Episode 202: Feminist Mormon Housewives

29 comments on “Episode 202: Feminist Mormon Housewives”

  1. Naomi Habbick Reply

    Thank you so much for this podcast!  I am new to this, and have been struggling to get my husband to understand why certain things about the church and women bother me when it didn’t before, and I think this will help so much.  I’m going to have him listen to it tonight.  You did a great job!

  2. Ingrid Goatson Reply

    I’m going to have my husband listen too! Beautifully done. 

  3. seasickyetstilldocked Reply

    Last Sunday a 17 year old YW got up in sac meeting and said basically the following, “when I was younger I thought I wanted to travel the world and have a career but now I have learned that the most important thing I can do is to be a wife and a mother”.  I have a daughter who at 13 made her own money and paid her own way to science camp in another state.  She flew by herself and had a great time.  Last year she did the same.  She has always talked about wanting to be a scientist and do something to help coral reefs………Now, at 15, while still getting good grades, I see her drive and ambition waning.  Of course, one could write this off to being a teenager and loving her iphone 4s but my last conversation with her regarding her study habits (which have tailed off) causing her to get lower grades than she ever has (i know, Bs in all AP courses is not horrible but if you knew my kid, you would know something is going on) and how that could affect her getting into her dream school (UC Santa Barbara)…her response?  “Maybe I don’t want to do that anymore, maybe I just want to be a mom and have kids”  I am not making this up, at all.

    At the very beginning of this podcast, the point of informed consent was brought up within the context of it being ok if a women chose to be a mom or work, as long as she had the opportunity to make an informed decision.   I could not agree more.  I have the same respect for stay at home moms or working moms or women with no children that work etc.  However, what happens to girls in the lds church from the ages of 12 to 18 is not informed consent.  It is a carefully executed process of using the YW program to ingrain into the minds and hearts of each girl that the most important thing they can to is marry the right guy in the right place and then start having kids.  This is the most important thing they can do and they are told as much by a supposed prophet of god.  Under these circumstances, informed consent for a young women does not exist and their ambitions and dreams are carefully synthesized into the life that the church wants them to live.  

    I remember the last YW in excellence I went to.  There were at least 13 graduating girls and all except one was going up to UT or Idaho after graduation…….to find Mr. right and get married.  The one girl who was not going “up” to zion got an internship back east.  She stuck out like an alien or something…..oh, and the parents were less active, go figure.

    The young womens program serves the church, not the girl.  The girl is never given the honest chance to fairly question what she wants to be or do with her life. If the girl does have her own dreams, she is going to have to fight through 6 years of constant indoctrination and peer pressure to achiever them.

    The fight needs to be taken to the youth level because they are being robbed of their own life.

    • Hermes Reply

      You might point out to your daughter that motivated, intelligent young women attract better husbands.  (I am not certain that this is always true, but I think you are more likely to find real love with someone who values you for more than a pretty face and the ability to procreate, pace Spencer W. Kimball and the Family Proclamation.)

    • thayne Reply

      I have four daughters, the oldest is 9 and so is not too far away from the YW program. Your post scared me half to death. I am so glad we are getting out now, rather than later.

      I keep telling my daughters they can be anything they want when they grow up. One of them keeps insisting she is going to be a firefighter. I know they are young, but I am doing my best to encourage those dreams. Thank you for your post. It is jarring and eye-opening.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      This was a very insightful comment. Stuff like this completely breaks my heart and even makes me angry – at the church. I’m so glad I got out but wish my wife could see this kind of stuff. She is completely oblivious – and when I try to bring it up she claims ignorance and acts offended that I could feel that way. She is in complete denial of any and all of the harmful aspects of the church. In her eyes the church can do no wrong.

      • seasickyetstilldocked Reply

        Right there with you brother.  Like, right there.  My wife thinks the YW program is the best way to raise a young women and has been conditioned to the point that she is literally unable to rationally discuss how many parts of this program could be improved let alone damaging to a girl. It should be no surprise that my 4 sisters are exactly the same way. For her own daughters sake she is unable to even see the wisdom when I say, “hey, let’s just take the good in the program and reject the bad”  It is ALL good when it comes to church programs right?

        The church programs need to be attacked and when I listen to podcasts like these I know that within the church there are women more than capable to do it.  Programs are not sacred and they are not infallible and they are not beyond criticism and improvement.

    • TNOrange Reply

      Wow, seasickyetstilldocked, I could have written your post word for word myself 4 years ago. My ambitiously cool daughter was 14 and I felt like I was watching the YW program slowly strangle her blossoming identity and personality.

      It was a trigger that got us (husband and me) finally willing to ask the question, “Is this church really true?” Pretty quick, the answer was a big fat “no”. 

      But the next 2 years were a huge struggle and strain on our relationship with her as her teenage rebellion was to immerse herself further in the church. My husband and I stuck together and kept investing in creating a great life for our family undefined by Mormonism. Eventually it paid off.

      The love bombs got old and there are always some Mormon people in every ward you can count on to be stupid and judgmental. She finally chose to leave herself.

      Now, 4 years later, she is graduating from high school this weekend. She does NOT identify as Mormon anymore. She flexed her power of the vote a couple of weeks ago to vote against Amendment 1. It sadly lost, but her choice to vote against it represents a huge shift for her. She will be attending university this fall… in NC and has no plans to attend a singles ward.

      In fact, she asked me the other day if there were ex-Mormon groups for college aged kids like her. She would love to be in a FB group with other teens whose families have left and have that unique background and experience that never-Mormon people in general do not understand.

      Just wanted to give you a little hope 🙂

  4. Brittany Marie Tingey Reply

    Is there a place that I could find that List of inequalities in Mormonism that is read from during this podcast? Awesome podcast. I am going to forward it on to many of my friends!

  5. thayne Reply

    This podcast taught me a lot and really made me think. To all the guests on the podcast: thank you. And I, too, am disturbed by the lack of changing tables in the men’s room. I am tired of having my baby girl do contortions on the sink’s countertop just to get the poopy mess off of her!

  6. Elder Vader Reply

    It took me a really long time to understand this stuff, or at least acknowledge it as a problem.  I’m still getting the hang of it.  

  7. seasickyetstilldocked Reply

    When I think of the feminist movement I think of like ERA in the 70s and 80s and protests and basically activism in general.  I think of women standing up and asserting themselves and taking an equal position in this world.  I think of women breaking down barriers.  What kind of activism within Mormonism is Feminist Mormon Housewives involved in?  It has got to be more than simply realizing you are in one of the great remaining misogynist organizations in the world and talking about it?  I realize talking and networking on the internet about this issue is a big first step when you are talking about the lds church.  I also realize that as long as this group behaves as if they know their place within the church, the brethren will continue to over look adult women taking pot shots at stupid comments by past prophets like Kimball because these same women give them a free hand in brainwashing all of the younger generations.

    Monson and the other 14 are directly responsible for the young women programs and manuals.  They are directly responsible for the way the RS is run and what these women are allowed to do.  Hell, they are even responsible for those horrible new pictures that hang in every RS room.  You guys seen the one where JS is standing up preaching above all of those women?  Have you taken the time to look at the expression on those women’s faces?  They know exactly the kind of 19 year old girl they are producing…..and these girls all dress the same, act the same and think the same.  While there are always exceptions, this is the rule and the “brethren” take the kind of young women they are producing literally to the BANK.

    At some point doesn’t Mormon Feminism need to go from talking to acting?  At some point don’t women need to directly challenge these sacred men and their stupid programs?  Honestly, if the women did this in real numbers, there would be nothing the brethren could do.  Men may run the church but the women have the power.

    I hope there are some plans for some real activism.  The church does not have a leg to stand on in their defense.

  8. Elder Vader Reply

    So here’s where my mind goes when thinking of women within the church.  First off I think the church does a pretty good job preserving the positives of patriarchy.  But it does itself a huge disservice by not harnessing the talent and brains and commitment of half its members (the women).  

    I browsed through the new relief society manual, and it seems like some of the leadership is at least kind of listening and trying to make positive incremental improvements to give women more of a voice, by actually quoting women in the relief society manual.  But given the kinds of things that would be easily implemented… it just comes off as too little, a drop in the bucket.  

    Things like putting two women in the bishopric, or having the relief society president do worthiness interviews for the women – that would be easy.  Giving the relief society control over its own budget, and allowing it to raise funds.  Easy.  

  9. Erin Lindsey Hiatt Reply

    Thanks for this podcast! Really great, but I have a little bit I’d like to add. This isn’t coming from a mean place; I just wanted to elaborate on something that was said offhanded at the top of the podcast. You were talking about how extreme feminists are typically the only ones who think stay-at-home moms are making the wrong choice. I don’t see myself as a fringe extremist, but I do think that for a lot of people staying home is a poor choice. This, for me, comes down to loss of autonomy more than the idea of wasting your potential. A lot of housewives I know spend their time in really enriching ways. They are creative, they read books (even those not written by Church authorities or GlennBeck), they get together with other women, they watch their kids grow up, and they actually know how to clean baseboards. You can stay home and still be just as creative and savvy and smart as any working gal. But I do think that when you rely on your husband for everything you have, you’re not in control of your life—present or future. In a perfect world, the “traditional” model might work out. You might be lucky enough to have a husband who works consistently all his life and earns enough to save for your retirement. But, things happen. Most women don’t realize how much opting out of the workforce for a few years (let alone twenty) affects pay and retirement savings. If your husband dies or leaves you (which happens all the time to people who think they have a fairytale relationship), you could be facing a $1500 house payment, plus utilities, gasoline, car payment, food, health insurance (which has doubled or tripled without the employer contribution that you husband’s job offered), and five kids to feed, clothe, AND nurture, all on your own. If you’re not educated or haven’t stayed on top of your job skills, you’re not going to land a great job right off the bat, and if you haven’t worked in twenty years, expect to start at the bottom of both the ladder and the pay scale. The unfortunately titled book The Feminine Mistake has a lot of interviews that show how even ivy-league graduates can end up working at low-paying jobs well into their seventies because they made the mistake of seeing a husband as a financial plan. It seems cynical and cold to say you shouldn’t trust your husband with your life, but so be it. I think it’s just pragmatism. Now, I adore my husband. He’s the best. But the reality is you just never know what will happen, and while I feel I could rely on him to provide for us all by himself, it’s terrifying to feel like I’m not in direct control of whether I have to be a cashier at seventy or if I can retire from an upper-management job at fifty and live off the interest from my investments. Thoughts? Again, I don’t think being a stay-at-home mom is stupid or without its significant demands or challenges. I just know from experience how terrible it feels to realize that another person—even if he is your husband—has so much control over how you live.

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

       Thank you for saying this Erin, I think it needs to be heard.

      I am the living example of this. I married young (19), had 3 kids right away (I was aged 20, 22 and 23) and stayed home with my kids because ‘it’s what I’m supposed to do.’ Fortunately I also finished my degree and trained myself in a set of skills that were not only possible to do while at home but were reasonably well-paying (I started out in web-design and ended up spending more time consulting in social-networking and branding). However, I didn’t take my career seriously because it was just something I did to entertain myself and make a bit of extra money. It wasn’t supposed to be my ‘REAL’ job. I only took on contracts I was really interested in. I didn’t always update my skills and I missed out on a lot of opportunities. But, after all, my husband had the ‘REAL’ job (although since he was in the  military for the first bit of our marriage that real job didn’t pay terribly well – my ‘fake’ job would have been far more lucrative).

      Then that very worst what-if happened and I was left with very little savings and three kids to raise. I had to move out of the state I was living in which meant I lost the network I relied on, and my new state was horribly behind in my field so the opportunities were really slim. What’s more, naturally, I was coping with enormous and crippling emotional stress which made chasing down contracts nearly impossible. BUT – imagine if I HADN’T had those skills? Imagine if my job history were not current, if I didn’t know how to write a resume and sell myself, if I wasn’t confident in my interviewing skills? That is a truly terrifying situation to be in.

      But while it’s important to tell women about the need to be job-ready just in case, I think it’s equally important to point out that this rhetoric, this ‘staying home is righteous and spiritual and the best possible thing for absolutely everyone leaves women horribly vulnerable. A woman who has few or no job skills, who cannot support herself and her dependents, is far more likely to stay in an abusive situation because she simply feels she has no other options. No, not every woman will be abused, but the point here is that the institutional rhetoric puts ALL women at risk, makes ALL Mormon women vulnerable, and never acknowledges that fact.

      • Kevin Johnson Reply

        Wow Megan

        This really moved me.  You have really pinned the church’s stance on women for what it is–as seriously dangerous.

  10. Cate Rawson Reply

    Loved this podcast!!  I only wish that I could find more women in my real life like the ladies on this podcast.  
    The list SHOCKED me.  Even as a lifelong mormon feminist (and now mormon feminist housewife) I never realized just how much the inequality blankets the church.  WOW.  

    I wrote this little song a couple weeks ago after reading an article that irked me.  Thought the listeners here could appreciate it and relate. 😉

  11. Erin Lindsey Hiatt Reply

    Of course I don’t want to reinforce the church’s teaching that emergency is the only reason to consider a job. I just wanted to point out how easily Mormon women tend to assume that this problem of financial autonomy won’t be an issue for them.

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

       Whoops – should have read further before I hit reply. Exactly!

      Also, it’s important to point out that the happy idea that one can ‘just catch up after the children are older,’ is incredibly misleading. Trying to re-join the job force after an extended break, without current job skills means women will be competing for lower-paying jobs, often against people who do not have children (who are sometimes seen as a liability in a hire).

  12. Cindy Kuhrasch Reply

    Such an interesting perspective and thoughtful commenting by the participants…thank you!  This podcast initiated a flood of response in me.

    I struggle with my identity as a woman because it is so closely tied to what I believe is acceptable to God.  When a church, or any institution for that matter, defines God’s list of acceptable actions or traits for a gender or role, it discourages anyone who doesn’t perform those actions or possess those traits.  Since God created us all individually…as we are…how dare anyone deign to speak for Him and create a general, across the board one-size-fits-all definition.  It is hurtful to us and depreciating to God. 

  13. ZDZiff Reply

    I loved the podcast! You all are hilarious! (Lisa, I think you should go as She Who Must Not Be Mentioned, since you’re too sacred to be discussed.) And excellent, excellent points. I really look forward to the regular fMh podcast.

  14. Steve Kimball Reply

    Licked cupcakes.  What else can be said about how damaging LDS teachings are to YW and YW who grow up and still believe that.

    • jeremy Reply

      I had this conversation with my wife. She sees absolutely NO problem with these kind of lessons. The licked cupcake, the chewed gum, the dirty passed-around flower, etc. I was shocked. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised, since she’s still firmly attached to the church.

  15. Sweet_Swede Reply

    Totally liked the pod and agree 100%. The only thing that tricks my mind is why you stay. Why? The inequality may sometimes be due to local practice or culture, but most of it is doctrinal.

    The priesthood will never be given to women, the temple ceremony will not change in that aspect, the role of the man as the head of the family is fixed.

    Even though i admire your fighting spirits, the war can never be won. I say save your daughters and leave!

    I think the strongest statement is to step away from an organisation that does so much harm.

    Why don’t you? Just interested to know.

    • seasickyetstilldocked Reply

      Wife still believes, yada yada yada.  I have a disengagement strategy to eventually get my entire family out……it is going well but at the same time is never good enough because in all honestly ,yes, I can’t get them out fast enough.  I don’t care so much about winning a land war in China either.  I just want my family out and then…………….we resign and just go off the church grid.

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