How It Feels – thoughts for Father’s Day

Posted by on June 23, 2013 in fatherhood, Gender roles, manhood, priesthood | 17 comments

As a Mormon feminist, I often here comments like, “The church loves women and we think they are equal.  Why do you feel different or unequal?”

To answer this question, I submit my own short Father’s Day talk.  (And it is June and time to celebrate Fathers.)

A note: I love my earthly father; I honor him. I love many fathers I know, including the father of my ward, my bishop; I celebrate them. I love my Heavenly Father.  My short talk is not meant to be disrespectful, but just a little look into “how it feels”.

Fathers and all men, I start my talk by reminding you how special you are to our Heavenly Parents.  You are so important.  The work you do with the Priesthood is so important.  You are sons of God – and God loves His sons just as much as His daughters.

Fatherhood is essential part of the plan; it is NOT what is left over after the woman’s role or motherhood. We honor your work and the part you play in the overall building of Zion.  We women learn so much from you and your experiences.  We stand in awe of your service to your families and to the ward.

Men, you are the head of the home, which is just as important as the heart of the home; in fact, you’re probably more important. We would benefit if we listened to your counsel more often. I know that my mother got the better deal when she married my father, who is always such a strong head in our home.  He is her better half. We all (his children) benefit so much from his wisdom and love. And I think my mother has learned so much over the years from his example.

The influence of a righteous man goes beyond the home.  It is felt in the community and in the work place.  I hope each of you men realize the power you have on others when you live in righteous ways and stand up for family, for God, and for the Gospel of Christ.  You should be proud to be a man.

As I conclude, I remind all of you men that God is mindful of you.  He knows the challenges your face in juggling your work, church, and priesthood responsibilities.  He loves you and will hear and answer your prayers.  And, we, the mothers (and women) in your life, are always here to support you too.  You are never alone. Never doubt your divine potential; it is great.  We love you.  And today, on Father’s Day, we honor you and your contributions.  We celebrate the important role you play.

 

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17 Comments

  1. This post illustrates one of my pet peeves of the past couple of decades. I remember when I first started noticing the “Dear sisters. . . ” message and I thought, “Who the hell are they talking to?” I wanted to look around the conference center — (yes, I cursed in my mind in the conference center) to see if anyone else was as horrified as I was.

    This message is like a self-fulfilling prophecy: talk to women as if they are insecure and less-than and you help create women who feel insecure and less than. It’s insidious.

  2. Paragraph 3 was particularly salient to me. I found myself thinking, you don’t need to tell men that they are as important as the women, and probably more so, because it is self-evident. It says a lot that we feel like women need such verbal reassurances. Personally, I would rather be treated equally than told that I am equal.

  3. I love being told that God loves me just as much as the men. Because, of course, God’s love for men is self-evident, but I might need reassurance that, though I am a woman, God still thinks I’m neat. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if one of our female leaders gave one of those “dear brothers” talks.

    If you have to say it, it probably isn’t really true — that is, if you have to tell women how important they are, the subtext is that they are not actually important. Important people’s importance is usually self-evident. Nobody reassures the President how special and important he is.

    • Exactly.

  4. Wow, it’d be nice to hear that kind of praise once in a while.

    • I would agree with you, Jack, that men could use a little more praise for the good work that they do. And men do lots of good work. But praise like this does not feel sincere. This is almost word for word the Mother’s Day talk I heard this year and I’m just switching pronouns. I didn’t feel like it was very sincere when I heard it given to women. Though, I did think it was kind.

  5. Awesome, Suzette. This reminds me of Carol Lynn Pearson’s “A Walk in Pink Mocasins.” Flipping genders but keeping the discourse and practices in place can be very revealing.

    This also reminds me of the point I hammered into my students when I taught creative writing. Show, don’t tell. Show us that women are equal and valued and respected by actually treating us as equals worthy of respect. Actions speak louder than words.

  6. Hee. Yeah. I see your point.

    …And at the same time, I do sort of feel this way? That in all the wards I’ve been in, it was the RS which got everything done, the women who were the ones who did the work of Zion in serving and building the bonds between families in the ward. And the men… well, I guess the men get to have meetings. And occasionally someone moves and the Elders’ Quorum gets to move them. Which is important too!

    I’m married to a nonmember, though, so I don’t get a lot of exposure to the men’s side of things, which I know makes a huge difference.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. Men and women both do good things in the church. And needed things. I’d like to see them treated a little more equally for their efforts.

  7. Mockery is not very convincing. I’m not sure what you think is true in your article and what is complete sarcasm.

    • These things are said to the women in the church, without sarcasm. I think that it’s telling that it sounds like mockery when it’s switched around, isn’t it?

    • Jace – that’s just the point. When these things are said to women, it’s hard for us to tell what is “over the top”, what is mockery, and what is true.

      • I think it’s pretty safe to say that when you hear praise and love from others it’s not typically sarcastic. It’s also safe to say yours didn’t just looking like mockery- it was. I could see how you would disagree with the approach but your choice to clearly mock those people is what I find discouraging about your article.

        If my wife or family member or even neighbor had said those things about me I would have been extremely moved and grateful. What you’re asking is for every person you come across in life to be perfectly balanced and in harmony with your opinion. Can no man ever say his wife is his better half without being condescending?

    • Jace -
      Your point is taken.
      S

  8. Stellar post, Suzette. This reversal really makes clear the condescension in “you ladies are just as important as men” type of rhetoric. I blogged about a similar point a few years ago, the issue that, as Em put it so well, “If you have to say it, it probably isn’t really true.” (Here’s my post.)

  9. And feminists wonder why men prefer being single.

  10. A great reminder of the gender disparities we see. Thanks, Suzette!

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