Breaking the Patriarchal Grip

Last week we attended the mission homecoming for the son of one of my dear friends in our ward. Because it was over 100 degrees and the old houses in downtown Denver have notoriously bad ventilation I chose to wear a sundress to stay as cool as possible. The sleeves of this dress covered the garments I was wearing but it would probably still be considered a sleeveless dress. As we were heading out the door I grabbed a cardigan only to be stopped by mr. mraynes. When asked what I was doing I explained that though the dress covered my garments it was still sleeveless and I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable around my fellow saints. mr. mraynes argued that the dress was perfectly acceptable, that I was covering what I had covenanted to cover and that reasonable people like me needed to stand against the increasingly pharisaical dress code for Mormon females. He was right and it was such a hot day that I left the cardigan at home. But the whole time we were there I tugged on those thick straps, wishing they were just a little bit longer. Nobody said anything and I really doubt anybody cared but it didn’t stop me from feeling uncomfortable.

We could talk about the skewed rhetoric that influenced my psychology in this experience but that is not the point of this post. Rather, I want to talk about the role progressive men should play in helping the cause of gender equality within the church. My interaction with mr. mraynes provides a low stakes exercise to analyze this complicated issue. As I said above, mr. mraynes was right–my garments were covered and there is nothing modest in suffering through heatstroke so that one more inch of my arms could be hidden. But however right mr. mraynes was, wearing a sleeveless dress to a Mormon function is a political statement and as such, I should have been in complete control of that decision. (I should note here that had I been insistent on the cardigan I’m sure mr. mraynes would have backed off).

So what should mr. mraynes have done? This is a tricky question and one that feminists have been dealing with forever. There are those who believe that men have no place in the movement and should keep their ideas and actions to themselves. This is an extreme position and I think that the majority of feminists, myself included, believe that men play a vital role in advancing the cause of equality for women. It is my belief that we absolutely need men, especially in a culture so steeped in patriarchy, fighting the fight right alongside us and building bridges where women cannot. As Lorie Stromberg says, ‘men can act as equality missionaries…modeling equitable behavior and helping us convince the male hierarchy that change is necessary and desirable.”

This takes us back to that original question, how is this to be done? I don’t think mr. mraynes should have kept his mouth shut, I’m thankful he said something because sometimes I do need a little push to act on something that should be acted against. On the other hand, this was not really the statement I wanted to spend political capitol on and in following mr. mraynes’ directive rather than my own heart I was not fully committed to the ideology he wanted me to stand for.

In fairness to my husband, if somebody is at fault for my experience it is me for not explicitly saying that I wanted to wear the cardigan. mr. mraynes is a true feminist man and has always believed that the feminist cause is one for women to lead and him to be supportive of. And this is the key for me. In order to truly be a male feminist you must listen to women and let them lead the fight for their own liberation. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of feminism and all women.

There have been Mormon men who purport to be allies of the feminist cause but, unhappy with the pace of change, push for radical action that many of us intuitively know to be the wrong approach. Perhaps these men have the best of intentions, but to women who have been struggling with this for years, it just seems like another man telling us what to do. Mormon feminists understand better than anybody the consequences for radical actions like seeking the priesthood or praying to Heavenly Mother. There have been real women who have paid dearly for their action and this understandably makes us cautious. To mansplain to us and then to usurp female initiative and power is an insult and betrays the latent sexism of these men.

Women have been and must continue to be the prime leaders of the movement for gender equality within the Mormon church. Listen and counsel with us but remember this is our liberation and we must own it in a way that feels authentic to us. If progressive Mormon men really want to break the patriarchal grip then it is time to recognize women’s authority.

Mraynes

Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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46 Responses

  1. meekmildmagnificent says:

    I love it — sexism in the service of feminism. The dripping irony of the implicit assumption of this post that men are just too obtuse to get it . . . that they inherently lack the tact to be politically effective. You go girl! No blind spot is too large in the cause of pointing out unfairness based on gender. Given the inherent inferiority of the male mind-set, maybe we should just consider them a pre-feminist species beyond which feminists have evolved?

    • Mraynes says:

      Do you have something productive to add to this conversation? It’s perfectly fine to disagree with my thesis and conclusion but disagree with it on the merits. You are in violation of our comment policy, specifically #3 & #4. If you have personal experience that informs your opinion differently please share that, otherwise keep the snark to yourself.

    • Whitney says:

      This isn’t what the author is saying at all.
      “In order to truly be a male feminist you must listen to women and let them lead the fight for their own liberation. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of feminism and all women.” This is what it comes down to–feminism tells us that historically, men haven’t listened to women, and that they need to begin to listen. Period.

  2. Lala says:

    Actually, meekmildmagnificent, the kind of male-inferiority talk you’re speaking of seems a lot more prevalent over the pulpit than it did in this post. men needing the priesthood because they’re inherently less spiritual, more women in the Celestial kingdom than men, women being naturally more nurturing, etc.) Maybe when it’s masked by self-deprecating superiority it feels more palatable.

    Mraynes, I will say, when I initially read this anecdote about you and your husband, I was a little jealous. I think a lot of women on the bloggernacle would love to have husbands that are so progressive and supportive of our cause. I’m sure you already do, but, don’t forget to count yourself lucky.

    However, I agree with you about the importance of men recognizing the times when we have good reason to be cautious. We don’t always lay back because we’re being scared or meek. It’s important for men and women to recognize that sometimes our hesitations are (wisely) calculated ones.

    The feminist/feminist’s husband dynamic is delicate. It sounds like you and your husband have a pretty good thing going.

    • Mraynes says:

      You are absolutely right that this is a tricky dynamic, Lala. This anecdote is not a perfect metaphor mostly because mr. mraynes is not the kind of fake feminist man I describe in the post, he didn’t force me to go sleeveless so that I could make a point, I chose to do it even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do. So maybe I should have included a paragraph exhorting Mormon feminists to really own this movement and not to defer to men even though that’s what feels natural to do. Anyway, I do count myself lucky and know that men like my husband will be instrumental in moving our fight for gender equality forward. Thanks for the comment!

  3. CatherineWO says:

    I have watched my own husband walk this fine line between trying to help and further the feminist cause, but not take charge (which is, culturally, what he has been conditioned to do all his life). A big aha moment for his was when he realized that he really didn’t understand how it feels to be a woman in a patriarchal culture, that it really isn’t possible for him to understand what 60 years of living as a LDS woman has done to me. That realization alone, the humility of it, opened his eyes to greater awareness (and changed our relationship with each other). I do believe that men must be an integral part of the eventual realization of equality of the sexes, just as they were in the fight for women’s voting rights. Changing attitudes is just as important as is changing laws and policies.

    • Mraynes says:

      Thank you for sharing this, Catherine! I agree with you that it takes a lot of humility for men to truly understand that they cannot know what it is like to be a Mormon woman and then to step back and support us in this cause. This is not a natural thing for Mormon men to do and it understandably raises some defensiveness in them, as the first commenter so aptly proved. I believe we come to this Earth to push ourselves in ways that feel at times uncomfortable. It does feel more comfortable for me to defer to my husband but I also know that in order to fulfill the full measure of my creation I have to stand up and lead, just as I’m sure my Heavenly Mother does.

      Anyway, I’m so grateful that you shared your experience and that your husband had the bravery to examine his privilege in that way. Hopefully more men will do the same because they really are an important piece of this fight. Thanks!

  4. janeannechovy says:

    Yes, it is a sad truth that men who can talk the feminist talk are pretty thick on the ground, but those who can truly walk the walk are not.

    • Mraynes says:

      It is a sad truth. And I don’t think it is from any malicious intent, it is just unexamined privilege and the hubris to believe that because they’re “progressive” they have all the answers.

      • Whitney says:

        Are they really so obtuse as to think they have “the answer”? You could be right, I really don’t know. I usually just chalk it up to personal preference when I see some individuals pushing for more radical activism. I assume they are saying, “this is what I want to do, this is what I feel will be effective,” as opposed to “this is what *everyone* should do.” But I could be wrong in that assumption. Am I? (I’m sincerely asking, no snark.)

        I do think that a related issue is whether it’s possible or necessary to have a kind of united movement, that has leaders and unified goals and actions. I’ve always understood social movements as having groups located along a spectrum–some asking for radical change and some asking for more moderate change–but there is a place for both kinds of groups in any movement. I completely agree with the OP, that feminist men need to listen to feminist women. But at the same time, what do we do when individual men and women disagree? It’s a tough question.

      • Mraynes says:

        It is a tough question, Whitney, and one that I’m not sure any of us have a good answer to. I don’t believe that women should have absolute veto power over men but I do think that their experience and opinions should hold a little more weight. I am personally for as much dialog as possible so if I’m imagining a situation like this in my head it would be a man advocating for a radical action followed by women expressing their concern and the reason for it, and then the debate goes from there. In the end the group could use the Mormon tradition of common consent to make the decision. But if the majority of women disagree with the action then that feminist man needs to accept women’s authority on this matter.

        Unfortunately, there has been a couple of cases quite recently where these supposedly feminist men have refused to listen to women’s concerns and then been quite critical of the “Mormon feminist elite” when their ideas have been rejected. I haven’t detailed these cases extensively here because honestly, I don’t think it’s worth the effort or attention it would bring these men.

        Anyway, I appreciate your comment and completely agree that there will always be people, both men and women, along the spectrum of radicalism. If we really believe in the ideal of equality and social justice all of those opinions must be respected and valued.

  5. Jared says:

    THIS. “In order to truly be a male feminist you must listen to women and let them lead the fight for their own liberation. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of feminism and all women.”

    I am so grateful to my wife who has opened my eyes to these issues and helped me be a constructive male feminist.

  6. Nate C. says:

    This is SUCH a good post and a very difficult dynamic. When EmilyCC first started getting involved with Exponent more than 10 years ago now I remember being so uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to show support without being part of the problem. I slowly worked up to different levels of involvement.

    However, I find that, as a man, every time I try to get more involved in feminist organizations, I almost always offend one or more members of the organization(s). Now, admittedly, I am a somewhat offensive person to begin with, but at times I have just wanted to walk away from feminism. People made it painfully obvious that me and my brand of ninja-patriarchy (not my word, but I wish it was) was not welcome because I can’t understand, I am part of the problem, I will never know what its like…

    Yes. I rarely, if ever, feel the pain of gender discrimination.
    Yes. I inherited and unintentionally perpetuate the problem by virtue of being a successful white male.
    Yes. I will never know, first-hand, what it is like to be systemically discriminated against because of my gender.

    But I still want to help.

    • Mraynes says:

      I think you demonstrate perfectly why this is such a complicated issue, Nate! For what it’s worth, I have never once found you or your commitment to help the feminist cause offensive. Maybe part of an explanation for your experience is that lot of women become feminists because they have been deeply hurt or betrayed by men and patriarchy. In this case, I can understand why some of these women chafe at men who want to help. I do, however, think this viewpoint is dying out as we get further away from second wave feminism. I think the feminists of my generation really do want men to help and recognize the important role they play in making changes.

      I think it’s also important for women feminists to be careful not to condescend to the men who want to help. I know I have been guilty at times of throwing that “you can’t understand because you are a man” at mr. mraynes and that has never worked well. Just because he’s a man doesn’t mean he can’t work to understand or have empathy with what I’m feeling. I think both sides need to give and take here: women need to learn to articulate exactly what and why something is problematic and not get frustrated when men don’t initially understand. On the other hand, men need to take us at our word that something is hurtful and not automatically assume that because they’ve had a different experience, women’s experience is invalid.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, I think it is really helpful!

    • Annie B. says:

      I dunno, I’ve realized a lot lately that patriarchy can be harmful to men too, there are many instances recorded in the Journal of Discourses and elsewhere where men were shamed and belittled and sometimes even stripped of their church offices or callings, if out of respect for the wishes of their first wife they refused to practice polygamy. Even current LDS sermons echo similarly discriminating sentiments, like ones stating single men are a menace to society, or promoting a career to provide for offspring over being a stay-at-home dad and not openly acknowledging that either is appropriate, or preparing young men for either scenario. So I only blame men so far as when shown the inequality and given time to weigh it out they still choose to ascribe to some of the negative things they were taught. And even then, I try to be patient, because I think some part of them still may be well-meaning… just unable for some reason to let understanding and compassion override obedience to what they’ve been taught. This doesn’t mean I’ll be silent on the matter. But yeah, I don’t think it helps to view all men as part of the problem. I am still learning how not to do this though. It’s hard not to over-correct sometimes.

      • Mraynes says:

        Amen. I think you’re distinction is absolutely spot-on. I don’t think it is useful to demonize all men, even the men who don’t get it yet. Where the real problem lies is those men who declare they are so progressive and yet refuse to take women’s concerns seriously and will do absolutely the opposite of what women want under the guise that they know better. Luckily I think men like this are few and far between but they do make it more difficult for the men like Nate who actually do want to help in productive ways.

        Human interaction is so complicated and I think the best bet always is to be as generous with everybody as you can. Great comment!

  7. Showing your shoulders, even though your garments were covered, is the same as rolling in manure and getting attention from pigs. I kid, bitterly.

    I think the struggle between the culture and actual doctrine is so difficult. Sometimes I find myself knowing absolutely that something is just part of the culture, but it’s so hard to let it go because of how deeply engrained it is. Props to you and Mr. Mraynes for taking that bold step, because I don’t know if I could.

    I also have to note that I’ve been shocked to find that ever since I went through the temple, I could totally show off more skin than I ever thought acceptable and still be just fine. In a way, it bugs me because all this time I thought I was preparing, but I guess I really should have been fine wearing really lowcut shirts . . .

    • Mraynes says:

      Lol! It really is funny, in a pull your hair out kind of way, how our rhetoric surrounding modesty has no basis at all in reality. As you rightly point out, depending on which garments you’re wearing you can wear something sleeveless and/or low cut. Big sigh.

      I agree with you that it is hard to tell the difference between what is engrained culturally, what is your personality, and what Mormon doctrine actually is. mr. mraynes and I were having a discussion last night surrounding this post and he was completely baffled as to what he should have done better. As I mentioned above, this situation is not a perfect metaphor but I think we both walked away from it more resolved to make sure I was not deferring to him just because he’s the man and that’s what feels natural to us. It is amazing how deeply that is entrenched in us even though we both think it’s complete hogwash. It’s going to take both men and women to lean into this discomfort if we have any hope of rooting out patriarchy. Thanks for the comment!

    • sejl says:

      I have never showed as much cleavage as I do now that I have my G’s. End of story.

  8. Twila says:

    I loved your dress. Didn’t give it a second thought, accept wishing I had worn something a bit breezier.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to shift the conversation from modesty as covering your body in a socially acceptable way to the modesty of the homes we own, the cars we drive etc. My personal opinion is that Christ could care less whether you wear a sleeveless dress or not, but he does care that I went overboard on my kitchen remodel when that money could have gone to help someone in real need. Different conversation entirely, but I’d love that to be the topic of a young women’s lesson.

    • Mraynes says:

      Thanks, Twila! I absolutely agree that our modesty rhetoric needs to shift away from what women are wearing to be more inclusive of behavior that is immodest. That would go a long way to getting rid of a lot of the problematic gender aspects when we talk about modesty. Hopefully YW leaders will start to include lessons like this in the new curriculum.

    • Whitney says:

      Well-said, Twila!

  9. ifrit says:

    Totally shallow offhand comment here, but I must know which garments you were wearing that let you wear a sundress without showing them. Also, great post. That is all.

  10. Mraynes says:

    Lol! Isn’t it funny how you have different garments that work with different clothes? The garment top was a cotton/poly, scoop neck with the boob cups (I’m sure there is an actual name for it but I don’t know what it is). These particular tops have cap sleeves but you can totally where them under anything with thick straps. This particular dress has 2 1/2 in. sleeves with ruffles around the arm hole and it perfectly hides my garments without me having to push them in or fold them. Hope that helps!

  11. Annie B. says:

    Yeah I’m also a little jealous of the support. My husband is still in the “not really sure about all this” stage. He’s willing to listen and he even backed me up emotionally when I talked with our Bishop and Stake president about my anxiety over some issues, but he doesn’t always understand why certain things cause me so much anxiety and depression, and it can feel insulting at times to have to explain or point out the specific doctrine or harmful culture that’s residual from long abandoned practices. Seeing guys post here in support of the MoFem movement is just so heartening to me. I can understand what you mean though. My husband has at times “supported” me a little too hard to make a phone call or go up and talk to someone, knowing that I struggle with social anxiety. His insistence only intensified my anxiety. At other times though a gentle nudge from him, or him letting me know that whatever I decide he will back me up, has made so much difference. I do think that gender inequality is as much men’s business as it is women’s though. If my husband took the initiative to speak up about it and encourage others to be sensitive to it I think I would explode in beams of sunshine.

  12. Oregongal says:

    How coincidental that Twila mentioned a kitchen remodel in this context. I like to think of immodesty as ostentatious display, in this case, of wealth. Am I being immodest by wanting granite countertops? They don’t cost as much as quartz, so am I being modest for wanting granite instead of Formica? What about the Mercedes which the bishop and SP drive? Aren’t they more immodest than someone’s shoulders?

    • Jessawhy says:

      Mraynes
      This is a great post.
      I liked Nate C.’s comment about wanting to help and not be a part of the problem.
      Maybe we can do a post that specifically answers this questions.

      It’s easy for women, even feminist women, to let men lead. We just got back from a weekend with friends at a cabin. Despite almost all of the women self-identifying as feminist, the conversations were set by men and often topics that I was uncomfortable with (sex, bodies, objectifying women, etc). Sometimes the social dynamic in a group is so much different than it is one on one. It seems like some of these men think of their awareness of feminism as an excuse to push our buttons on these issues as much as they can. I just don’t get it.

      That may not be exactly what you’re getting at here, but there are a lot of dynamics between men and women regarding feminism that mystify me.

      • Nate C. says:

        This is a tough part of the conversation. How do men ask questions about things they don’t understand, but want to understand without pushing buttons or making feminists uncomfortable.

        I understand from Emily that similar conversations happen when men are not around. Are those conversations also uncomfortable or button-pushing? What is the difference other than the gender of the person asking the question?

        To me, it often feels like there is often no way to safely ask questions.

      • Mraynes says:

        I think a lot of the problem stems from the natural differences in men and women’s discourse. Of course this depends on a lot of generalizations but there is some research to back it up–men’s discourse is more debate driven, a little more combative while women rely more on personal experience. I think it’s very easy for men and women to talk past each other simply because they do not understand how to talk to one another. To me, the starting point is always to be as generous as possible and to be patient. Of course, this requires the other person to act in good will as well.

      • Kmillecam says:

        Yes. This.

        For me it isn’t so much that I let men lead, even though I am a feminist. It’s more like I just don’t want to be doing the hard work all the time.

        People ask for my feminist critique, perspective, etc. all the time. For some people I don’t mind, because they are people I inherently trust (who don’t judge me, etc.). But for others, especially those who have said crappy things in the past (whether they meant to or not), I am not so inclined to help. It’s not a tit for tat thing either. I’m just tired of willingly opening myself up for more misunderstanding and pain, so I choose my conversations and opening-up more carefully.

        (rant: And before anyone can say “that’s sad” or that that is “my problem”, let me just say this: I take responsibility for my own self. But that does NOT mean that those who are curious about feminism and want my help to my own detriment are entitled to demand that from me and be mad when I won’t give it to them. And if someone makes me angry enough about this (demanding that I teach them), then I default to this: do your own work! I did!

        Read Exponent. Listen to feminists. Keep your mouth shut for a while and really listen. If you do have a question, ask it without a chip on your shoulder. These are women’s lives, not just thought experiments. Read the Feminism 101 stuff on Shakesville. You’re smart. You can figure out feminism without bossing me around about how to do feminism “right”. And if you really want my help, then listen to me and stop telling me how to be. Just listen. (This dynamic happens a LOT. I’ve had to take myself out of it a LOT)./rant)

  13. wreddyornot says:

    Sixty-four year old male here. Sunday GD BOM lesson: this and that involving males, more about males doing this and that, priesthood this and that, then and now, yada ya, nothing regarding women, at all. (So, what’s new?) I then raise my hand and ask: “Where are the women in all this?” The GD teacher asks to defer addressing my question and the lesson continues. Ultimately, said teacher asks me to read SWK quote. I say I will if I can read something. Teacher agrees. Quote from the teacher is this: President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to. You are accountable for those things which long ago were expected of you just as are those we sustain as prophets and apostles!” (“The Role of Righteous Women,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102).

    I read it as asked and then I read: “…Patriarchy shares a characteristic with all hierarchies: there is a constant burden put on the members in the lower echelons to prove their right to exist within the organization. To exist in reality, in practice, to have their needs met as members, to have a right to be heard, to participate, to influence. To be loved, seen, and valued as an individual person and not as a vague concept or as a benefit to others (like, for example, an embodiment of “motherhood”) – and that’s when the rhetoric is even favorable.” (from Rune on fMh)

    I have decided for now I will approach the rights of women — one in particular —from my place as a man. My genuine question is where is my Heavenly Mother? As a child (even at sixty-four, maybe finally at sixty-four) I want to know. If as a boy my mother was never on the scene I know I’d have asked and asked about it until the answer was given. The other questions about inequalities flow from that. It is man-centered, and I’m not sure given how things have been and are, I need to defer to feminity to ask the question in my male way. I’ll be reading the entries here and postings in the future to see what you all think the best way to go is or where I am in the dark.

    • Amelia says:

      wreddyornot, I think asking about Heavenly Mother is a very good thing anyone, male or female, can do to promote greater gender equity in the church. People need to know that there are many members who hunger for knowledge about our Mother, who want to know her as much as we want to know our Father. I also think that kind of earnest seeking–truly wanting to know, truly wanting something better–is the best place to start from when it comes to men helping the Mormon feminist cause. I worry more when it’s not apparent that such seeking underlies the efforts, or when that seeking gets transmogrified into something that looks far more like self-promotion.

    • Annie B. says:

      Thank you for speaking up! I think men speaking up about the inequities is just as necessary as women speaking up about them. Especially where those inequities relate to and affect you. And I do believe they affect men. I think the problem is when we push each other a little too hard to do things our own way or forget that each person must recognize and pick their own battles. I think women can be just as guilty of that as men btw, although thankfully I haven’t seen regulars of this blog community ever be pushy. Just recognizing that the inequity exists in the first place can be really painful, we need to let each individual decide which battles they are willing to pay the cost for.

  14. Ziff says:

    Great points, mraynes.

    There have been Mormon men who purport to be allies of the feminist cause but, unhappy with the pace of change, push for radical action that many of us intuitively know to be the wrong approach. Perhaps these men have the best of intentions, but to women who have been struggling with this for years, it just seems like another man telling us what to do. Mormon feminists understand better than anybody the consequences for radical actions like seeking the priesthood or praying to Heavenly Mother. There have been real women who have paid dearly for their action and this understandably makes us cautious. To mansplain to us and then to usurp female initiative and power is an insult and betrays the latent sexism of these men.

    Yeah, this does seem like a huge slap in the face. Men are going to tell women what women need and how to go about achieving it? It sounds like men who theorize trying to shout down women who know. 🙂 It seems like we sympathetic men could serve to advise or support, but like you said, it seems wrong-headed for men to think we’ll somehow be the ones to lead this movement.

    Also, utterly unrelated to the point of the post, I like the story about you and mr. mraynes just because it’s a little peek into your lives, which I appreciate because I think the world of both of you.

    • Starfoxy says:

      I’m reminded of one of my favorite Onion articles: Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement

      [Peter] McGowan claimed that one of the main reasons the movement enjoyed so little success in the past was that the previous management was often too timid and passive and should have been much more results-focused.

  15. Jon Miranda says:

    So you are advocating for matriarchy?

  16. amelia says:

    Jon Miranda, which part of “the cause of gender equality,” which mraynes identifies as her desired outcome early in the piece, do you think translates to matriarchy?

    You have a history of making comments here that willfully misread what others have said. If you’d like to participate in the conversation, please do. But that means you’ll actually have to hear what others are saying and accurately represent it. If you just want to troll, lobbing comments that misrepresent what others say, take yourself elsewhere.

  17. Jon Miranda says:

    You extol evils of patriarchy as though you think matriarchy is preferred or better. Amelia, what do you think that everyone is going to agree with you and all is rosy?

    • Amelia says:

      Consider that strike two.

      What I expect is that whether someone agrees with the original post or disagrees with it, they will actually engage thoughtfully with what it says rather than misrepresenting it in an effort to discredit it.

    • Annie B. says:

      Do you think that matriarchy is the only alternative to patriarchy? In all of humanity, only two possible ways to do things? That’s pretty limited. Gender equality–Boom, there’s another. Your first clue should have been when the original poster stated that was her desired alternative to patriarchy.

  18. Aaron Brown says:

    Hear, hear!

    “Perhaps these men have the best of intentions ….”

    And perhaps not. Narcissism is always looking for a political cause to use as a springboard to self-promote.

  19. MormonDeadhead says:

    Thank you for this Mraynes. Very nice response!

  20. tyoung says:

    I have always believed that garments were instituted to save us all from having to see all the old ladies’ “Relief Society swing”. I couldn’t concentrate in church if all those saggy under arms were flapping at me. Now that I have become a “swinger”, I am very thankful for garments. 😉

  21. Richard_K says:

    Please forgive me for being tardy to this party: I’m slow, but sincere. I want to preface my remarks with a little background, the purpose of which is not in any way to lecture you nor any your associates on the merits of the ideologies related, but merely to provide context for how I came to consider myself a male feminist.

    I recall Sheldon Kopp (“If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him”) explaining how he had trouble telling knife from wound when dealing with issues of victimization. In essence, as a practicing therapist, he’d work with men caught soliciting the services of prostitutes who’d claim that women were so easily manipulated because you could get them to do anything for a little money. In contrast, when counseling some of those same prostitutes, they would claim that it was men who were so easily manipulated because for a little excitement, you could walk away with almost all they owned.

    Another, more uplifting example, comes from C. Terry Warner (“Bonds That Make Us Free”), a former professor of philosophy at BYU-Provo and co-founder of the Arbinger Institute. He recasts victimization in terms of collusion by saying, in essence, that seeing oneself as the victim of the accusations of an aggressor, is to make that aggressor the victim of one’s own accusations in return, which locks both parties in a pattern of recursive collusion.

    It was these and other salient ideas that led to my own feminist awakening. More than merely acknowledging the virtues of feminism in terms of “The women I love do not deserve the mistreatment they suffer.” I came to see the evil in patriarchy itself in terms “What does my mistreatment of the women I love do to me in return?” It seems that the perpetuation of patriarchy holds back and dehumanizes men every bit as much as it does women; albeit, some men may see their chains not as shackles, but as jewelry. I appreciate “Annie B.” for her comments on polygamy and being a menace to society; thank you for your patience with us.

    Of course, I took the time to relate the foregoing background to express my sympathy for the comments of “Nate C.” on this post, and in essence echo his question: How do I help safely without it seeming like just another man telling you what to do? Well, here’s my best shot …

    A few months ago, my wife lamented to me about how it has become more difficult to talk to me about her problems, after all these years of marriage, than it was in the early days. She told me how I used to listen more before, encourage her to find her own solutions, and how there was nearly no agenda in what parsimonious advice I did offer way back in the good old days. Well, of course that wasn’t easy to hear. In short, eventually we came to understand that the problem was with what she perceived to be her problems. In the good old days, her problems really were her problems, which allowed me to approach them with a degree of objective detachment that did not disenfranchise her from the solution. Having grown closer together over the years and invested our interests in each other to an almost indistinguishable degree of enmeshment (I call it the pathological side of “oneness”), her problems are not really just her own anymore. Those problems are now our problems, and the solutions to those problems require the cooperation and compromise of true equality.

    Should women be in complete control of all decisions within realm of the feminist movement? Should men play merely a passive and support role, and only as explicitly predetermined to by women? Does the taint of uninvited male involvement delegitimize feminism by definition? Yes, absolutely; to the extent that feminism is accepted as a campaign to secure for women all that is rightfully theirs from within the confines of a zero-sum game played with men. However, I neither see it that way myself, nor do I claim the right to erect that straw-man on behalf you or anyone else. In short, I personally do not see the struggle for equality as the means to advocate the cause of feminism. I do see feminism as a powerful path leading to equality: an equality with women that I long for, but do not enjoy. I believe men and women must work together equally in order to achieve equality, but I admit that I have precious little clue how to pull it off.

    The Community of Christ enjoys a rather egalitarian society that remains for us out of reach. How ironic it is to me that took an active and willing patriarchy to bring patriarchy to an end.

    I hope I have not offended, and sincerely apologize if I have done so. I really do want to help.

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