More thoughts on Women At Church


Just some notes from our reading last night:

  • Historical details are spotty, which creates a feeling about the past without either 1) justifying that feeling with details or 2) explaining why those feelings are there even though there are other ways to explain the history
  • Does a bishop need to give half of the weight to 3 women in his ward council? Do they represent half of the ward in that way? For one, this should be a united effort. Two, everyone should be seen as equal, not representing halves. Three, do the men see themselves as representing half of the ward? What about sharing details about whole families? Four, haven’t we heard lately that a ward council is not just a place to report about your organization but a place to counsel, where everyone can speak up according to the Spirit on any issue?
  • She likes to point out how in America, women have increased in visibility and equality from 1960’s to today. Is leadership the only way to be equal? What about valuing the work in the family? What about things like maternity leave or nursing breaks? Aren’t there other ways to affirm equal value besides visibility in leadership?
  • What about the family, though? I feel like my work as a homeschooling mom is actually very valued and is the sort of thing that ought to be considered as well.
  • “Not wrong, just hard” rhetoric works in a way, but not in others. I know she wants to distance herself from being a critic of the Church. But it’s hard to empathize in the way she wants us to. She builds up a big case using Church history details or secular practices and then says the Church is different “but not wrong!”. It either comes across as disingenuous (she really does think something is wrong) or that we should pity those who think it’s wrong (rather than empathize). Joe felt like she could scrap the whole first half, start with the little bit at the end of the first half, and maybe just include one person’s story as the way to empathize. Anyway…
  • She really plays up the representative need over and over again. Also she does that by pointing to the secular world, which will alienate many of her readers who don’t think we should build ourselves on what the world does.
  • “some people…” is another way she keeps herself safe. But what about “other people…?” When she leaves it unbalanced, it’s easy to assume she agrees with every one of those statements
  • If we just use numbers (in General Conference, and so on) to show that there are more men participating or visible than women, then isn’t she equating men with priesthood in a way that we are trying to get away from? They aren’t more visible because they are men, but because of their priesthood office. How many men speak in conference that aren’t in the First Presidency or Quorum of the 12 Apostles? Those might be interesting statistics to look at.
  • Again “It’s hard not to measure…” “It’s hard…” It’s overused.
  • What about unequal time with children as parents? The mother is way more visible in the home. Is that a gender inequality that we should fix? My children are way more influenced by me, if we just go by visibility. I think they are also strongly influenced by my husband too, though. But anyway, why aren’t we pointing to that visibility? Is it because we don’t value children?
  • By page 58, we’re wondering if she assumes everyone is in the business world. Not everyone works in a place where promotion is the only way to compliment or to provide equality. Joe’s academic world doesn’t work that way, he points out.
  • “No other secular option” she says. It’s a bit to authoritative. It seems to justify that we should change things in the Church because people can’t see any other options. Is that good justification? Is it true?
  • In general, I don’t like the “for many women” way of handling things. It isn’t defended, she doesn’t explain answers to their problems, etc. It’s not academic enough to really handle her frame. She assumes too much of society’s current values and they come across as self-evident. There may be reasons to take them seriously, but she never analyzes them and so doesn’t justify that.
  • Also, her discussion of sister missionaries has a line in it that suggests that the purpose (or one of purposes) of having younger and therefore more sister missionaries was visibility of women. That’s a bit strong, I think. Not saving souls, and so forth…
  • She also suggests that having more sister missionaries automatically fixes the problem of half our young population being held back. Weren’t there other ways for them to serve?
  • Will growth demand more use of women leaders? YES. (and that will be for the right reasons, I would think. Sorry if that sounds harsh)
  • Joe: “their own identities” whatever THAT means 🙂
  • “these are people issues” not women’s issues.  Can men on a ward council be seen in the same way??
  • But her final framing is the right one: We all have access to the priesthood, but are we living up to what Oaks/Ballard are teaching?
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