Been there, (was) done (like) that.

What a week for Hollywood. I have my eye on my newsfeed, and every twenty-nine minutes, someone new steps forward and details yet another disgusting, humiliating encounter with a certain movie mogul.

It isn’t that people are shocked. Nobody in their right mind looks to the movie industry (in almost any country, I’ll hazard a guess) to get their ethical bearings. If you’d like to fish in a cesspool for your moral compass, that is surely your choice, but I don’t suppose you’ll have very much company. Does anyone really need The New York Times to make the case that Hollywood can be and often is, in a word, gross?

No, Harvey Weinstein’s transgressions against younger, vulnerable women are not shocking. The sheer magnitude of his bad behavior is bloodcurdling, and the fact that so many people covered for him is hideous, but people are not clutching their pearls and insisting that they are “shocked! shocked I tell you!”

Also not shocking: sexism itself, its ubiquity, the everlasting universality of it, the fact that I do not have a single girlfriend who has not experienced it in one form or another, at some point in her life. Big incident or small, nasty transaction, everyone has her* story. Everyone.

Do some of these stories happen within the context of the international LDS church? Oh yes, and it is heartbreaking. But again, it is not shocking. We have a system of church governance in which the power lies entirely with men. We are literally structured to ensure that a gendered power imbalance will exist anywhere the Church does, and that girls and women will be subject to a disproportionate amount of what I will not-so-fondly call unrighteous dominion.

This is quite a different issue than sex and the priesthood. Church administration can be peeled away from a male-only priesthood and discussed on its own merits, or lack thereof. In other words, we can address one thing without addressing the other, and that is what I’m doing right now. In the space of one General Conference to the next, the Church could address its own staggering gender inequalities, and (with nary a “thus saith the Lord” or doctrinal dictum) take radical steps to fix them. We’re great at radical change. We could do it.

My husband points out (and I fully agree with him) that it’s a very fallen world. But could we not be such a part of it?

*and sometimes his

EmilyHB

Emily HB is a hausfrau living in Utah with delusions of grandeur & survival, a writer of books, a hoper of all things and a believer in several of them.

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6 Responses

  1. Ebopper says:

    For starters, we need an official “How’s My Driving?” sign for every bishop’s door, for the education and protection of his flock.

    Reproduce the relevant sections of scripture and Handbook 1 describing how a leader is supposed to conduct himself and what questions may appropriately be asked in an interview. For example, asking only “Do you live the law of chastity?” and not going into detailed questions about it. As another example, the section in D&C 121:41
    “41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;”

    42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—”

    At the bottom the “How’s My Driving?” sign will say “If I violate these principles, then I am abusing my position. Please call 1-800-ACCOUNT to report unrighteous dominion.”

    This ought to be uncontroversial, which is why I think it’s a good place to start where people can agree. Although culturally, we would probably have a really hard time with it.

    Of course, this suggestion isn’t really a radical restructuring of the power dynamic. But I think even people with a very conservative/traditional view of church leadership ought to be able to see the logic of it, so it could be something we do before April 2018.

    • Emily says:

      hah! it’s a start, Ebopper! the whole “confess to the bishop” is such a naked power move in itself, it still takes my breath away. that’s not a comment on the many, many, many amazing bishops out there (I’ve had my share, including currently). the system is a corruption.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    This week has been an incredibly difficult one for me. Gender inequality in the Church brings me to tears on a regular basis and then gender inequality outside of the Church does also! Where is this middle ground? Why does it have to be so conservative on one side and so horribly lax on the other? I miss second wave, anti-porn feminism! But yes, as we are all talking about how horrible Harvey Weinstein is, we aren’t talking about how systemic gender inequality and sexism is in the Church. I always perceived the Church as a refuge until I paid more attention and realized that in this regard it is not 🙁 Thanks for this post!

    • EmilyHB says:

      Elizabeth, yes to everything you have written. And despite everything, I still believe in the change that can come when people (men) at the top realize that the time has come for them to stop being *followers* of false traditions, and become true leaders. Like you, I long for the Church to be an honest sanctuary from the world. That will require serious introspection and change. I believe in change.

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