On the Sexist Nature of Benevolent Patriarchy

On the Sexist Nature of Benevolent Patriarchy

Editor’s Note: When Amelia originally wrote On the Sexist Nature of Benevolent Patriarchy on August 28, 2011, it ignited one of the most animated debates we have ever had here at the Exponent, quickly generating hundreds of comments.  It is one of our most viewed posts of all time, in spite of the fact that somehow, this post became inaccessible in our archive several months ago.  Our readers are not happy about this.  Neither am I.  As we have been unable to fix the problem, I am reposting this important essay.

You can view the original discussion at http://web.archive.org/web/20120427181058/http://www.the-exponent.com/2011/08/21/8645/  thanks to Wayback Machine Internet Archiving.

On the Sexist Nature of Benevolent Patriarchy

Last Friday Modern Mormon Men featured two alternative viewpoints on patriarchy: “modern patriarchy” and “reluctant patriarchy.” I was wary of reading the piece on “modern patriarchy” based on a couple of quotes I’d already seen from it, but I read it anyway.  Because I like Modern Mormon Men.  Because I have been saying for a very long time that gender equity will not be a reality in a meaningful way until we seriously examine the gender roles we impose on men, as well as those we impose on women.  And I respect that the MMM bloggers are engaging in that project—the project of asking what it means to be a Modern, Mormon, Man.

Well I read that post, and I tried to do so with an open mind.  And I hit this gem on the nature of “righteous dominion”:

It is children heeding, submitting to, and honoring the counsel of their parents as their parents act within righteous patriarchy. It is wives hearkening to, submitting to, and honoring the counsel of their husbands as their husbands act within righteous patriarchy. And, it is husbands leading, persuading, and gently guiding their wives and children as they follow, honor and submit to the counsel of God.

I felt physically ill.  I kept reading.  And I found an even bigger doozy:

There must be order in all things and there must be one person to be the head of the family. God has chosen men and, for better or for worse, it is this order that we can utilize to edify our families or to crush ourselves against. I know that it is when there is a break in this chain of honor and counsel — the chain that leads from children to wives to husbands and to God — that there is tension, trauma and tragedy in the home.

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On the Sexist Nature of Benevolent Patriarchy

Last Friday Modern Mormon Men featured two alternative viewpoints on patriarchy: “modern patriarchy” and “reluctant patriarchy.” I was wary of reading the piece on “modern patriarchy” based on a couple of quotes I’d already seen from it, but I read it anyway.  Because I like Modern Mormon Men.  Because I have been saying for a very long time that gender equity will not be a reality in a meaningful way until we seriously examine the gender roles we impose on men, as well as those we impose on women.  And I respect that the MMM bloggers are engaging in that project—the project of asking what it means to be a Modern, Mormon, Man.

Well I read that post, and I tried to do so with an open mind.  And I hit this gem on the nature of “righteous dominion”:

It is children heeding, submitting to, and honoring the counsel of their parents as their parents act within righteous patriarchy. It is wives hearkening to, submitting to, and honoring the counsel of their husbands as their husbands act within righteous patriarchy. And, it is husbands leading, persuading, and gently guiding their wives and children as they follow, honor and submit to the counsel of God.

I felt physically ill.  I kept reading.  And I found an even bigger doozy:

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A Gospel of Love

Recently I was listening to Krista Tippett’s On Being (a favorite public radio show of mine); her guest Kate Braestrup (a chaplain to the game wardens in the parks and forests of Maine) made a comment about Christianity that had me first a bit angry and then a bit sad. Here’s what she had to say:

Krista Tippett: You point something out that’s very simple, but really striking and unsettling in good way and bad. That even when the miracle . . . is of a life restored that is always a temporary restoration and you say that most of the time, perhaps, a miracle can only be the resurrection of love beside the unchanged fact of death.”

Kate Braestrup: “This is an argument I have, probably a continuous argument that I have with Christianity, I always felt that it was answering a question I wasn’t asking.

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Mourn with Those that Mourn: The Problems with Mormon Funerals

A few years ago, my dear friend J’s father, D, died.  He was a very sweet man and his children wanted to honor his memory at the funeral.  D had grown up in rural Idaho and had always loved the old 50s cowboy shows; “Home on the Range” was one of his favorite songs.  When J and her siblings met with D’s bishop to discuss funeral arrangements, they indicated that they’d like to have someone sing “Home on the Range” in D’s honor.  The bishop referred to the Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI), which says: “Music for funerals might include prelude music, an opening hymn, special musical selections, a closing hymn, and postlude music. Simple hymns and other songs with gospel messages are most appropriate for these occasions.”  While this passage doesn’t explicitly forbid secular music, D’s bishop interpreted it in that fashion and refused to approve using “Home on the Range” during D’s funeral.  J’s siblings went along with the bishop with no real resistance, and J was left feeling sad that they could not honor their father with this song he had loved.

This is not the only Mormon funeral I know of that hasn’t been very considerate of the mourners.

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Book Review: Magdalene by Moriah Jovan

Power, prostitution, sex, revenge, and . . . a Mormon bishop?  I was intrigued.  How could a romance, complete with explicit sex, involve a Mormon bishop as its hero?  I confess that was the only reason I picked up Moriah Jovan’s Magdalene after her editor named it “the Mormon book of the year” on an internet forum.  I am a romance reader–romance as in bodice-ripping, explicit-sex-containing, titillating romance, not just chick lit.  I know the tropes and themes of romance novels well.  And I just could not imagine how this genre could lend itself to telling the story of a Mormon bishop without violating the truths about what it means to be not only an active Mormon, but a bishop.  So I picked up the book to find out how Jovan, a practicing Mormon herself, accomplished that feat.

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