patronizing of “some” in the church who think of us as “lesser”. To that, I say “shame on them”.

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  56. Will on June 17, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Paul,

    The they I was referring to is the authors of the document. As I said, they would not have defined the primary roles if they did not intend them to be followed. They would have just said, couples are to act as equal partners. They defined the roles for a reason. They are the external roles outlined by God. So someone who has revelation to changes those roles is
    receiving revelation from the wrong source. If my logic is flawed, the please provide commentay
    why they would outline the roles if they did not intend for them to be followed.

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  57. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 17, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    LuluBelle — thanks, that was refreshing. You can see that you’ve picked up a lot of “like” notes, so others agree with me.

    SilverRain — thanks again. You know, if you ever want to do a guest post here, you are welcome.

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  58. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 17, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Starfoxy — I’m at a loss as to why anyone voted “dislike” to your post. Let me publicly thank you for the perspective.

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  59. Troth Everyman on June 17, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    “Starfoxy — I’m at a loss as to why anyone voted “dislike” to your post. Let me publicly thank you for the perspective”

    I second the motion. Thank you.

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  60. Troth Everyman on June 17, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    And would like to see a guest post from SilveRain here sometime….

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  61. Alice (alliegator) on June 17, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    “why they would outline the roles if they did not intend for them to be followed.”

    Why would they provide a clause saying individual circumstances may require adaptation if they didn’t mean it?

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  62. Will on June 17, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    “Why would they provide a clause saying individual circumstances may require adaptation if they didn’t mean it?”

    Death or disability of the husband, divorce, unemployment, unexpected medical bills and unexpected pay cut are sine examples that may require adaptation and have the wife/widow seek employment.

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  63. LovelyLauren on June 17, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    And should a woman want to work because she wants to or because her husband works in a low paying government service job or is a seminary teacher, that would never be appropriate, would it Will?

    Because following your definition of a document is far more important than any woman’s personal happiness, isn’t it?

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  64. Dan on June 17, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    LovelyLauren,

    You gotta understand something. In Will’s mind, and those like him, a woman only comes from a man’s rib. That’s all her value. A man is valued at a rib plus the rest of the body. If God would have actually wanted women to be equal to men, he would not have created woman out of a rib of a man. For guys like Will, women will always be substandard, not really equal to men, always subservient to the whims, desires, beliefs of men because that’s how God says it is, according to guys like Will.

    The problem reasonable people face is that God hasn’t cleared up that snafu personally, so we’re left with a situation where madmen like Will get to hijack God’s words and declare that it is God’s will that women are substandard.

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  65. Alice (alliegator) on June 17, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Will, I’m a stay at home mom. The proc. on the family works for me, for the most part. My Mister works and “provides” and all that.

    It works for us.

    I recognize that it doesn’t work for everyone, and my God, who loves me just as much as he loves my Mister, wouldn’t get so hung up on a rule that he allowed his children to feel squashed into roles that don’t work for them. The point of life isn’t to be squashed into conforming to whatever cultural norm happens to rule the day. The point is to learn and grow, and become more christlike, christ was pretty flexible with how he interpreted rules. The focus was more on what helped people grow, not what conformed the best.

    (I realize that this comment is pointless, but darn internets, I have to post it anyway)

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  66. Paul on June 17, 2011 at 10:20 PM

    56 Will: “So someone who has revelation to changes those roles is receiving revelation from the wrong source.”

    Er, Will, the very inspired document you are discussing allows for flexibility in a given family, but without the qualifiers you cite. I do not know the source of your qualifiers in #62. All the proclamation says is “disability, death or other circumstance”. It does not qualify or limit the “other circumstance” in any way.

    Again, I ask you: who made you arbiter of personal revelation received by another?

    As for the definition of primary roles, you are correct that the proclamation (and I believe it to be divinely inspired) does define those for most families. But because the document also allows for unique circumstances, it seems prudent to allow each family to exercise its agency in how to apply the proclamation.

    There are many countries in the world, for instance, where there is not suitable work for family members. So one parent or another leaves that country and goes elsewhere. Often, it is the wife that leaves. It is a terrible thing to do to a family, and it is a choice over which mothers agonize. (I know this from my personal interaction with some of these mothers.) And it is something that church leaders counsel against. But those sisters, many of whom are faithful, temple recommend holding latter-day saints, make their choices prayerfully and trust in the Lord to bless them and their families.

    Elder Scott, in his talk on the proclamation in 2001, acknowledged that not every family is ideal, but that we strive for the ideal. I am not prepared to suggest that for every family it is ideal to have mom at home and dad away working, but for many I believe it is. In any case, how helpful is it for families in less-than-ideal circumstances to have a condemning voice at every turn? Not very, I think. I agree with Alice (#65) that the Savior’s example of love and encouragement for those who are trying to find their way is a good model to follow.

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  67. Will on June 17, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    Paul, Dan, Alice, etc.

    As I have said numerous times, interpret the document however you want. That is your agency. That is your right. If you choose to look at it a different way, that is your agency. That is your right. I have offered no directive to anyone. I have not told anyone how to act. I have offered my opinion. I have offered my belief. I have offered my interpretation of the document. To me, it is clear. Crystal clear. To me it has says:

    “…….Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose…..”

    Men and women are different and have different purposes and roles in this life.

    “We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife..”

    A man should marry a woman and not another man. They are to be faithful to one another. Raise the children in righteousness, etc…

    “By divine design…”

    A clear directive from God.

    “…fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families…”

    The Father presides over the home, provides for the family and protects his family from the evil influences of the world. This is the man’s primary role.

    “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children”

    Mothers are primarily response for the nurture of their children. This is the woman’s primary role

    “In these sacred responsibilities,”

    In these sacred roles

    “ fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. “

    They are to support each other in these sacred responsibilities. They are to respect each other’s roles. They are to recognize these roles are from God. They are to not look down on their spouse’s role as inferior or less important. They are not to look down on their own role as inferior or superior. These roles are considered equal in the sight of God.

    “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed”

    If the husband dies or is disabled, the wife may need to seek employment or seek financial help from extended family. If the wife dies, the husband may have to work from home or look to extended family for help.

    I think it is pretty clear.

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  68. Stan Beale on June 17, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    When I was being trained to be a labor negotiator, I was given a book, Gerard Nierenberg’s “How To Read A Person Like A Book.” It still is considered one ofthe best guides we have for non verbal communication.

    At that time, even in the area of education, there was a tremendous amount of sexiam and female condescention on the part of male chief negotiators for school districts. Female negotiating chairs for teachers needed “brass cojones” and the ability to do verbal battle. Nierenberg’s book was a tremendous help in understanding and reacting to the sexism we found.

    Frankly, I practiced using Nierenberg on my Ward. It got a lot more complcated than I thought. Besides individual differences and how other people knew women, there were great differences in MM, MF and FF dyads as well as M in mixed group, F in mixed group, M in M group and F in F group (I had to depend on my wife for the last situation).

    What I did was not scientific, but the amount of sexism in virtually every group was amazing. It appears, at least to me, that for males the defining of female roles is more of a product of the Mormon males beliefs and prejudices than the actions or choices of the female.

    The term Sociologists often use to describe Sisters like LuLuBelle (and my wife) is outlier. More parlicularly, they are recognized not for their achievements outside the boundaries of the Church but for the fact that they are not Molly Mormon.

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  69. lyrical on June 18, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    Will #2: Of course being a mother is an important part of my identity. I have been a mother for 19 years and will have children at home for another 12 years yet. But is that the sum total of who I am or what I can accomplish? I don’t think so and never have. What about the decades of my life after my children have grown, not to mention all the spaces in between? The OP asks about negotiating one’s identity as a woman in the church–being a mother may be one part of that–but we are full human beings with a wide spectrum of relationships, experiences, hopes, dreams, etc. “You are a mother” is never the end of the story.

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  70. Dan on June 18, 2011 at 5:26 AM

    Since Will wants, nay begs us, to show the shortcomings of the Family: A Proclamation just so he can feel better about himself how he is righteous amongst a den of viperous sinners…

    Here is the problem with making a proclamation that advises that only the man goes out to work and the woman must stay at home. And the problem that arises from having a woman not be in the workforce. Here is the shortsightedness of the fifteen men who worked on this document (I assume without the assistance or counsel from any women, because women in the church, of course, do not have any position of authority or power over men, or equal to men). These fifteen men say that men should be the workhorse of the family because that’s how it has always been (even though this is bullcrap), or that’s how God wants it (I’d like to know where God Himself has said this). The Genesis account (written by a man thousands of years after the incident occurred) states that the woman will desire to be with the husband and he will rule over her. We’ve come a long way to the Proclamation which states quite differently than what the Bible states. But that’s not because of the fifteen men in Salt Lake City’s Temple. That’s because of the women in this country who pressed for their rights to be equal to men. The fifteen men at the top of our church have been forced to acknowledge that women aren’t to “submit” to men anymore. That they’re now “equal” even though that equality is not really equality. In any case, I’m getting passed my point.

    Here’s the weakness of the Proclamation with regard to working. If a woman does not stay within a working field, if something horrible should happen to her husband, what exactly could that woman do to find work? If she were home the whole time after college (assuming she is even allowed to get a working degree, instead of just an MRS degree), exactly what field of work can she get in? Let’s even put it in the context of today where the labor market is tight, where 50-100 people apply for the same job. How can a woman who has stayed at home for 10 years compete against someone who is in the field (man or woman), for a job that would pay enough to take care of her children and incapacitated husband? She cannot compete. In the cold, heartless capitalistic world, her plight is of no consequence to an employer. So, in order to take care of the kids, a woman now thrust into the working world must find a job at McDonald’s or something while also paying for child care simply because she followed the admonition of this silly document that she stay home. Then her kids will not get that “nurturing” that is supposedly so important because they’ll never see her: she’s working two jobs to make sure they have clothes and food and school supplies.

    The Proclamation is an ideal. It is not really well reflective of how reality works. To use it in a debate like this smacks of demagoguery. If you disagree with me, you disagree with God! And so because you, Will, drag this document into this debate, it will get thrashed because that document is a nice ideal, but terrible for understanding actual reality. So congratulations, you’ve succeeded in getting at least me to thrash The Family: A Proclamation. Now you can exult in your righteousness over someone else.

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  71. Will on June 18, 2011 at 6:41 AM

    Dan,

    It’s called term life insurance

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  72. Will on June 18, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    Dan,

    I defend the document cause I think it is the right thing. I think it is the way to solve the problems in our society. Most problems. As I said at the outset I find motherhood to be the noble of a callings. If done right, it is the solution to all of our social ills.

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  73. Alice (alliegator) on June 18, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    Hahahaha.. If done right.

    That way if kids don’t turn out, it’s the mom’s fault.

    Nice.

    The FAMILY is supposed to be the solution to social ills, let’s not put more onto mothers than we already do.

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  74. Mormon ad hovers over Times Square on June 18, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    […] (Memo to the Mormon leadership: Diverse teams cause people not to revert to stereotyping.) […]

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  75. Paul on June 18, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    Amen, Alice.

    Will, I agree with most of what you’ve written in #67. It is important to note that the roles you describe are within the family. I don’t believe they describe the only role men and women play. (There’s no mention, for instance, of service outside the family, though we know of its importance to the Lord’s work and to our eternal progress. There’s no mention of family history work or temple work. There’s no discussion of roles outside the ideal family setting.)

    Dan, I don’t agree with your vindictive approach to Will, nor your caustic assessment of the authors nor the source of the Proclamation. I do agree with you that it describes and ideal. And I do agree with you that the path to that ideal may be different from what Will describes.

    Will, motherhood is a noble calling. It is not the only calling a woman may have, and some will never have it. But it is a noble calling, as is fatherhood.

    I, with Alice, would hesitate to lay at mothers’ feet the responsibility for the ills of the world. Even Elder Packer made clear many years ago that it would be wrong to blame parents when their children make poor choices. It does not enoble mothers to suggest that the world’s problems today are their fault, because it is not true.

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  76. Stephen Marsh on June 19, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    Stan, an aside to my favorite hobby, have you read Game, Set and Match (a labor negotiation book put out by the guys at Cornell)?

    Paul, nicely said.

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  77. hawkgrrrl on June 19, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Wow, I don’t have the energy to read through the deja vu argument about the PoF that’s making the rounds.

    Back to the point of the OP, I question the premise that a woman who is attractive is also not viewed as competent and vice-versa. IMO the contrary is usually true: attractive people have a leg up on unattractive people. We expect good things from attractive people – while they can certainly open their mouths and disprove their competence (as in the case of Palin), we initially assume something along the lines of: “they look successful, so they must BE successful.” They get the benefit of the doubt.

    Additionally, physical appearance is directly linked to success in specific fields such as sales. We’d rather (as customers) interact with someone who is appealing to look at than someone who is not.

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  78. hawkgrrrl on June 19, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    All right, I feel the suction. Paul said: “Why can’t a woman (or a man) simply answer a question about what s/he does without explanation?” I have to agree with him on this. It’s the ONLY answer to the question.

    When people talk about ‘negotiating’ your identity – don’t negotiate, just be. When people talk about justifying your decisions – don’t justify, just decide. The main issue I see with our LDS culture and women is that it creates an environment where women have a hard time owning our choices. For a woman to own the choice to stay at home with her kids, it has to be her choice. We can’t expect a woman to own a choice she made at 18 in the way she would if she were informed and mature and had many choices available to her that were all considered equally legitimate.

    I think I’m as successful as I am because I own my choices. I chose to do what was right for me, regardless of what others might have wanted me to do. If I have regrets, they are my own, not things I can blame others for. I didn’t cave to the considerable pressure that exists for women in the church to do what everyone else is doing and to care what everyone else thinks instead of finding out what I think best and doing it.

    It hurts when a non-member discovers I’m Mormon and says, “But you have a successful career. I didn’t think Mormon women were allowed to do that.” I just answer, “Apparently that’s not true.” But it absolutely hurts the church that people believe that women are oppressed and coerced in this way, that women are not allowed to be self-reliant.

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  79. hawkgrrrl on June 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    I also wanted to add a comment about Will’s claim that we are all left-leaning (I’m not, as I’ve said many times) and that we are social activists. I’m definitely not a social activist politically or personally. Live and let live. But isn’t it social activism to want to engineer the choices of others, to force men and women into the neat little Victorian boxes that Will finds so appealing? People should own their own choices, not dictate or condemn the choices of others whatever they may be.

    Will’s argument that motherhood cures all social ills is the argument posed by the Obedient Wives Club (post from me on this topic forthcoming). According to their tenets disobedient wives are the root cause of rape, incest, pedophilia, and prostitution. Will didn’t go so far, but that’s the trajectory of his argument. ts,

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  80. Risa on June 19, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Will, if the church wanted me to “stay at home” they wouldn’t employ. And none of the exceptions you listed apply to me. Also, I have young children.

    Furthermore, I take great exception to your #2. Women do not want to be put on pedastals. Women don’t want to be worshipped. We’re fallible human beings and are not noble for caring for children. I find your Victorian beliefs about motherhood very distressing. I’m not “an angel in the house” willing to sacrifice everything on my family’s behalf without receiving any support in return.

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  81. Risa on June 19, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    Stupid phone. Add a “me” to the end of the first sentence.

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  82. Lulubell on June 19, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    For the record, I didn’t expect when I married the first time, to have to flee my home with my daughter and a suitcase. My first husband was a temple recommend holder and frequent temple goer. I thought I knew what path my life was on and saw my future. But I always worked a professional job. Thank goodness! Because when that moment came that I knew we had to leave RIGHT NOW, I was earning over $100k per year on my own and when a social worker offered me a list of battered women’s shelters where we could go, I almost fell over. It hit me at that moment. My God, if I didn’t have a high paying job, what would I do? I’d be at the mercy of government and private welfare programs and my parents to support us. What an amazing feeling it was to say “no thanks, we’re going to a hotel.” We stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn for a week until I found us an apartment, and then a few months later, a condo. Thank goodness that I never had to beg the courts or anyone for child support or financial assistance to help feed us. BUT, I earned this income after YEARS of climbing the corporate ladder. Had I been unemployed and entered the workforce, my wage wouldn’t have come close to providing us the very basics of what we’d need to survive. I’m not saying that EVERY woman MUST work like I did, but if providing for my child without needing aid wasn’t nurturing my daughter, pray tell what is. Guys like Will who think I should’ve been home popping out kids and knitting have NO IDEA what the real world is like for millions of women, kids and families around the world. The fact that even some women even have that choice is a very new concept. For thousands of years women have worked and contributed to society.

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  83. Stephen Marsh on June 19, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    Lulubell, good for you.

    Hawk — Back to the point of the OP, I question the premise that a woman who is attractive is also not viewed as competent and vice-versa. all I have are statistics and solid research cited by others.

    But, take sales. Donna Rice, Gary Hart’s girlfriend, was very successful in sales. No one considered her very competent of the doctors who bought pharmaceuticals she was selling.

    You are right that in some areas there is a confluence of attractiveness and perceived ability, but then it is a matter of competence in what?

    As for “just be.” You can. But others will often see you as they desire, and it will affect your ability to do.

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  84. Alice (alliegator) on June 19, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Sometimes I wonder how other people see me. There are some things I like or do that would put me in one category that very much contradicts another category I might fit into.

    At church, I do try to present myself in a way that will help me maintain credibility. Not to say I pretend to be something I’m not, I just focus on the parts of me that “fit in” more. Unless someone says something really obnoxious that needs to be cleared up, then I probably use up a lot of my saved-up credibility points…

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  85. brjones on June 19, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    Will, I agree with you on one point; I can’t think of anything healthier for your kids than to have you not stay at home with them on a full-time basis.

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  86. Will on June 19, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    Brjones.

    “Will, I agree with you on one point; I can’t think of anything healthier for your kids than to have you not stay at home with them on a full-time basis.”

    Amen to that.

    One is on a full-time mission and the others are at the top of their game – exceptionally good kids. I don’t know that I could do much damage now. Ann has done a fabulous job.

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  87. Will on June 19, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    “Guys like Will who think I should’ve been home popping out kids and knitting have NO IDEA what the real world is like for millions of women”

    If that is your idea of what Motherhood is, it is a good thing your not at home with them.

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  88. Will on June 20, 2011 at 6:44 AM

    Hawk

    You have totally misrepresented what I said and have offered nothing to the faithful women that choose to stay at home with their children but condemnation. Your comments offer ridicule to these good women. Your comments suggest they are inferior for making thus choice. Your comments are demeaning to women who chose to follow what is outlined by the Prophet. You wear a stiff neck and high head in your attitude towards them. Maybe they are obedient because they want to, not out of compulsion. Maybe they see the wisdom in Gods counsel. Maybe you need to offer them more respect.

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  89. Justin on June 20, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    Wow — 16 thumbs down on my #3 — but unlike Will, no one responded about what it was they disliked.

    I guess it’s like the Meatloaf song says, “15 out of 31 ain’t bad.”

    I’ve largely agreed with Paul [#22, 23, 30, 51, 75] throughout these comments. How to negotiate your identity? Try Why negotiate your identity?

    As I said in #3 — women cannot win this game. No matter what they choose [stay-at-home or bring-home-bacon] — they will always not be right in someone’s eyes b/c it’s been ingrained in us that scrutinizing and judging women is perfectly acceptable, if not required even.

    People who would feel uncomfortable about the identity a woman has chosen in her family [or in the lack of a family] deserve to be made to feel uncomfortable. Rub it in their face a little, make them squirm in Relief Society lessons on the importance of submitting to the priesthood or the importance of “nurturing” children by staying at home, etc.

    It doesn’t make sense for any person [man or woman] to base their identity [or their beliefs about the world or God, etc.] on the consensus of others — evidence: people believe all sorts of stupid things.

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  90. Alice (alliegator) on June 20, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    As a faithful woman who chooses to stay at home, I don’t feel condemned by Hawkgrrrl’s comments. I enjoy staying home with my kids. I’m grateful that my Mister and I are in a position where I can do it.

    I’m also glad that women have a choice. If I felt like I HAD to choose what I did, I’d feel trapped and resentful. Telling women that the only noble choice they have in life is to be a SAHM, is far more condemning than expressing the happiness you’ve found in a successful career.

    (Stephen- sorry for not staying on topic- obviously I need to learn to ignore more…)

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  91. Will on June 20, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    Jared,

    In retrospect, you have offered the most wisdom on this post. I think I am in full agreement with you, but would add it is fueled by the emotions of a husband. I don’t care what people say about me. I don’t care if Dan or Lulu calls me judgmental; or the best is Howard calling me a “peg-legged French midget with a speech impediment and irritable bowel syndrome”. Little does he know how hard it is for me to waddle to the bidet to wee-wee. I digress. But seriously, you can say whatever you want about me, but when you talk smack about my wife or her choices, even an indirect or unintended insult, it is time to pull out .45 caliber and start shooting. For you libs, that is an expression, not an actual course of action so hold on to your love beads. It is an emotionally charged and a no-win argument. With that said, I’ll be saddled up with the holster for the next round.

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  92. Will on June 20, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Sorry Justin

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  93. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Alice, no problem. You did well, all in all.

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  94. Dan on June 20, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    it is time to pull out .45 caliber and start shooting. For you libs, that is an expression, not an actual course of action so hold on to your love beads. It is an emotionally charged and a no-win argument. With that said, I’ll be saddled up with the holster for the next round.

    A true follower of Jesus Christ.

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  95. Dan on June 20, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    and of course the resort to violence to protect “your woman” indicates that you don’t think she could stand up for herself, that she requires your violence in order to defend herself. She’s no match for a man taking her on and requires her own man in order to defend herself.

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  96. Will on June 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Dan,

    I think the love beads have cut off circulation to your brain. Again, it is an expression, not a course of action.

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  97. Dan on June 20, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    don’t speak down to me, Will, you idiot. I know it was an expression. So is “a true follower of Jesus Christ.” But only a truly violent heart would joke about bringing a gun to a word fight.

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  98. Will on June 20, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    “and of course the resort to violence to protect…”

    How else should your comment be taken?

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  99. hawkgrrrl on June 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Will – I have no disdain for women who choose to stay at home. On the contrary, I have high regard for all women – which is why I respect their choices and want the church to be a place that is supportive of female choice, not judgmental or heavy handed. My point was that for a woman (or any person) to be successful in life, they have to own their choices, not feel cajoled and trapped or limited.

    You are reading things between the lines that are not there. Alice understood me clearly.

    I think you should re-examine who’s wearing a stiff neck and being high-handed. You seem to come out swinging a lot.

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  100. Will on June 20, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Dan,

    “But only a truly violent heart would joke about bringing a gun to a word fight.”

    So when your buddy Obama joked about it, it was ok?

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  101. Will on June 20, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    “You seem to come out swinging a lot.”

    Hey, watch the violent speech.

    You’re darn right I do.

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  102. brjones on June 20, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Will, you’ve got some serious stones to accuse anyone in this thread of ridiculing or condemning women. You actually said women should stay at home “where they belong.” Shouldn’t you be out tying a homosexual to a fencepost or cruising the church on mutual night looking for a second wife?

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  103. Will on June 20, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Brjones,

    You forgot wife beating, visiting a strip club, child molestation, knocking down senior citizens on a summer walk and opening fire in a crowded mall. Did I miss anything?

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  104. LuluBelle on June 20, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Will: You give Mormon men a very bad stereotype. I didn’t think there were many left like you but, sadly, I’m wrong. It saddens me that we belong to the same religion and, thank goodness, I try to overlook people like you to even stay active in this church.

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  105. Will on June 20, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    LuLuBelle,

    “You give Mormon men a very bad stereotype”

    It is: 1) My defense of women you choose to stay at home, or 2) My defense of The Family: A proclamation to the World, or 3) My direct approach to communication.

    If it is the first two that is your problem, not mine. I am entitled to my opinion as much as you or anyone else.

    If it is the last one, that is just my style and a reflection of how I was raised. My Mom (who stayed at home) taught us to fight our own battles. She was no baloney. She told it how it was and what was expected. We always knew where we stood and I greatly appreciated that. It works for me and my business and my family. Most of them are multi-millionaries. I just tell it how I see it. Some are offended and some are grateful. Some find me abrasive and some like the no nonsense style. It works in my line of business. I am the same on Sunday or in person as I am the rest of the week. Regardless, with me you always know where you stand. If my style offends you, I am sorry and I have no intention of changing.

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  106. hawkgrrrl on June 20, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    No nonsense style is good. Nonsense content is what I find objectionable.

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  107. Will on June 20, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Hawdgrrl

    “Nonsense content is what I find objectionable.”

    Like?

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  108. LuluBelle on June 20, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Will,

    1. Your attitudes and opinion of those women who do not stay home, by choice or necessity (because you have no idea why they’ve made their choice). Your judgmental and condescending attitude towards women in general. I think it’s disturbing and you’re not the only one in this church who has this belief. It’s one of the reasons I often find myself wondering if I want my kids to stay in this church and if I want them to marry Mormon men.

    2. I could care less if most of your family are multi-millionaires. Perhaps the fact that maybe your family has a certain income or wealth gives you a highly unrealistic view of women, and the lives of the majority of people around the world. I also don’t care if your mom stayed home with you or not. There are great SAHMs and there are HORRIBLE ones. There are amazing moms who work and terrible moms who do the same. Whether they work or not is no litmus test at all for a great mom—nor their ability to churn out amazing or dysfunctional kids (or, for that matter, loving, accepting, Christlike kids– despite their claims of being so). They span the spectrum.

    To me, it is perfectly cringe worthy that I belong to a church that creates a hostile environment for anyone who doesn’t live a certain narrow lifestyle. I thought a church’s main reason for existing was to help people become Christlike and return to Him, not to shove a very specific “job” down a certain gender’s throat, like it or not.

    I hope to raise my children to God fearing, contributing members of society with strong morals and ethics, who are fun and accepting and loving. I pray to God that they never become judgmental, pious, patronizing women. If they do, I’ve certainly failed as a mom. If they learn by my example, they’ll have none of those negative attributes.

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  109. Will on June 20, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Lulu,

    What did I say that was demeaning towards women? To the contrary, I stated motherhood is the most sacred and noble of all callings. If that is demeaning then you don’t understand those terms.

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  110. LuluBelle on June 20, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    …and those that do something besides or in addition to that are “wrong”. Seriously, I somehow stay in the church despite people like you.

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  111. Will on June 20, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    LuLuBelle,

    “…and those that do something besides or in addition to that are “wrong”. Seriously, I somehow stay in the church despite people like you.

    How does this denote demeaning women?

    Am I abrasive? Sometimes. Am I opinionated? Very. Do I speak my mind? Always. Do I think I’m right? Yes. Am I offensive? To some. Do I Stand up for What I Believe? Always. Do I try and be offensive? Only with Dan. Do I enjoy reading the perma-bloggers? Everyone of them and hawkgrrrl is my favorite. Did I intend or attempt to demean women or their role? Absolutely not. I defended what I think is right. I defended what I believe is right. I defended what my wife and I think results in the best outcome for our kids. If you disagree, that is your decision. We may disagree with one another, but that does not mean I am demeaning women. That is an unfounded judgment on your part.

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  112. brjones on June 20, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    “motherhood is the most sacred and noble of all callings.”

    Yes, this statement is demeaning. It’s demeaning to any woman who does something besides this. And it’s especially demeaning coming from a man, who predictably holds himself to a different standard. This is typical patriarchal drivel. We hold you as noble and sacred as long as you do what we tell you you should be doing. Women don’t need to be patronized or put on a condescending pedestal. How about you just actually treat them as equals instead of simply calling them equals while treating them like second class humans?

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  113. Dan on June 21, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    and of course saying ‘motherhood is the most sacred and noble of all callings’ demeans fatherhood. We don’t celebrate our Heavenly Mother. We celebrate our “Heavenly Father!” What is He? Some schlub? When men who hold position of authority over all women within a church say “motherhood is the most sacred and noble of all callings” they’re being condescending and abusing their position of authority. They know within their hearts that women will never hold their position of power, thus they must throw a bone to women saying “yes, you’re special too, in your own special way.” And they also know that saying so means that fatherhood isn’t that special, because it is not as sacred and noble as that of motherhood. Maybe if fatherhood were treated with equal worth= “fatherhood is equal with motherhood as the two most sacred and noble of callings”—maybe then men won’t be condescending to women. But then men still hold power and authority over women unequally….so I guess we have to find some other bone to throw to women to make them feel “special too.” Maybe saying “women are the most beautiful creation…”

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  114. KB on June 24, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    This is an interesting topic. I am a recent graduate with am masters degree in my mid 20s, and I currently work from home for Google. During my years at school I traveled the world, did internships, worked, and gave humanitarian aid in various countries for months at a time. I did all this to become a well-rounded person and to reach out to those in need throughout the world. I also have a 6 month old daughter and married a year and a half ago. Many people at church tell me it is “okay” that I work, because I do so from home. I always try not to laugh, the idea that women who do not work at home are somehow in the wrong is just odd to me. My mother worked while I was growing up, and I turned out just fine! She is also an upstanding member of the church. I have stopped mentioning that I plan on returning for my doctoral degree however, because that is usually met with some comment about how it would be impossible to do and I am crazy for thinking about it. (sigh…)

    On the other hand, I have sat through many a relief society lesson where women have only been able to connect to the topic in a way that includes their children or marriage. This is sad because 1) it excludes and alienates those who are not married/ do not want, do not have, or cannot have children from feeling completely included and involved in the lessom. 2) It seemed they had lost their hobbies, interests, life experiences, etc. to lives “at home”. While I agree that we have many abilities and talents we can offer in our homes, I also think we should not loose the other aspects of our lives that make us whole as human beings. I suppose I mean to say I see a huge identity loss, (women who introduce themselves by who they are married to and how many kids they have…the end), among the LDS women around me (central Utah) and I sometimes wonder how that happened. I have traveled enough to see that it is most prevalent here, and I don’t mean to judge these women, I just wonder when the number of kids you have and your husbands name became all that mattered.

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