Tuesday, June 20

The other side

I was raised in a very conservative household. My parents would disown me if they knew that I called myself a feminist. To them feminists are every bad stereotype you can imagine. Man-hating, bra-averse, unwashed, baby-killers, who would like nothing more than to see every man in the world castrated. However, Janna's question at Exponent II got me thinking. She said
I'm curious about the feelings and thoughts of women who *are* completely comfortable with the traditional approach to [the Male-only Priesthood]. Why do they feel comfortable with and celebrate what Caroline describes as the God-Man-Woman hierarchy?

I'm not quite sure I know the answer, but given my background I think I can make a pretty good guess.

I think most of these women very much buy into the "women are more spiritual so they just don't need it." I think many LDS feminists really discount how attractive that idea is to non-feminist LDS women. I recall hearing that, and similar statements as a youth and feeling not just special, but down right countercultural. There was a "in-the-know" feeling about hearing things like that. You could look at the sister sitting next to you and have a little wink-wink nod-nod affirming that both of you knew who was *really* running the show. 'These poor hopeless lunks think they're running the church. We'll let you think you're in charge while we do all the important stuff behind your back.' While we congratulated ourselves on being so spiritual we didn't notice our Hopeless lunks run off to meetings that we would be forbidden to attend. Just like that classic line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any direction she wants." One forgets that the neck has no brain of it's own, and only does what the head tells it to, so oddly enough, she always wants to turn the head to the direction the head wants to go. (BTW I had a man I considered marrying tell me that line to make me feel better about him presiding over me. It didn't work.)

Part of what makes this approach so popular is really that it is so easy. First, it removes from women the commonly felt pressure to civilize men, and places it on the priesthood, or more accurately changes it into "supporting his priesthood duties." Women who felt that pressure from their mothers and peers are now free to say to themselves, "serving a mission will help him mature," or "he learns how to be a good man at church." In other words, "you other ladies can't blame me for my husband's slovenly ways because I support his priesthood."

It also allows women to glorify in everything that is feminine, even if they maybe shouldn't. Immodest dresses are readily overlooked if they're adequetely feminine. Spending too much on makeup and clothes is alright because woman is God's greatest, and most beautiful, creation. We gloss over most female failings, because women are more spiritual than men, they have no failings. (As a side tangent, I think it is very important to be aware of, and roust out feminine failings. If I can be a daughter of perdition, it means that I can have the knowledge and agency required to become one. One thing that many leaders are so quick to decry is that all these "sweet angels have corrupted themselve with masculine habits." That track is best counteracted by showing that the "sweet angels" never really existed.)

Next, there is a common (to me) joke about making money (it relates I swear). It goes like this:
Step one: [outlandish silly sounding thing here, like "patent prosthetic foreheads"]
Step two: ???????
Step three: Profit!
All we need to do is figure out what step two is.

As it relates to the topic at hand, the steps are as follows:
Step one: Allow only men to hold the priesthood.
Step two: ?????
Step three: Presto! Men and Women are completely equal before the Lord!

Many of these women are taking on faith that there is, indeed, a step two. They are also taking on faith that step two is probably beyond mortal understanding, so it's futile to try and figure it out. But what they aren't taking on faith is that our leaders, who we trust to advise us constantly assure us of steps one and three. We almost hear them saying, "It doesn't look like it makes sense, but just trust me, it does." The same way we might hear a doctor saying "It doesn't look like taking calcium supplements will cure your menstrual cramps, but just trust me, it does."

So there's my take on that. It may be disjointed, but that's how it goes.

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