As a Mother, I Question Male Spiritual Disadvantages

 
(My son, one day old)

I recently read a book to my three-year-old nephew: The Berenstain Bears and No Girls Allowed, a book he chose from those I owned as a child. In the story, Brother Bear and his friends organize a club to keep Sister Bear out. Sister Bear complains to her parents, and Papa Bear immediately sets off to force the boys to accept Sister Bear into their club. That is until he’s stopped by Mama Bear, who reminds him that gentle persuasion is more conducive to friendship than brute force. Eventually a successful plan is hatched based on Mama Bear’s observations, and all ends well.

I couldn’t help but be initially amused at the gender dynamics displayed. My sister said she has been reading a lot of these books from our childhood to her son, and she reminded me that Papa Bear always wants to do something rash or stupid until Mama Bear convinces him of a better approach. I realized how this reinforces the negative way men are portrayed in society. I think of those movies that my friends and watched in high school: Billy Madison, Dumb and Dumber, Tommy Boy, and the like. I haven’t kept up to date with them, but see the trailers for these movies that are still being made, an entire genre targeted to teenagers and young adults to show how adult men behave selfishly and foolishly. Have I missed the criticism that these movies’ messages deserve? When this humor is so unbalanced toward men, it creates a disappointing and sexist image. Perhaps it’s because men dominate the comedic profession. Yet that still points to our sexist expectations of people’s behavior.

Lately this hits closer to home. In my three months as a mother, I’ve discovered this strong biological instinct to protect my son. In the absence of many physical threats that traditionally plagued my ancestors (food scarcity, lack of shelter, wild animal attacks), I find myself mainly concerned with his social and emotional welfare. How can I give him a sense of inner security? How can I give him the tools he needs to become a good man? These are the questions I find myself asking during those quiet hours of nursing him.

To answer those questions, I have to look at the challenges he will face. As an academic feminist, I’m trained to look at the messages society sends women and girls. But I’m also focused on gaining an understanding of the messages society sends men and boys, especially now I’m a mother of one. I see the messages played over again: men are irresponsible, selfish, sex-obsessed, and uncontrollable hulks. They lack awareness and empathy, and only women can save men from themselves. And this just barely scratches the surface of the ills our society stereotypically puts on males. As a mother of a sweet, innocent baby, I do not want this to be my son’s inheritance.

But that’s society at large: “The World,” as we say in Sunday School. The Church is, or should be, different. Unfortunately, I see these perceptions promoted by society leaking into our Church culture and our explanation of male-only Priesthood or lack of women’s stories in the Book of Mormon. In Relief Society, I often hear women claim that they are inherently better than men. They say they are more spiritual, more sacred, wiser. Like Mama Bear, women are said to be the ones behind all sound family decisions while men are meant to be the public executors of their wives’ decisions so they can appear to preside in the family, preserving women as sacred entities. This stands to reason that men are not then as sacred.

Some people reason that fatherhood is not as important a role as motherhood, so we must give men something in addition to their opportunity to create and nurture human life. This type of reasoning implies that baby boys are born deficient when compared to baby girls, and only when they receive the Priesthood will they begin to recoup the spiritual power that places such a wide gap between them and the girls who are so above them.

My experience is that this reasoning is hogwash. Perhaps it is based on women’s own insecurities, but it’s no excuse to harm others in the process of working out your own self-doubt. Sometimes this belief is perpetuated within the sex: men will promote the idea because they are at a loss to explain why they hold the Priesthood and women don’t. But this answer will not satisfy me because it clashes with what I understand with my heart.

As I hold my son in my arms, I feel such a sense of fullness, of completeness. How can I describe my certainty except that it comes to me as a type of revelation or epiphany? His name is as sacred to me as any woman’s on earth. I know that he is everything he is supposed to be. I do not sense any deficiency in his spirituality because of his maleness. I cannot imagine him any more perfect if he were female. In fact, I sense a strong kind of connection he has to the Divine. A focus he has. An understanding. Totally male and totally complete in God’s love and power. And he doesn’t even hold the Priesthood.

Alisa

Alisa is a professional adult educator and corporate manager who enjoys spending time with her husband and son.

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43 Responses

  1. Emily U says:

    First, Alisa, your son is beautiful.

    Second, I couldn’t agree more that the idea that men need priesthood to complete a deficiency brought about by the fact that they’re not mothers is bunk. After becoming a parent, I see so many ways in which my husband’s contribution as a parent complements and completes mine. It’s hard to enumerate or even name all these things, but I am convinced that if all my son had was me, his life would be greatly impoverished.

    I think one data point in real contradiction of this idea that men need the priesthood to keep them active in the church/spiritually engaged is the fact that (if I’m remembering right) about half of young men AND about half of young women leave the church. Of course, the control experiment of not giving young men the priesthood hasn’t been done. But I bet the results would be the same.

    • Matthew G says:

      In regards to your comment that boys don’t need the priesthood, and that girls and boys apostatize similarly. Actually there is a times article that tells about how there are 3 girls for every 2 boys. The article goes on that men have the ‘pick of the litter’ because there are so many girls compared to boys. If you gave girls the priesthood, do you think boys would pass the sacrament? No, they’d just let the girls take over. What then? Wouldn’t more boys apostatize? What would happen with such a high ratio of girls to boys if they did? “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it.” Both girls and boys would suffer.
      I do believe the underlying premise that boys have their own set of gifts and abilities, and girls theirs. Boys have a desire for duty, and show love through action, such as passing the sacrament, but when they have someone else willing to do a task for them, they are more than willing to pawn off that task. Girls are born with remnants of charity and kindness, but they try to define their self worth by how well they execute something, and they feel obligated to do a task within their reach, or they feel guilty. It’s a bad combination if you ask me. Girls have stayed true without the priesthood, and I don’t see an immediate need for them to have it. (The times article had data from 2008, so I feel it is relevant to this old comment).

      • This is a good example of looking at the issue with a male point of view. Research shows that men are more likely than women to leave a religion when they are unsatisfied, so some men assume that women who stay must be fine with things as they are, simply because they are not reacting in the same way that a male would. Also, the emphasis in this comment is on how excluding women benefits males, not on how it affects women.

  2. amelia says:

    this is a bit of a tangent, but you allude to it and it’s been on my mind so here it goes:

    this idea that women are more “sacred” or “spiritual” is directly connected to the argument that they need to be protected, by the men, from the contaminating influences of the world. now mormons don’t do much with this idea explicitly. we do tend to treat modesty as if it were solely about the display of women’s bodies, which is a version (much, much less extreme of course) of the idea that women should be hidden from men’s view. and we stress that women’s places is in the home, not the world, which i think has something to do with this idea. but the one that drives me crazy is the argument that we know nothing about god the mother because she is so sacred and holy that she must be protected by god, which leads him to keeping us in ignorance so we don’t profane her name. really. so what you’re saying is that god has put a burqa on his partner? must keep her invisible for fear some dirty fallen being will get the wrong idea or call her names. fascinating.

    like i said, that’s a bit tangential to your original post, Alisa. However, i do think that this kind of reasoning–that women are so refined and pure and spiritual that they need to be revered within the organization/home and protected outside it–is of a kind with the explanation that we are kept in ignorance about our goddess because she would be contaminated by our knowing about her. and they are both pretty packages which conceal deeply disgusting sexism.

    setting aside my tangent, i very, very much agree with your post. the sexism in the church is by no means directed exclusively against women. and this idea that men are somehow inherently spiritually inferior to women is perhaps the most harmful of the sexist teachings about men’s gender roles. the problem is that the only way to justify and come to peace with a deeply sexist system is to reinforce that sexism as if it were nature instead of nurture. so long as the structure and governance of the church is by definition sexist, we’ll continue to deal with the members of the church–both men and women–reinforcing the same sexist teachings that demean themselves and others and cause enormous psychological harm. i don’t know how people can stay otherwise.

  3. Reese Dixon says:

    Amen.

    I know it doesn’t add much to the conversation, but that’s all I thought at the end of this piece. Amen in agreement, and amen in prayer.

  4. Lorene says:

    Thank you for this post! I, too, have a little boy and I worry about how to raise him to be a good man, like his father and grandfathers, and not like the men portrayed in “the world.”

    I found this especially poignant: …”it’s no excuse to harm others in the process of working out your own self-doubt.” I think if everyone would think about this a little more, we would be saved a lot of grief. Thank you for posting today!

  5. Ann says:

    Hi,
    I’m new around here, and might be a little shy at first.

    I LOVE this little article. It echoes so many of my own feelings. I am not yet a mother, but I have been married for six years. I often cringe when women are portrayed as more spiritual than men. I would like to hear more often that fatherhood is just as sacred as motherhood.

    I have so many thoughts in my head and heart right now, but in trying to be succinct, I will just say that I agree whole-heartedly.

  6. Jana says:

    I almost always mentally tally the numbers of men and women at Quaker functions–because I’m continuingly curious if it’s true that men will ‘opt out’ of church activity if they aren’t given power positions. So far I’ve found the numbers are usually about equal, with the numbers of women tending to be slightly higher as a result of having an aged population that includes many widows.

  7. Paul says:

    Thanks for this lovely post and for your thoughts.

    I’m a sensitive father of seven, important to them (I hope!) for more than just my bread-winning abilities (at least my dear wife tells me so).

    I think the priesthood-men childbirth-women discussion does degenerate to an assumption of spiritual superiority (or maturity), but shouldn’t. All it suggests is that there are differences, but shouldn’t mean there are inherent weaknesses on either side.

    I have a male friend who is disappointed everytime he hears someone repeat that idea that Mormon men typically marry above themselves. While it’s meant to compliment women, he argues that it suggests that it implies that they must be unwise or foolish because they therefore must marry beneath themselves. He says (and I agree) that’s not fair to women or men.

  8. Kaimi says:

    Great post, Alisa. I’m sure that your enhanced feminine spirituality helped you write it. 🙂

  9. Vada says:

    I definitely agree with this. Most of our teachings on both men and women are pretty flawed and damaging to both sexes.

    This is the same reason I hate motherhood=priesthood talks (one of which was given in our Mother’s Day Sacrament Meeting, and I was pretty happy that my 2yo started whining and I had an excuse to leave). Saying that motherhood and priesthood are equivalent completely negates the role of fatherhood, which in my opinion is a vital and essential role, complementary and equivalent to motherhood. But we’re trying so hard to make women feel better about not having the priesthood that we end up denigrating and ignoring an important role that men play.

  10. Alisa says:

    Emily U, thank you! You bring up an interesting idea that women are just as apt to leave as men (as we’ve explored in some recent blog posts here). While there seem to be more women in the LDS Church, I find that it’s about the same at other churches too, as Jana points out.

    Reese – thanks!

    Ann – Welcome! With you and Lorene I would add that it pains me to see men discriminated against in LDS conversation. When poeple disparage them and use stereotypes, they’re also putting those labels and actions on the men I love – my son, my husband, my father, etc. They deserve more than that. Instead of absolving my concerns that women are appreciated in the Church, they turn around and show how men are more a necessary evil. And that, I think, offends the Spirit just as much as discrimination against women.

  11. Alisa says:

    Paul, this makes so much sense: “[…] there are differences, but shouldn’t mean there are inherent weaknesses on either side.”

    I fully agree (and embrace!) many of our gender differences, but think they have little to do with inherent spirituality or Priesthood. I think there’s something to be said that we address God as “Heavenly Father” in our Church meetings. Fatherhood obviously means something important to Him.

    Amelia, I love your tangent. You’re spot on that sometimes when people desire to have control over other people, information, or things, they call them “sacred” to allow for that control. I’m not just talking about LDS culture, as this is seen in other religions and cultures as well and seems to be a way of the world.

    As I mentioned, I decided to meditate on what sacredness really means, and the answer I was given was that all people are sacred, not just women.

  12. Alisa says:

    Kaimi – you know it!

    Vada – I know. It seems like we’re caught in a loop. That doesn’t help women or men.

  13. corktree says:

    Thank you for this. With an upcoming first (and probably only) son, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot and haven’t been able to understand. I mean, I can understand it intellectually and agree without ever having a son of my own, but I am finding myself wondering how having such a deep and personal connection to an infant boy might change things. I look forward to looking at my son without any filters but love and coming to a clearer understanding, not only of our differences, but our similarities. I can’t believe that there is any inherent spiritual imbalance based on gender alone.

  14. Alisa says:

    corktree, you said it better than I ever could.

  15. corktree says:

    Alisa, I thought you said it beautifully, and it helps me to be patient as I wait to understand these things better, and to actually look forward to having the same experience with my own son, which is something I’ve been nervous about not comprehending.

  16. Alisa says:

    corktree, I too was nervous, and surprised even, when I found out I was having a boy. I even had to come face-to-face with some negative beliefs and assumptions I had about men. I began to work out a strong place, a balance, for the masculine in the middle of a feminist awakening I was experiencing. I grew more through my pregnancy than I otherwise would have.

    I wish you the best on your new journey as well!

  17. Jana says:

    Ann: Welcome! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  18. kmillecam says:

    My husband R and I have been joking a lot lately about his “divine role” because our one-year-old is completely enamored with him lately. Little E will cry for da-da when he falls, save all his biggest laughs and excitements for R, and I keep teasing R that it just doesn’t make sense, since I am the one who is supposed to nurture. And even though we joke about it, it always ends up being serious in the end. After rolling our eyes, R usually shakes his head and talks about how much he loves E and wants to nurture him. Why wouldn’t I want my sons to have TWO nurturing parents?!

    I really loved this post, Alisa. Beautifully and clearly written, and so spot-on. I hope the saints can begin to question where our gender expectations are coming from: God or elsewhere?

  19. Alisa says:

    kmillecam, I love this about your son and husband, and I think your insight is perfect for this discussion. I have a similar dynamic in my family: DH is a SAHD, and he has a very strong bond with our son. Everyone comments on how gentle and sensitive DH is to our son’s needs. There is definitely a nurturing and a love he has that is born out of selfless service. I think we really shortchange the entire family when we assume men cannot be as nurturing as women.

  20. nat kelly says:

    Um, can I steal your baby? So cute.

    Okay, going back now to actually read the post. Unbearably beautiful babies distract me big time.

  21. nat kelly says:

    Wow, Alisa. This is really beautiful. You captured so well the pressures that terrify me when I think of the prospect of becoming a parent. How do I protect my child from EVERYTHING and make sure their life is PERFECT?! I know we can’t and shouldn’t actually do this, but I can imagine the overwhelming impulse to try.

    I’ve also wondered about the negative messages our gender inequities send our sons. On the one hand, it is so powerful that they can identify with those 12-year boys passing the sacrament, with the kind men on the stand, with an all-powerful, all-loving male deity. But if they listen to the reasoning behind all those things, we’re in trouble.

    What about when our boys notice that a woman can teach their class by herself, but a man has to be “supervised”? It really pains my heart to imagine a little boy thinking to himself, “I’m going to be dangerous to children when I grow up.” I wish there was some way around all that.

  22. Alisa says:

    nat kelly, thank you! You bring up some good points. I think gender inequities – whether they’re the praising or demeaning kind – hurt children of both genders. I aslo favor team-teaching in primary for both women and men – I think that would be best for kids overall, not just to avoid abuse, but to share the load, keep kids interested, have someone to help with kids who have special needs, etc.

  23. Tiffany says:

    This was a very thoughtful piece of writing. I agree with what you wrote. I am the mother to four amazing boys. I find their spirituality amazing and humbling. To suggest that they are somehow inferior in their spiritual gifts is wrong.

  24. Kelly Ann says:

    Thank you for this post. Your son is lucky to have you as a mother!

  25. Craig says:

    It seems to me that the “men are spiritually deficient and therefore need the priesthood” rhetoric is almost exclusively about trying to convince women that they’re not being treated unfairly for being denied the priesthood, and to reinforce the idea that women, as more spiritual (and somehow therefore also more fragile and emotional) need the protection of more calloused men. It puts women on a pedestal, infantilising them and insulting their intelligence and strength.

    It’s demeaning to men to suggest that they need the priesthood to somehow make up for some deficit, but it’s even more demeaning towards women because even if they’re more spiritual, they’re still subject to authority and never wielders of it.

    It’s just one more way to keep women subservient by giving them the insulting illusion of equity while keeping all substantive forms of real, meaningful equality far from their reach.

    And in the end, making generalisations about either gender is always pointless. The number of individuals who exist outside the norm, whether it’s a real or imaginary one, is so great that the generalisation becomes restrictive and harmful at best.

  26. Alisa says:

    Thank you Tiffany and Kelly Ann!

    Craig, I agree with you about making generalizations. And yes, I do think that this idea that men are spiritually inferior comes from a way of justifying women’s roles in the Church. I also think it parallels and is reinforced by the negative ways men are stereotyped in society.

    For what it’s worth, I think that men are often stereotyped as foolish, selfish, or sex-crazed in society for some of the same reasons – that as a deeply sexist society we use this as a coping mechanism, making women comedic “straight men” to the antics of foolish comedic men because we’re afraid of being called out on our sexism. Unfortunately, this type of cover-up does nothing to create equality or understanding, and ends up reinforcing stereotypes that hurt everyone.

    But there are people who really believe this. The next time a sister is tempted to tout her spiritual superiority to all men, my hope is that she’ll pause and consider who she’s harming in the process.

  27. First of all, great post! I have two young sons, and they are as different as can be. And I don’t mean one is feminine and the other is masculine. They just came out on opposite ends of the personality spectrum.

    I too worry about societies pressures for stereotypical maleness. I talked with my husband about enrolling my oldest son in ballet (so that he could be with his best friend- a girl), and he said, “no way!”

    Now my husband is a liberal minded guy, but this seemed to cross a very real line for him. Sometimes it’s easier not to fight against norms, but the cost is limited opportunity.

  28. Chandelle says:

    I could not agree more with the sentiments expressed here. My partner and son are both tremendously sensitive, intuitive, empathic individuals. It pains me to see the way our culture discriminates against men. I can only hope that growing up with such a good example from his father will offer our son the guidance he needs to “own” his intrinsic nature. If not for feminism, I don’t believe I would have cast such a skeptical eye on our cultural models for masculinity. I do believe that men are suffering, just in different ways.

  29. Lynn says:

    Three thoughts.1) Humiliation is what I feel when the world is critical of what I believe. Humility is what I feel when I remember that God is judging me.
    2) God instructs us generally as a people/church and also personally as with Patriarchal Blessings and through the Holy Ghost. Ex. He has told us that fathers are to preside, provide, and protect, and mothers are to nurture and teach. Sometimes a mom needs to work and sometimes a Dad is” Mr.Mom”.(Don’t get hung up on the Hollywood/worldly thing) It is important to have confidence in the Lord through the Spirit so we don’t worry that we are rationalizing. Uncertainty leads to unnecessary defensiveness. Mothers can be strong AND sensible hearts of homes. I appreciated Sister Beck’s image of the” Lioness at the Gate”( BYU Women’s Conf.) and fathers can be tender nurturing heads of homes( as with my friend’s husband who got up eeexxtra early to take his and our daughter fishing at Girl’s Camp) 3) Pride, ignorance unkindness/even cruelty are tools of Satan and much more dangerous than gender bias orimagined inequalities.

  30. amelia says:

    Lynn,

    Why should mothers be the “hearts” and fathers the “heads” of homes? That feels limiting to me. Why can’t they together build both heart and head for their family? And I think the dichotomy you set up in your final point is a very false dichotomy. Of course pride, ignorance, unkindness, and cruelty are tools of Satan. But so are gender bias and inequality. We shouldn’t ignore the one in favor of addressing the other; instead we should address both. Becoming kinder, more compassionate, aware people will lead to addressing problems of gender bias and inequality. And addressing gender bias and inequality can foster kindness and humility and compassion.

  31. Alisa says:

    Lynn – I’m confused by your comment since it seems a little off from the subjects discussed here. I agree with you that pride is a sin – are you refering to the false sense of pride I refer to when women assume they are superior to men? Then I think we are in complete agreement, and that hits the main subject of this post. I just couldn’t tell if you were meaning to disagree with the post or not, or just bear your testimony on a series of topics. I would like to hear more specifically what experiences and challenges you face on this topic of women claiming superiority to men.

  32. Alisa says:

    mydearuniverse, Thanks! Oh I hope your son gets to do ballet if he wants to. Many men like to dance, and I’m of the opinion that ballet is a great foundation for many styles of dance.

    “I do believe that men are suffering, just in different ways.” Chandelle, I really see this too. And I want to ease that.

  33. Hank says:

    There’s a website called The Art of Manlyness (artofmanliness.com) that was founded by an LDS guy (The site is not targeted at the LDS). On that site there was a discussion about how men in the church are losing their masculinity. You may find it interesting.
    http://community.artofmanliness.com/group/ldsmen/forum/topics/does-current-church-culture

  34. Mormon Man says:

    This is a great article that I have shared with my own readers. Men and masculinity have been under attack for a long time, and it’s frustrating to see those attacks creep further and further into LDS culture. There are many things that make men and women different and will keep us from ever being equal. But one area where men and women are entirely equal is their capacity for spirituality.

  35. Alisa says:

    Hank, thanks for commenting and pointing me to these discussions. Truly fascinating. As you could guess, I agree with the commenters who are uncomfortable with the assumption that bishops or other ward members can compliment a wife but must degrade the husband at the same time. This is the kind of culture I hope will change by the time my child is a man. On the other hand, I was a little surprised at the commenters who really want to enforce gender stereotypes from society (men earn livings, women are “meak and submissive”). I think examples in the scriptures of the strong women we’re meant to emulate refute these: Upon exiting the garden, Eve immediately went out to work in physical labor for sustinence alongside Adam (they couldn’t afford to have strict gender inequality or division of labor, and in many ways she’s the example for us all). Ruth, Deborah, Anna and others either worked for money or spirituality that fulfilled duties akin to men.

  36. Alisa says:

    Mormon Man, thank you! I firmly agree with you on the equality of spirituality. I’m glad my article could resonate with you. I also think that there’s a gap in how we define “equality” when we look at gender, disability, ethnicity, or any other difference we observe in society. Many people think that “equality” means people have to be the “same.”

    For me, equality is how we treat people: Do we make sure one party does not have an unequal burden? Do we allow for people with unexpected (or non-stereotypical) talents to use them for their growth and the betterment of society? This is why I believe in making wheelchair ramps for the disabled and think it’s fair. It’s also why I support women being able to work/provide and have maternity leave and lactation stations and think it’s fair. It’s creating a level playingfield so that everyone has the same opportunity, even though we have celebrated differences among us.

  37. Lynn says:

    Amelia The church I believe in espouses universal truth, but that doesn’t mean that everyone understands every truth and principle. I think that “Mormon Culture” can only come from missing the mark. Husbands and wives can and should work together to have a proper balance of head and heart. I thought the examples I gave of my friends were kind of opposite to the stereotypes. My sister/friend is very capable in rule-making and rule enforcing, as well as budget managing And she works outside home. She speaks up boldly about community concerns. Still, she lives close to the Spirit and is a loving Mom and homemaker. She’s even a good mom to other people’s kids ! Her husband does preside in their home, yet he is unusually attentive and involved with the kids. He is also artistic, good with pets, and a teaching kind of Dad. He has great heart. They are good examples of somewhat atypical gender roles. Best of all, they are excellent examples of balance, both individually and as a team.

    People at church do sometimes say “a mother is the heart of a home” and it is both intended and accepted as a positive image. Why is everyone so defensive?

    I guess I wasn’t careful enough in my writing because my second thought actually had three ideas. The first one being that even God sometimes speaks in generalities i.e. Doctrine and Covenants1:30… the.only church… with which I am well pleased, speaking collectively and not individually- My second idea was that we have access to a higher power that can reassure us when we are on the right track. It’s so important to have confidence in true concepts because then nothing can hurt or derail us. (specifically, stereotyping or gender bias.) The third idea was that there are always exceptions to generalities. Generalities are not intended to be taken personally.

  38. Lynn says:

    Alisa.You are right to wonder what I was saying. I realize the humility/ humiliation stuff wasn’t relevant. However, all the negativity and critical comments abt church teachings and church teachers /speakers got to me. Many on this site seem to be conscientious, and caring people but I strongly disagree about “the structure and governance of the church being sexist” I know wrong ideas leak into peoples’ thinking. I just don’t believe it’s rampant. Even if it were, for myself, I can honestly say that I can’t think of a single comment re: superior spirituality of either men or women in the last 5 years of regular church attendance. On tv there was a crazy guy with some bad attitudes abt gals. Lastly, I vaguely remember a brief conversation with a mother who felt that there was some bit gender disparity at school.
    Probably, if you avoid television,….. maybe public schools, love your children and teach them to love God, they won’t have too tough a time sorting out all the garbage.PS How can you know that some seemingly clueless sister in RS isn’t saying her piece out of desperate attempt to feel better since her miserable marriage leaves her lonely and terrified?

  39. Rachel says:

    This is a beautiful and thoughtful post, Alisa. Thank you for writing it so many years ago.

  40. Andrew R. says:

    The problem with this, along with a host of other LDS Doctrine/fable/theory issues, is that as human beings we have an almost insatiable desire for answers. We want to know why, how, when, what and where?

    But not everything has been, or will be, revealed in this life. Indeed the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that much pertaining to creation will not be shared until at least the Millennium, and perhaps beyond that.

    Gender differences is one of those things. We have no actual scriptural doctrine relating to male and female. We have a lot of things that men are supposed to do, and that women are supposed to do, and that we are all supposed to do. Sorting these out has been within the remit of Prophets, Apostles, other leaders, couples and individuals.

    It is certainly true that some are more spiritually in tune than others. However, the only divide is not gender based. It is also different.

    My wife is always “made ready” for things that happen. She is aware of them coming at us, and is ready for them. I am better at making the snap decisions, knowing in the moment what is the right path. These are just how we are. I put no store in her femininity being the root cause of her awareness, not my priesthood at being able to make the quick choices. But I can see why someone might read into them as such. Our connection to the divine is simply different, just as our connections with earthly parents differ from sibling to sibling.

  1. December 19, 2011

    […] Alisa, a blogger at the Mormon feminist blog The Exponent, explores this last concern when she writes about her sense that her newborn son is absolutely as perfect and full of potential as any […]

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