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Mar 08 2014

Pieces of chewed gum

Women who are Mormons are noticing that Mormonism isn’t very friendly to women.

Last year, when Kristy Money was planning a baby-naming ceremony in her Mormon congregation, she asked if she could hold her newborn during the ceremony, sitting or standing inside the circle of men who would bless her daughter.

“All I want is to hold my baby,” Dr. Money, a 29-year-old psychologist in Santa Monica, Calif., said she told her bishop. She said he refused, explaining that only men who hold the priesthood could participate.

So Kristy Money should get out of that congregation and that religion so that her daughter will not be raised in a religion that treats her as an inferior. I don’t suppose she will though.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose priests and governing authorities form an entirely male gallery of leaders, is facing a geyser of questions from women who want more participation and visibility in virtually every aspect of Mormon life. While many Mormon women say they are satisfied with the way things are, others want to hold the priesthood along with men, essentially erasing the faith’s long-held idea that God wants men and women to perform different roles.

Not just different. Don’t sugar-coat it, New York Times. It’s the religion’s long-held idea that God wants men to have all the authority and women to be subordinate to them. “Different roles” is way too euphemistic. Don’t do that.

In response to an article in The New York Times on Sunday, in which church leaders said they were interested in expanding opportunities for female members, Mormon women poured out requests: to be Sunday school presidents, to plan worship, to be allowed to teach seminary while they have children under 18, and to let their daughters serve as ushers.

“My husband’s group of young men recently trained to climb Mount Rainier together,” Jennifer McDonald, a 36-year-old clinical psychologist in DuPont, Wash., who supports women’s ordination, wrote in an email. The corresponding activities for young women were “quilting, making friendship bracelets, and hair styling,” she said.

See that? That’s “different” but it’s also better versus worse, higher versus lower. Crafts are fun, but not when they’re the only option.

Many asked that church authorities stop trying to inculcate chastity by comparing women who have had sex outside of marriage to “pieces of chewed gum, boards with holes nailed into them, muffins that someone else had already tasted,” said Elisa Koler, 29, a teacher and former missionary who stopped attending church because of concerns about how women are treated.

Elisa Koler had the right idea. More women should do that, and so should more men. Get out.

More than 1,300 Mormon women have signed a manifesto outlining specific changes. The document, titled “All Are Alike Unto God,” asks the men who run the church to consider women’s ordination, which officials in Salt Lake City say is out of the question. Only opening the priesthood to women can address the gender imbalance in the church, contends Kate Kelly, a human rights attorney in Washington who founded the Ordain Women movement. “Not only do Mormons believe the priesthood is the power of God, and can perform and officiate in miracles, but it’s also completely intertwined with the governance structure of the church,” she said. “There is no amount of incremental change, and no amount of additional concessions that the church can make to extend an olive branch to women without changing that fundamental inequality.”

Exactly. It’s not just a job, it’s the power structure of the whole organization. When women are officially excluded, women are officially an inferior class. That’s a bad arrangement.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    mck9

    These women fail to realize that they already have a vital role within the Church. They can serve coffee to the men.

    Oh wait. They’re Mormon. That doesn’t work.

  2. 2
    rnilsson

    @#1 Lol! Luckily wasn’t imbibing anything at the time.

    Also, being the nominal-compulsory-disturbed person who is me, the irony of a Mormon psychology professional named Kristy Money does not escape me easily.

  3. 3
    Al Dente

    Both Joseph Smith, the inventor of Mormonism, and his successor Brigham Young believed the function of women was to be their sex objects. Smith had 34 wives but was a piker compared to Young, who had 55 wives. Some of these women were married to other men when Smith or Young decided they needed a new bed warmer. Incidentally, the LDS church has poured millions into political campaigns to prevent same sex marriage, since the church’s hierarchy are, to a man, in favor of “traditional marriage.”

  4. 4
    rnilsson

    @#3 Larfing fru my tears.
    Mormon Church of Irony Or Men?

  5. 5
    AsqJames

    Meanwhile in the UK, women who are Orthodox Jews are noticing that Orthodox Judaism isn’t very friendly to women (may not work outside UK). Only rather than try to reform their religion, or switch to a Reform synagogue, these two (intelligent, educated, successful, powerful, etc) women seem to be trying to reconcile the irreconcilable within their own lives/heads.

    Emma Barnett is 29 and Women’s Editor of the Daily Telegraph. She regards herself as a feminist, she demands equality in the workplace and in all aspects of her secular life. But she has a secret: as an orthodox Jew, when attending synagogue, she is happy to sit separately from the men, not to take part in the service and finds it hard to embrace the concept of women rabbis.

    For the next two weeks in One to One, Emma tries to get to resolve this contradiction by talking to women who also wrestle with this dilemma; when the values you hold in secular life are not the same as those in your religious life, those you hold in your public life may not be the same as those in your private life.

    Emma says; ‘This is an uncomfortable position, I want to rid my brain of these views, which don’t make sense to me in my daily life. I would like unpack this double standard and get rid of this illogical hypocrisy.’

    This week she talks to a highly successful barrister, feminist and orthodox jew who explains how she relieves the tensions raised by her contradictory life.

  6. 6
    Pierce R. Butler

    … Mormons believe the priesthood is the power of God, and can perform and officiate in miracles…

    Ms. Kelly, please ask one of those powerful priests to show you a miracle (no, impregnation doesn’t count).

  7. 7
    Blanche Quizno

    “Mormonism isn’t very friendly to women”

    And in other news, water is still wet.

    “Many asked that church authorities stop trying to inculcate chastity by comparing women who have had sex outside of marriage to “pieces of chewed gum, boards with holes nailed into them, muffins that someone else had already tasted,” said Elisa Koler, 29, a teacher and former missionary who stopped attending church because of concerns about how women are treated.”

    That “used chewing gum” imagery was precisely the terminology former kidnapped Mormon Elizabeth Smart used last year in describing her reaction having been raped by that horrible gross kidnapper guy and speaking out AGAINST abstinence-only sex ed:

    “In 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home, held captive in the mountains, and raped repeatedly for nine months.* Since her escape, she has emerged as an advocate for human trafficking victims—and recently, a critic of abstinence-only sex education. When Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins University panel last week, she explained one of the factors deterring her from escaping her attacker: She felt so worthless after being raped that she felt unfit to return to her society, which had communicated some hard and fast rules about premarital sexual contact.

    “I remember in school one time, I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence,” Smart told the panel. “And she said, ‘Imagine you’re a stick of gum. When you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed. And if you do that lots of times, you’re going to become an old piece of gum, and who is going to want you after that?’ Well, that’s terrible. No one should ever say that. But for me, I thought, ‘I’m that chewed-up piece of gum.’ Nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that’s how easy it is to feel you no longer have worth. Your life no longer has value.”

    As Jessica Valenti points out, the chewing gum analogy is a typical tactic employed by abstinence-only advocates to try to scare teenagers away from having sex. And while stunts like those are often delivered to coed groups, the messaging falls harder on girls: If one person is the gum, the other person chews. It’s difficult to add a rape exemption to that kind of visual. In the case that you’re abducted, does God lend you a fresh stick?” http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/05/06/elizabeth_smart_abstinence_only_sex_education_hurts_victims_of_rape_and.html

    As you can see, this reduces a female’s value to the state of her hymen. And after that, she’s worthless unless she is “owned” by the man who destroyed her hymen. Ugh – it makes me feel dirty just typing that. These people and their religion are absolutely disgusting.

    But on a happier note, young men are leaving the Mormon church in droves, and, given that children overwhelmingly pattern their later attitudes toward religion and church attendance on that of their fathers, this is especially devastating for Mormonism: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-05-024-v

  8. 8
    Blanche Quizno

    PS – and yet Elizabeth Smart remains within that horrible religion that even she acknowledges twisted her mind and messed up her life (her kidnapper was a gross Mormon too). Childhood indoctrination into religion should be prosecuted as the child abuse it is.

  9. 9
    IncredulousMark

    A woman choosing to be a Mormon is akin to a black man joining the KKK or a Jew becoming a Nazi.

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