Monday, January 28, 2013

Second Class Citizen

When I was about 5 years old my mom staged one of her protests with a church leader.  It was Mother's Day and the bishop of our ward (that's Mormon speak for the lay leader of our congregation) a real misogynist, got up in the adult Sunday School class and told those in attendance that women were second class citizens in the church.  That men, because they hold the priesthood, were better than women and that he'd been able to get a general church leader to admit to this.  On Mother's Day!! This was back in the day when we'd go to church three times on Sunday.  My mother had time to ruminate on this all afternoon so when it was time to get ready to go back to church that evening for Sacrament Meeting (which used to be 2 hours long) my mother put on her loudest pair of polyester pants and got into the car to go.  I. Was. Mortified.  One did not wear pants to church!  My dad was in the bishopric at the time and was already on the stand.  My mother waited until the service was just about ready to start then marched my sister and I up the aisle to the front row and plunked herself down in front of the bishop.  He was pissed!  And my poor passive father just sat there....what could he do?  And I lay across my mother's lap trying to hide her shame.

Funny story but it goes to prove a point to a jerk:  Don't mess with a strong woman.  You will not win.

It's because of examples like this and others my mother (and others) have made over her lifetime that I have NEVER felt like a second class in the Church or life in general.  I just don't.

A month or so ago some unmarried "feminist Mormon" woman in Salt Lake decided to post a protest against the Church getting women to wear pants to church on a specific Sunday.  Because that'll learn 'em for sure!  Stupidest.  Protest.  Ever.  I think Utah is the only place women wearing pants to church would be an issue.  On my mission in Minnesota and Wisconsin women wore pants to church because it was cold.  And in my husband's ward in Michigan his Grandmommy wore nice pants suits quite often as did other women in that ward.

The day after this protest I was at work (I do housekeeping at the Mt Timpanogos LDS Temple) and one of my volunteers, a young man, said he didn't understand this protest and why women would feel like this.  My answer to him was, "Not all girls have had the same upbringing.  Not all women have had the same experiences in life.  Some were brought up to feel like they were less because they were born a girl.  Everyone's experience in life is different and those experiences are what shape our minds and our ideas.  This is why some women would feel this way."

I, however, like to wear skirts and dresses.  I feel more reverent when I'm wearing a dress or skirt to church.  Plus, I have great legs so......

A few minutes ago someone on Twitter said something about an article she had read and that it hadn't changed her mind.  You can read it here.  It's entitled "I Am a Mormon Because I'm a Feminist".  Go ahead and read it.  It's scholarly and some of it is a little iffy to me but the message is a good one that men and women have joint responsibilities in the whole scheme of God and creation and one is not better than the other.  I have always believed this.

I have never had a problem with plural marriage (polygamy).  I have never had a problem with women not having the priesthood.  I have never had a problem with women not being bishops.  I have never had a problem with not having a penis.  As Elaine Bennes once said, "I don't know how you walk around with those things."

I enjoy being a woman.  I enjoy nurturing my children.  I enjoy being the one to be pregnant and lactate for them.  I enjoy being the one who wears the dress on Sunday.

I do have a problem with men trying to make women look and feel like second class citizens.  I have a problem with companies not paying women the same as they pay men for the same job.  I have a problem with men leaving women to take care of their children that they both created and not paying for it.  There is a lot of inequality out there on the part of women.  It's true.  I'm not denying this. But I DO NOT FEEL LIKE A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN.

 Maybe because it's the way I was raised.  Maybe it's the personality I was born with.  (dangling participle there.)  Maybe it's because I choose not to feel this way.  But I'll tell you one thing: I'm glad of it.  It sure does bring me peace and it's one less thing to fight myself and others over.

The end.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Just Don't Do It!

In November I was talking to a woman  and asked her if she could do something for me and she said, "No...I'm sorry.  I feel bad saying 'no'."  I wanted to hit her. 

Why do women do that?  Feel bad for setting boundaries for themselves and saying no? Who made up the rule that to say no is a sin?

I am in my church congregation's women's presidency--in Mormon speak I'm in the Relief Society Presidency.  I went to the President right then and said, "I'm giving the lesson in January. We're having a tutorial on the word 'No'."  Here it is:

"This summer my mother died and I was feeling down and then the summer ended and school started and I kept feeling worse.  I realized that my medication wasn't working very well and that after 7 years on the same medication I probably needed a change.  I tend to hide from people, situations, duties, etc. when I'm depressed and I was really hiding.  It took me until the end of November to get in to see my psychiatrist to assess my medication.  I have a lot of duties, civic and church, that I'm involved with and I wasn't doing them.  I said to my husband, I really feel like I am running faster than I have strength. (Mosiah 4:27 in the Book of Mormon)  I didn't have the mental capacity to do all the things I needed to do.  My mental health was suffering.

I was talking to the girl that waxes me the other day about her 5 jobs she'd mentioned she has.  Her husband goes to school and she is the bread winner in her family.  At one point she had several jobs that she did and that she hated.  Her husband told her that she did it to herself, which made her mad because here she is supporting the family and he's criticizing her--which he really wasn't.  She realized he was right.  Just because she works doesn't mean she has to do something she hates.  So she switched her focus and found things she likes to do and she and her husband are much happier.

Third story:  The other councellor who is over our monthly midweek Relief Society meetings had done a craft evening wherein a lot of the crafts had not been picked up or paid for.  She decided that she was going to take the rest home and finish them to give to the widowed and/or alone ladies in our ward (congregation).  This is a wonderful thing to do if you aren't getting ready to move, have 2 small children, teach 3 craft classes already, etc, etc, etc.  She came to church and said, "I don't think I'm going to be able to do this.  I'm really sorry."  I hadn't heard she was going to do it and after finding out the information said, "Do they KNOW you are doing this for them?" She said they didn't and then I said, "Then we're not doing it!"  Then she thanked me for allowing her to say no. 

Ladies, you don't have to have permission to say, NO!  It's not a bad word.  It's actually an awesome word.  It's a word that allows you to put boundaries on yourself, to keep yourselves mentally and physically well.

Think of all the things you do as a woman, wife, and mother:  laundress, chauffeur, we work outside the home, cook, clean, take care of our neighbors, eat, sleep, exercise, attend civic meetings, church activities, church assignments, take care of our parents, brothers and sisters, etc. Out of all the activities you do which ones are essential?  Eating and sleeping.  The laundry will wait.  The kids have feet to walk.  The dishes can wait until tomorrow.  Kids can eat ramen.

Why do we take on so much in our lives?  Why don't we say no?  Because we feel guilty.  Because we feel like we "should" be doing these things. 

My husband--the marriage and family therapist--often tells his female clients

                          Don't Should All Over Yourself!!

From here on out you are only to feel guilty if you do something:

1.  Mean
2.  Wrong
3.  Unfair

Otherwise, you are not allowed to waste good guilt energy.

God gives us guilt so good people will feel bad when they do something bad.  Then we will fix the problem so we can feel good again.  Satan wants us to feel bad about ourselves so we will be miserable like unto himself.  He wants us to feel bad and to think that we are inherently evil.  But we aren't.  He want us to run faster than we have strength.

In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:26-27 tells us:

 26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may awalk guiltless before God—I would that ye should bimpart of your substance to the cpoor, every man according to that which he hath, such as dfeeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
 27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and aorder; for it is not requisite that a man should run bfaster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

The Lord tells us that although we are already saved by his grace and merits that we are to continue to do good to our fellow man however, it is not REQUIRED that a man should run faster than he has strength.  That we should work hard but all things should be done in order and wisdom.  

In other words:  If you don't have time, money, or energy or even if you don't want to make dinner for a sick ward member then say NO! and leave it at that.   If you don't want to share your Mother's Day chocolates with your children then don't--in fact you shouldn't!  If you don't want to be on the PTA then don't say yes.  

Create boundaries, ladies.  Say NO!  And remember, Don't should all over yourselves.


You know what I like about winter?  Nothing.

Well, alright.  Hot chocolate and  tea are good.  And flannel sheets.  My Uggs are pretty awesome.  Christmas lights and Christmas trees and Christmas.  As long as it's cold there may as well be snow.  Soup is wonderful, too.  All the comfort foods......and that's about it.

I don't ski, or snowshoe, or even snowmobile.  So you see, all but the few above mentioned things winter is pretty useless for me.