Elder Christofferson’s Remarks on Manhood: Feminist Reflections

From Elder Todd Christofferson, who according to Peggy Fletcher Stack’s report in the Salt Lake Tribune, discussed men, women, and manhood during the Priesthood Session, including the following:

“In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those who denigrate men and their contributions,” he [Christofferson] said. “They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female — that one must dominate the other, and now it’s the women’s turn. … This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect.”

Some men, he said, use these signals as excuses to duck responsibility.

“In the church and kingdom of God in these latter days, we cannot afford to have boys and men who are drifting. We cannot afford young men who lack self-discipline and live only to be entertained,” Christofferson said. “We cannot afford young adult men who are going nowhere in life, who are not serious about forming families and making a real contribution in this world.”

These remarks sparked some conversation on The Exponent back email list. I thought I’d share a few of our comments with our readers to give you a sense of some various feminist reflections on these statements.

Amelia: I hate this old strawman characterization of feminism.  It could not
be further from the truth for the vast majority of the feminists I’ve
encountered, and it justifies ongoing blame of feminism and the women’s
movement for the ills our society faces.

Libby: I just asked my husband about this.  He said that he heard it more as “Society puts down men. Don’t use that as an excuse to be lazy.” Sigh.  Let’s not use a (wholly appropriate) social tendency to make fun of American society in the 1950s and 60s (i.e. Two and a Half Men, Flight of the Concords, Anne Taintor greeting cards) as an excuse to claim that there’s a serious attack on men and maleness.

Deborah: “They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female — that one must dominate the other…” Is that an acknowledgement that men have dominated?

Mraynes: You know what hurts men — telling them they’re inherently less spiritual than women. You know what reduces and minimizes the presence of men in the home — telling men they are not natural nurturers, pushing retrograde policies that tell men they should be sole providers and tacitly encouraging professions that are family unfriendly, and then require mandatory priesthood service of many men that takes them out of the home during the few hours they have with their families.

Jessawhy: The tone of this quote bothers me because it shames the men and blames the women. However, I see examples of this phenomenon around me. When an LDS man gets married young, say right off his mission, he is more likely to commit to an education and a career and focus on family and work. On the other hand, some of the single Mormon men I’ve met, for example my chemistry lab partner, who are older are often still figuring out what they want to do with their lives. I don’t think this has much to do with women wanting to “dominate,” but more to do with younger couples falling into the strict Mormon gender roles that land women at home with babies (usually from the beginning) and men in school and then at work. I’d love to see the church focus more on how developing men and women’s abilities together can benefit their children and how sharing parenting and providing responsibilities leads to mutual respect and love.

Caroline: I agree with Christofferson that we cannot afford to have men drifting and aimless. However, I think it should be pointed out that we also can’t afford to have women doing the same. Both young men and young women need to be serious about their lives, make plans to contribute to the world, and pursue them. As for his characterization of “those who denigrate men,” I agree with Amelia. That’s a strawman.

What are your thoughts about these remarks? 

 

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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43 Responses

  1. Tea Black says:

    Mraynes,

    I completely agree with your point of view. I was shocked when I found out that women with young kids at home are not called to serve in the temple because it takes time away from the kids. Then I thought, what about the men? They are the ones who spend the whole day away from their families, so they are the ones who need to spend more time with their children. I think that Church expect the men to be supermen. They “provide” and serve in the church, except that it is done at a cost: taking their precious time from their family.

    I don’t want a hit and run type of husband. I want my husband to be a father, meaning, to spend quality time with his own children, because they are nurturers too. The Church’s philosophy that only the women are natural nurturers is used as an excuse for a bunch of fathers to not do much about their own kids (my ex-father-in-law never changed a diaper, and he had 6 kids). So, gender expectations in the church is messed up.

    • de Pizan says:

      What’s even more frustrating, is that my brother-in-law is a SAHD and my sister works full-time….yet he’s able to be a temple worker.

  2. DavidF says:

    To give a guy’s perspective, I really appreciated Elder Christofferson’s remarks. Elder Christofferson is pointing out a social phenomena which many others have commented on: young males are growing up to become boys. There are lots of things to blame for this, but for example take a look at most modern sitcoms. We love the imagery of the incompetent male with the very competent female. There’s the fight for equality, which is good (and Christofferson pointed out how good it is to have so many women get education), but there is another element in society that makes it excusable for men to avoid responsibility and duty (true for women to, but trends show that men are doing more than their share of avoiding).

    Mormon men say a lot of stupid things about women (I grew up in a home with some strong feminists), but I sensed Elder Christofferson was being very careful not to give the wrong impression in his talk. I thought it was great.

    • Ru says:

      I think the sitcom phenomenon is an interesting example, but I think you also have to pair it with other types of media analysis. (The Bechdel Test, for example, measures the presence women have in film by asking whether 1. there are two female characters with names; 2. those two characters speak to each other; and 3. if their conversation was about something other than a man. Most mainstream movies don’t pass.)

      You also have to look at the way television drama portrays men and women. Sure, it’s “funny” (in a lowest-common-denominator sort of way, for the most part) when husbands are incompetent and wives are super-competent. But who are the competent characters in dramas like The Newsroom? Men. The West Wing? Men. Breaking Bad? Men. Dexter? (Only Dexter, to be fair, so that’s not a great example.) Even television shows where women do make a strong showing, it’s usually only one or two women in a cast full of men. (Game of Thrones = Dany. Homeland = Carrie. Mad Men = Joan and Peggy. Lost = Kate and later, Juliet. House = token female doctor Cameron or 13.) When you try to think of “acclaimed” (or at least, critically reviewed) dramas and comedies where the WOMEN dominate or are at least equally represented, I can only think of a few. (Downton Abbey, Modern Family.)

      My point is, when you take ALL of entertainment as a whole, men still tend to dominate story lines, so suggesting that men feel inferior because of a handful of lowbrow sitcoms seems inaccurate.

      (End of nerd rant.)

      • BethSmash says:

        Yay Ru!!! I totally agree. Not to mention that the numbers of women on the CREATIVE end entertainment is dismally low, which is probably partly why these things don’t change. I read somewhere that men won’t watch “women’s” entertainment but that women will watch “men’s” entertainment, and that was the excuse to push men’s entertainment MORE. I personally think that women are just TAUGHT to watch “men’s” entertainment and grow used to not seeing women portrayed in ways that reflect our lives, our stories. sigh

      • rcs says:

        I apparently don’t watch as much TV as you but I would generally agree that there are more male leads in TV shows, not that I’d really know that from your random list of shows. I would add Good Wife to your list of acceptable shows and in the comedy category Community has a balanced cast I’d say. Also, I haven’t watched House for a few years but when I did the second leading character was that hospital administrator (female – who I suppose you could argue portrayed some undesirable stereotypes, but a female nonetheless). I accept that the gender make up of critically acclaimed shows reflects certain societal norms that may be undesirable but the number of female characters in shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter (which I haven’t watched) isn’t really a big issue.

      • Naismith says:

        Not seeing the lack of female competence with West Wing. The national security advisor was a woman. CJ was the White House spokesperson, then chief of staff. There were female senators, a chief justice of the supreme court…okay, no female president–is that all that matters?

        I also LOVED the way that show portrayed how important and powerful the (mostly female) assistants are to the smooth running of an office.

      • DavidF says:

        I’m not so sure. Most comedies that I can think of have pretty incompetent men. Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, Family Guy, Simpsons, and probably a few others if I really wanted to do a google search.

        Women are portrayed unfairly in the movie industry, and to some extent on TV as well (although look at all of the kick-butt women in crime dramas), but that is another issue. The point is, I would suggest that there is a correlation between the generally recognized “emasculation” of the modern man and how men are increasingly portrayed on TV (especially non-action shows). Women’s roles aren’t great, but women are certainly getting more roles as intelligent self-empowered figures than before, even if it still isn’t at a 1:1 ratio.

      • Ru says:

        Naismith – ha, I know, people hate the West Wing example, but I stand by it, because whenever there we screw ups on the West Wing, who was almost inevitably responsible for them? (Hint – not Toby, or President Barlett, or Sam Seaborn, or pretty much any of the super-competent male characters.)

        CJ was totally awesome. And then she suddenly wouldn’t know what the census was. (Fifth graders know what the U.S. census is.)

        The female characters with major power, unlike the male characters, tended to meltdown over little things, create larger problems, have shockingly “duh” moments, and all that tended to be written off as “endearing flaws.” The female assistants, like you pointed out, didn’t seem to have those same flaws, but they also didn’t have institutional power.

        (PS, I like the West Wing. I just think Aaron Sorkin has a blind spot when it comes to how he characterizes women – ie, it’s interesting to make them amazing! … and then super dumb for ten minutes to move the plot along. I’m not seriously critiquing The West Wing for it’s portrayal of women, I’m just using it to refute the notion that pop culture emasculates men just because shows like 2 and a Half Men exist. Not when President Bartlett exists, it doesn’t.)

        Like I said – nerd rant.

        David – I agree that the ratios are improving, and that there seems to be broad comedy in the bumbling idiot (inevitably less educated, lower-middle class) man dynamic. However, I think as long as you’re acknowledging that the ratio is still tipped in favor of men, there isn’t much traction in the “pop culture emasculates men because of these minority examples” just because women are finally starting to get a fair shake. Yes, there are a few sitcom examples, but I’d suggest that most Mormon men don’t see themselves cast in the roles of According to Jim or Family Guy, etc. They laugh at those things and then envision themselves as the super competent, more educated, more upwardly mobile characters on other television programming, where men are definitely being dealt a stronger hand.

      • DavidF says:

        Ru,

        Yeah, I guess you can speak for how most Mormon men think . . .

  3. Diane says:

    I read this and I’m disturbed by the idea that Men/women are considered to be be drifters if they don’t get married. Some people(myself included) choose not to be married. I don’t think this makes me, or any other single man less than my married counterparts.

    I bothered by the fact that church leadership seems to think that the only way to make a lasting contribution to society is to kick out an abundance of children, as oppose to being a good citizen, being a good neighbor, etc, etc.

    • Annie B. says:

      I agree.

    • rcs says:

      I don’t know how long you have been a member of the church but marriage and child bearing / rearing has been at the core of Mormon theology from pretty much the beginning of the church (really, you could go back to Adam on this one), so it’s hard to be surprised that the current trend (both in and out of the church) of individuals marrying and having kids later is something the church would generally not support.

      Unfortunately it may be near impossible for the church generally or even specific individuals to preach the importance of marriage and child bearing/rearing without making those individuals not in those categories a little uncomfortable. Having said that I believe it’s an exaggeration to say that, “church leadership seems to think that the only way to make a lasting contribution to society is to kick out an abundance of children as oppose to being a good citizen, being a good neighbor.” Perhaps it can seem overwhelming to do and be all of those things, but that is exactly what they’re suggesting – be a spouse, parent, good citizen etc. Much of what is said at conference, including by President Monson, is that we should serve and love one another.

      Having said all that, I think the church in the past few years is very aware of unmarried or non-parents feeling out of place in our congregations. Are there individuals members that believe what you’ve described above? More than I’d like to admit. Do the brethren at any level agree with what you’ve said, no. The church has made a significant effort in the last few years to encourage and recognize the valuable contributions of members of the church who may not be married and may not have kids. It’s hard to give a nuanced explanation of this sensitive issue but I believe the men and women who speak in conference are inspired and so try to see positive of what they are saying.

  4. Ru says:

    I agree that Elder Christofferson was trying to walk the line and not put down feminism, but I do think he was less-than-successful.

    What I find most interesting is the comment that “some denigrate men” is almost universally interpreted as meaning “feminists denigrate men,” and I don’t think that is the case. A lot of the time, men denigrate themselves, either because they’ve been socially programmed, or in order to duck responsibility and court female reassurance (the “I’m just a worthless caveman, I’m such a jerk, I don’t know how you put up with me” mentality). Women, and certainly not feminists, aren’t responsible for that phenomenon.

    Church culture also denigrates men in its own way by holding everyone to the same yardstick (You weren’t a zone leader? You aren’t married? You don’t have an MBA? You aren’t a high priest by 40? Oh …) and reinforcing needless gender roles (“Aw shucks, I’m just a dumb man without the ‘nurture’ gene, sorry I put the baby’s diaper on backwards while I was ‘babysitting,’ hon.”) I’d like to think that Christofferson was aiming at those mindsets as well as the legendary Man Hatin’ Feminist. Just grow up already, fellas.*

    *Not all fellas, obviously.

    • Ziff says:

      What I find most interesting is the comment that “some denigrate men” is almost universally interpreted as meaning “feminists denigrate men,” and I don’t think that is the case.

      Great point, Ru. Now that you point it out, it almost sounds like he intentionally phrased it that way so that those who have ears to hear would hear it as feminists putting down men, but he couldn’t be pinned down for actually saying that.

  5. Alisa says:

    I wrote down some similar thoughts shortly after I became a mother to a wonderful baby boy. Suddenly, the way that society and many in the Church talk about boys and men as less spiritual, unessential parents, and crumb bums seemed to be a personal attack on the new little being who I wanted to raise to believe in himself and his potential: http://www.the-exponent.com/as-a-mother-i-question-male-spiritual-disadvantages/

    I still hear, frequently, bad things about boys and men in relief society or in groups of LDS women: how dumb their husbands are at doing the dishes, how kids truly prefer their moms (mine doesn’t–my husband stayed at home for 2 years with him and they have a precious bond). In RS, they even told a story about a sealing where President Faust talked about how women were already qualified naturally for heaven and the temple but men “needed” the Priesthood to get up to where women are. I don’t know if he actually said that, but if he did it seems a very sad thing to say, something this mother-of-an-amazing-boy doesn’t believe.

    • Annie B. says:

      I’ve noticed that attitude in conference talks too, the attitude that men are spiritually inferior. I think I first noticed it when I was a teenager. It actually comforted me a little back then because all my childhood I considered my dad the spiritual authority. I never asked my mom about spiritual or doctrinal matters because my dad was the presiding authority in our house. How sad is that? Looking at how attitudes have evolved in the church it looks to me like leaders have been trying to compensate for false attitudes and harmful policies towards women in the early days of the church by putting men down in later days. What a horrible approach.

  6. Annie B. says:

    I agree with Mraynes’ comment in the post and Alisa’s comment. I’ve seen just as much denigration of men from over the pulpit as I have from elsewhere in the world, but I think it’s much more damaging when it comes from the pulpit because it masquerades as gospel truth when it comes from LDS church leaders.

  7. Casey says:

    I grimaced a little when he said that. Why not just focus on the need for men to be focused and make real contributions without the attacks on vague someones who are supposedly “emasculating” dudes? Or if he wanted to criticize “the world”, there’s plenty to denounce in beer-commercial “bro” culture and in men delaying responsibilities until their 30s, and none of that requires putting down feminism (in fact, I’d say that feminism provides many answers!) But Christofferson, I’ve noticed, has a tendency to toss out casual denunciations of straw-philosophies. It’s an LDS tradition going back through the likes of Maxwell, McConkie, Kimball, and HB Lee, and I guess it’s at least progress that he’s not as bombastic as they could be.

  8. anonlds says:

    A lot of the denigrations of men is done because of inequality and as an effort to excuse it. Commercials portrayed men as tooo incompetant to perform routine tasks and get laughed at while women juggle all kinds of duties. Men get ridiculed because it society doesn’t find making fun of women funny. More women need to stick up for men when they are portrayed this way.

    The same thing happens in church. A couple weeks ago I was subbing in primary and they did a presentation encouraging teachers to sign up for the marraige class. One lady commented. Can we just send our husbands? Much laughter ensued. I often here complaints about how they people hate women being patronized, but it seems to me women participate in plenty of men bashing

    • chanson says:

      Re: “A lot of the denigrations of men is done because of inequality and as an effort to excuse it. Commercials portrayed men as tooo incompetant to perform routine tasks and get laughed at while women juggle all kinds of duties.”

      That’s the first thing that struck me as well. When you insist that only men can perform certain roles and only women can perform other roles, then you have to justify it. And if you’re giving the higher-status tasks to the men, it’s convenient to use joking (or serious) denegration (of men) as the justification.

      For example, you can’t say: “Have a man plan and prepare all the meals for his family? Why he’s way too busy/important to spend his time on that!” It’s more PC to say: “Have a man plan and prepare all the meals for his family? Can you imagine how he’d screw it up, the poor blundering fool…? I guess men are stuck with the easier tasks like leading the ward…”

      Seriously, let people take on the tasks that they’re good at, without imposing gendered restrictions, and you no longer need to surround yourself with insulting platitudes like “Men need the priesthood because they’re not as naturally spiritual as women,” etc. (blech)

      • Ziff says:

        Great great point, chanson! The putting down of men is just another symptom of the general inequality favoring them (er, us).

  9. anonlds says:

    Sorry for the poor grammar. Typing on a phone and this site isn’t very phone friendly.

  10. lmzbooklvr says:

    Thanks Mraynes for pointing out why, for the first time in our marriage, I actually encouraged my husband not to go to priesthood session. I just couldn’t watch him go to another meeting with the potential of being told that he’s not doing enough/his best/fulfilling his duty. Before he lost his job and we relocated to UT, it wasn’t as difficult for him (and me). While I’m sad he missed the whole session, I am glad he missed Elder Christofferson’s talk.

  11. X2 Dora says:

    So great to read a collection of the permabloggers discussing an particular issue. I like this format!

    As for Elder Christofferson’s remarks? Well, they are unfortunate, because they seem to cast men and women in opposition to each other, when they needn’t be. Really, I do think that women are on the ascent, but I don’t think that we’re going to overtake men based on power or money any time … they’ve simply had the upper hand for too long for equalization to happen quickly. an excellent article on this phenomenon is Stephanie Coontz’s article in the NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/opinion/sunday/the-myth-of-male-decline.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&

    • rcs says:

      I feel bad for replying to so many comments on here. But how do you get that Elder Christofferson is implying that men and women are in opposition to each other? From my reading of the quote he states that this idea of opposition is out there and it isn’t a good thing. I agree men and women don’t need to be in competition with each other and that is the whole point of marriage – living in harmony.

      I grew up in a home that was quite traditional. My dad went away to work and my mom more or less ran the home. Although, my mom hasn’t had paid work since I’ve been alive, she has made an important contribution to the small community where we live by extensive volunteering. My dad isn’t gifted in the kitchen but he helps to keep a tidy home. All of us kids have long since moved out. My mom recently underwent surgery and isn’t currently very mobile. My siblings and I chuckled at my dad’s taking care of the meals (BBQ stake 3 nights in a row). But, it was an important lesson for me to see my mom speaking kindly of my dad’s efforts. He wasn’t being judged on how good he was at preparing food or caring for my mom, he was being appreciated for his effort and his intentions. To me that’s the point. My parents, to a large degree, fit the stereotypes that are so frequently ridiculed. Once you get to know them, however, things are a bit more complicated, in a good way. It’s not the specific roles they have filled that are important but how they have filled them – with love and gratitude for each other. There is no competition in that.

      • Ziff says:

        But how do you get that Elder Christofferson is implying that men and women are in opposition to each other?

        One reason I felt like this was that right after saying it wasn’t a competition, and that women should be applauded for their accomplishments, Elder Christofferson listed a bunch of ways men were failing, and most of them were in comparison to women. For example, he cited a bunch of statistics about how women were earning more advanced degrees than men. Referring to stuff like that makes it into a competition.

        To be fair, I do remember he also cited a statistic about men that compared them to other men (SAT scores were in decline). More stuff like that would have been better in place of all the “men versus women” stats.

  12. MKOH says:

    I think Elder Christofferson rather inelegantly stated a very real problem. I don’t think he is claiming (as some here have suggested) that there are rampaging feminists who hate men and are trying to take them down. His claim is more subtle and rational than that. Rather, in an effort to adapt school and society to a culture in which women succeed, some boys and men have been left behind. General Authorities often openly or quietly refer to current events or recent Op-Eds, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Elder C was thinking of this, by David Brooks in the NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/opinion/honor-code.html

    I’m not saying I absolutely agree with the argument, but I suspect that this is the kind of thing that is worrying Elder C. Not so much an attack on men, but a movement towards structures that leave them behind. Yes, of course we should celebrate gains by women. But a history of patriarchy doesn’t mean that we never need to worry about our boys again.

    In my personal experience, when I transferred from BYU to a state school on the east coast 10 years ago, I was shocked by the difference in maturity of the boys. Young men at BYU had purpose, focus, experience in the world, and speaking/interpersonal skills that my new classmates entirely lacked. If Elder C is seeing a drift of LDS young men toward immaturity and selfishness, then of course he should speak up in Priesthood Meeting. I just hope that the Church also speaks toward young women having goals, purpose, and ambition.

    • DavidF says:

      MKOH

      This is exactly what I got from Elder Christofferson’s talk. Thank you for putting it so eloquently. Reading through several of the reactions to his talk on this thread, I can tell that these posters weren’t there. My sisters taught me to be very sensative to anti-feminist remarks in Church of which there are many, but I simply did not get this vibe from his talk.

      • mraynes says:

        It’s true we weren’t there–not really our fault since we’re all women–so I grant you that we could be misinterpreting Elder C’s words. That being said, as a general authority you cannot just throw half-baked ideas or unclear rhetoric out there. Words matter. In a culture where the words of apostles are basically gospel, inelegantly stated sentences can do a lot of damage. I guarantee that if we misinterpreted Elder C’s words as a criticism of feminism so did hundreds/thousands of men.

      • MKOH says:

        I don’t know that it’s fair to characterize Elder C’s ideas as half-baked. I agree that he phrased some of what he said very unfortunately. But he also seems to be sensitive to feminism in how he tried to make it clear that he wasn’t attacking women or women’s gains.

  13. Naismith says:

    “ha, I know, people hate the West Wing example, but I stand by it, because whenever there we screw ups on the West Wing, who was almost inevitably responsible for them? (Hint – not Toby, or President Barlett, or Sam Seaborn, or pretty much any of the super-competent male characters.) ”

    Um, Toby was convicted for his screw up, President Bartlett was censured by congress (or are you blaming his physician-wife?), Josh was a disaster in the briefing room when he tried filling in for CJ, and Sam was embarrassing to the administration because of his antics with the call girl. I haven’t done a full content analysis, but there were plenty of screw-ups from the men, and plenty of women in responsible positions.

    I am more concerned about the absence of intelligent, educated, hard-working full-time mothers in media. Younger women considering spending some years at home have–who?–for a role model?

  14. deila says:

    I have listened to his talk and I understand what he was saying. I really don’t think he was shaming women, or putting women down, and I feel that getting all ruffled about this is not in the spirit of trying to understand the intent of his heart and message. I have met Elder Christofferson and talked with him and his wife — they are some of the kindest and caring people I know. And there has been a past of women denigrating men — “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” (Irina Dunn, 1970)

  15. Jerms says:

    This reminds me of a political cartoon I saw when I was a kid. It was about Take-Your-Daughter-to-Work Day and a side-story about how women were entering the workplace more and more men were staying home. It had a little girl sitting at a desk with her dad and a computer, and happily exclaiming “You mean someday I might get to do THIS?” And the other panel was a mom doing dishes while a baby cried and a horrified little boy saying “You mean someday I’m going to have to do this?” And it disturbed me because the look on the mom’s face was one of enjoying revenge on her son.

    As to the “some say” narrative, my first thought was commercials. 98% of commercials where there’s a man and a woman, the man is the idiot.

    It was a fine talk. If you look at the transcript on LDS.org, I thought he was aiming at 25-year-old guys who play video games all day. But if I remember right, this was probably the first Priesthood session in over two decades that didn’t quote D&C 121.

  16. RCG says:

    As a man married to a mildly feminist woman who has strong feminist friends, I’m hyperaware of messages that reinforce incorrect/old-fashioned stereotypes about men and women. Perhaps surprisingly, the only line in Elder Christofferson’s talk that I objected to was, after citing the titles of several recent “end of men” books, he said: “…and they were all written by women.” While everyone got a good laugh, the comment felt unnecessary, and contrary to the spirit of the talk. After that botched introduction, the talk was inspiring and encouraged me to make a couple small changes.

    One theme that I believe Mormon men could benefit from tremendously would be the importance of partnership in a marriage. I grew up under the thumb of an overpowering mother, and I lugged that baggage into my marriage: expecting to be chastised and brought into line by my wife. I imagine other men have the opposite experience, having seen the males in their home dominate the women. After five years of marriage and many difficult conversations with my strong and sensitive wife, I finally accepted that we were partners. She would fail sometimes, and I would fail sometimes. Neither of us would be perfect, and we would revel in the trust that sharing our imperfections brought.

  17. Rannie says:

    I’m really shocked people are calling Christofferson’s comment about the denigration of and animosity towards men a “strawman.” Has no one here really read Hanna Rosin? A very vocal, very prominent feminist who recently published a book, “The End of Men”? He is fairly quoting from her. It is no strawman; it is a brand of feminism that has an intensely antagonistic, adverserial approach, framed only in terms of power, control, and domination. Stephanie Coontz is a feminist who counters Rosin with paradigms of cooperation, complimentarity, and mutual growth and development, in line with Christofferson and many Mormon feminists I know and identify with. Christofferson knows his stuff. He is not making any strawmen. I’m pretty disappointed this feminist website has zero familiarity with this well-known trend. I hope a little more awareness and a little less hasty criticism will emerge in later comments and posts.

    • mraynes says:

      I’m confused by what you’re arguing…is he quoting from Rosin or does he espouse Coontz? It seems to me that he has the same thesis as Rosin, that men are falling behind for a variety of reasons, one of them being the “denigration” of men. If this is what Elder C. is arguing then I strongly disagree. I don’t think he is at all clear as to who the culprits behind male denigration are and it is entirely reasonable to believe he was talking about feminists-which is a straw man. I’ve read his talk and Coontz’s piece and I don’t believe he comes anywhere close to the complimentarism you claim he does. Words matter and if that is what Elder Christofferson meant then he should have said it!

  18. spunky says:

    I agree with mraynes and what others have said here that this is a strawman situation. It is sad because I think Christofferson is addressing “Priesthood” as though it is an “old boys club,” and may not have wholly comprehended that women would listen/watch/read his talk.

    I think it is additionally disappointing and yet interesting that when he quoted the titles of books that he rattled off as descriptors meant to portray the degeneration of men. In this, he made the statement that “most of [these books] are written by women!” It was clear that he pointed out this thing that he deemed ludicrous with the intention of gaining a laugh (which he did). But he equally intended to point out his perception of absurdity in the concept of women writing a book that would define, discuss and/or direct men in maleness.

    In doing this, he exposed how wholly absent of empathy or comprehension in regard to the countless male-authored publications, texts, assignments, definitions, etc, that the church and its policy uses to label and discuss women. In short, he defined men as intellectually superior and in position to command the place of women in published materials, whereas, to Christofferson, it is only laughable for women to attempt to do the same for men.

    That– in and of itself– is utterly despicable.

    • I don’t think he was intending to denigrate women when he said it was interesting that most of the books and articles were written by women. I think he would have used “ironically” rather than “interestingly”. It seemed to be his intention was to point out his amusement that the grouping of authors was another example of men falling behind. It certainly wasn’t the best attempt to add humor to an already difficult topic.

  19. Zenaida says:

    I just wanted to note that the example he held up was a poor boy from a third-world country who was working extremely long hours and still finding time to do homework and in exhausting himself every night. I find this example problematic. He says that he is proud of this young man, and so am I. Anyone, who works to lift themselves and their families from poverty is to be admired and emulated. However, I do not think it remotely addresses the “first-world problems” of the majority of the men he wants to reach.

    Also, I think Jerms has it right with the Take Your Daughter to Work Day. It would be nice to recognize that not all women will find fulfillment in SAHM role, and not all men will find fulfillment in full-time work/full-time education/extended hours of church service. Viewing the those who think this way as enjoying some sort of “revenge” is definitely not helpful. Also, illustrates the way that women’s (house)work is seen as difficult and drudgery, while men’s work is seen as important fulfilling.

    • Zenaida says:

      And, to be fair. I see it that way. I often resent having to do housework. I have many more important things I should be doing. 🙂

      • Zenaida says:

        Clarify: I don’t resent my partner. I just resent that the laundry doesn’t do itself and that I have to use dishes to eat food, which I will then have to clean.

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