If you thought you heard the words “Some feminist thinkers view homemaking with outright contempt, arguing it demeans women, and that the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation,” during general conference, be reassured: you aren’t losing your mind. You did hear them. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said them in the Saturday afternoon session, and USA Today will back you up. But when you go to read the talk in the Ensign, the words “feminist thinkers” won’t be there.
They’ve been edited out of the official transcript.
So, is this censorship? Is it Church PR trying to smooth over a badly-worded phrase? Is it deceitful?
Is it wrong for Church leaders to say one thing and print another?
We’ve had quite a bit of discussion about this on the Exponent bloggers’ backlist. Most of us were very hurt by these words, but some of us were even more hurt that they were excised. One blogger even noted that the LDS.org website delayed posting audio and video of the talk for several hours.
It isn’t an apology. It isn’t a leader coming clean and drawing attention to the fact that he made a mistake, which I think would be a braver and more honest thing to do. But it is a step. As Elder Uchtdorf had pointed out earlier in the day, our leaders are human beings. May we give them room when they offend, and note their quick repentance, and all of us try more to be like Jesus.
For what it’s worth, not a single one of the feminists I know views homemaking with contempt (and trust me, I know lots of feminists). We might view scrubbing out the oven with contempt, because it’s hard and smelly and takes all day. We might hold any number of small wooden crafts in contempt because we think they’re ugly and kitschy. Some of us might even outright refuse to dust, citing the studies that show children who grow up in too-clean environments are more prone to asthma. Some of us might outsource certain parts of homemaking–cleaning, decorating, meal preparation, and partial child care come to mind. But we aren’t doing it because we think making a home is demeaning and degrading. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We want our children to live in safe, comfortable, happy homes with parents (and babysitters, where necessary) who love them and encourage them. We want our homes to be a place of refuge. We want to have the time to enjoy being with our children, to help them with their problems, and (for those of us who are religious) to teach them about Jesus. So please, if you think characterizing feminists as haters of home and hearth is a good way to make your point, think again.