Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Patriarchy vs. hierarchy... and some deep questions

I've been thinking about patriarchy and hierarchy recently. I've come to the conclusion that I have a major problem with patriarchy and a minor problem with hierarchy.

I think at heart I'm a pragmatist and I realize that for organizations to function efficiently, you need leaders. Though my ideal heaven is a place where equals can grow and progress together, with no tiers, no hierarchies, no handmaidens.

My real problem is when that leadership excludes women. That's patriarchy and that's crap. Forgive my french. (I originally had the bullsh__ word written out, but I chickened out and deleted it. Mike doesn't like it when I cuss. )

How am I going to raise my kids in this church? There are so many good things about it, so many good kind people, so many great values. There may even be some very special and unique truths. But equality between the sexes is paramount to me. Can I authentically raise my children as Mormons and still communicate how much I despise the patriarchal system it is founded on? How do I raise them with that kind of nuance? How do I prevent Mike from blaming me when one of our kids leaves the Church?


Blogger Anna Maria Junus said...

As a devout temple going member, I completely understand where you're coming from.

It disturbs me that women have less power in the church than when we started.

And it bothers me that we are judged, not by our peers, but by men who think they are better than us because they have the priesthood. It does happen. It happened to me when I got a divorce.

So I'm with you on this one, but we don't dare speak it out loud for fear we'll be dragged into a court and judged by...well you know.

So now is a lightning bolt going to strike me?

6/16/2007 12:06 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Anna, I think more women feel like you and I do than you might imagine. And as the decades slip past, the older generations will die off and then the current status quo will seem ridiculous to the younger LDS folks. Maybe then we'll see some progress.

6/16/2007 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Tanya Sue said...

Caroline-Do you think that we will see progress in time? I sometimes think when I say that about progress it is my own way of keeping my sanity and having a reason to not walking away from the church. I also see a great deal of the same sexist beliefs in younger generations as well and that also makes me wonder if we will ever get to the point of change.

6/17/2007 12:31 PM  
Blogger amelia said...

we'll only see progress in time if we live in such a way that we debunk the sexist myths that are propagated through ignorance and passivity.

that's not to say i think we need to rebel or protest or any other form of action that could result in justified disciplinary action (and unlike anna, i don't believe we're judged by men who think they're better than us because they have the priesthood; she unfortunately seems to have had that experience, but that does not mean it's the general rule of how ecclesiastical counsel and/or discipline works in the church). what i mean is that we all, male and female alike, should live the gospel fully without allowing preconceived notions of what it means to be male and female to interfere with doing so. as women, we need to make every effort to be complete, fulfilled individuals that we can, regardless of what that means in terms of conforming to cultural expectations. only as the church population as a whole sees examples of women that are different from the tired cultural stereotypes will there be a sea change.

i have no doubt that sea change will happen. because i have incredible faith in the potential of the human soul. and i look around me and i see mormon women who are achieving fantastic things in all areas of life. as that continues, things will change.

and caroline, i think you shouldn't speak of "when" one of your children leaves the church as if it's a sure thing. just raise your children to be honest, thoughtful people, the two of you (you and mike) teaching them truths together, making a diligent effort to fairly represent your differing perspectives, and trust their goodness. maybe they'll leave the church. maybe they won't. regardless, i really don't think mike will blame you if one of your children makes his or her own choice to leave. plus, i think there are relatively simple ways to teach about the current leadership policy in the church--ways that allow you to express your beliefs in the inherent equality of men and women and your concerns about all-male leadership without doing so in such a way that you obscure the good in the church. it's all about achieving balance.

6/18/2007 7:46 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Tanya, I do think things will change for the better. It may take a LONG time. I'll probably be cold in the grave when something really meaningful happens. But in the meantime I hope to incrementally help the church get there. Thinking like this probably is a way to help keep my sanity.

Amy, yes, it's not a total foregone conclusion that one of my kids will leave, but I think there's a big possibility. Especially considering how even the most devout families often see a child or two leave. I figure that with my unorthodox views, the chances will increase. I hope my kids won't leave though. I think the church will need people like them. (If they turn out the way i hope they will.)

6/18/2007 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Tanya Sue said...

Caroline, I hope you are right. These things are what keep me from going to a church I love very much because it is too emotionally painful for me. I think the fact you manage to hold onto that hope is fantastic because I haven’t found a way to do that. I think the fact I will be old and in the grave has made me give up on it.

I think you saying your kids will leave the church because of your struggles is like saying your kids will leave the church because Mike doesn’t have the same struggles you do. I agree though that the church needs kids like the ones your family will likely produce-open minded, thinking and kind.

I have friends who remind me of you and Mike (only older). So far they seem to have produced good kids. Only 1 is old enough to truly leave, but I haven’t really seen a side of the others that makes me think they will rebel. I think having a parent like you makes kids realize it is ok to think the church isn’t perfect and attend anyway. That battles with your testimony are part of life and for some it is ongoing.

6/19/2007 8:44 AM  

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