In which my gender essentialism turns on me

As I reported elsewhere, my son got baptized on Saturday. A very strange thing (for me) happened during the confirmation, when my husband called upon his fellow Melchizedek priesthood holders to join him in laying hands on our son: I experienced my first real taste of priesthood envy.

There have been times in the past, such as when my children have been very ill, that I’ve thought, “Gee, it would be convenient to have the priesthood right about now,” but then I’d remember that a prayer of faith is pretty darn handy, too, and so I would not dwell too much on it. Not holding the priesthood has never been a huge deal for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those women who shudder at the thought of having so much responsibility placed on their delicate shoulders. Whenever I hear a woman say, “Oh mercy, I would never want to have the priesthood, I wouldn’t want all that responsibility,” I have the oddest urge to squeal, “But I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!” Because most people don’t know how to respond to an ironic Butterfly McQueen impression, usually I just roll my eyes instead.

I’ve also never been all that fond of the expression that says God doesn’t give us more than we could handle–because what would happen if God did give me more than I could handle? Would I spontaneously combust? With God all things are possible, and I figure if God gave me priesthood responsibilities, I would somehow manage the mix. Mostly what I fear is having to serve in the scouting program or help people move. I hate moving. But that’s another blog, another time. My point is that historically I’ve neither envied nor aspired to the priesthood; I have had bigger theological fish to fry.

Nevertheless, there I was on Saturday, watching my husband and our closest male friends confirming my son a member of the church, and feeling strangely…displaced. I’d felt somewhat dissociated from the whole event, despite the fact that I had been lovingly recruited to lead the opening hymn (despite the fact that I’m a lousy chorister). It was different when my daughter was baptized, and I’m not sure why; if anything I am in a better place now, religiously speaking, than I was then–at least I think so. Thought so. Think so.

I suppose I felt more involved in my daughter’s baptism, simply because I was standing there at the edge of the font with a towel, waiting to lead her into the ladies’ room to dry off and help her get changed and brush her hair. My son, not being a girl, didn’t need me to do any of these things for him. It seemed that I was not needed at all. An unusual feeling for a mother.

So there I was, feeling unneeded and somewhat lost as my husband and those dear brethren ushered my son through this rite of passage, and I confess I was surprised to realize that I was disturbed, maybe even hurt. And then I was confused. Because while I’ve neither envied nor aspired to the priesthood, I’ve also never thought that I was emotionally invested in a male-only priesthood. But as I sat there nursing my priesthood envy, I was reminded that something about men serving together as men, exercising this divine privilege, has always given me the warm fuzzies. Call me sentimental. It’s important for guys to do stuff together; it’s most important for men to do godly things together–specifically, things that men must do. As left out as I felt at the moment, I realized I had no desire to be in that circle, particularly. I desired something, but it was something else. Something that a woman must do.

That I have no idea what that something could be is the source of my religious angst this week. Perhaps this just wasn’t my moment. My son’s baptism isn’t supposed to be about me, after all. But I felt like it was happening without me. I don’t know that it matters. It’s not like I’ve lost my sense of identity or my significance in my son’s life. It’s just not the way I expected to feel.

Comments

  1. Kind of a funny sidenote. I’ve always felt men are given the priesthood to learn qualities that women naturally have. Probably a sexist thought in today’s political climate, but it feels right to me.

  2. I felt the same way when my wife carried both our children to term and delivered them.

  3. I wanted to bless my daughter as she went into labor this past summer–something pioneer women were able to do. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but there are moments in my children’s lives when I would love to be a part of their faith-journeys through the laying on of hands. I honor my husband as he does this (and he gives wonderful blessings), but it would seem very natural to at least have my hands on my child’s head during a blessing–even if my husband spoke the words. Bruce (my husband) has done extensive research on parental blessings common in the Renaissance and before. Maybe I’ll have him guest-post about it sometime–when he has time. That would be about 2010, I think.

  4. Interesting post (which I love. But then, I love everything Rebecca writes, so that doesn’t carry much clout, eh?). I think I can understand what you mean. I haven’t had your experience, yet (and I don’t have Priesthood envy), but I can see what you’re saying. When my husband has blessed our children, I never felt left out –it was probably because I’m less than 2 months removed from birthing them and I’m still sore from nursing them and staying up all night, etc. etc. so I already had a feeling of closeness to the child and the ordinance. I never thought about how I would feel when my SONS are baptized.

    I loved how you talked about Priesthood unity, though. There is just something remarkable about watching a bunch of men who usually just eat nachos and watch football together exercising the power of God and healing a sick child in the middle of the night. It’s beautiful. Ooh! And maybe that’s it! I like watching. If I was participating, I couldn’t be watching…

    (sorry for the randomness)

  5. Mark Brown says:

    I have no idea what that something could be …

    That’s just the thing, isn’t it?

    Congratulations on your son’s baptism, Sister J. These things don’t just happen on their own, and I’m certain that this milestone represents a lot of sustained effort on your part. May your next ten years of parenting be just as successful.

  6. Miriam Knight says:

    I’ve never understood the concept of “Men have Priesthood, Women have Motherhood.” The two roles are not equal. Priesthood is awarded based on worthiness. Motherhood is granted based on giving birth, and often those who deserve or want it are deprived of the opportunity or ability.

    Fatherhood is the equal of Motherhood. It’s a biological status, and equating Motherhood to Priesthood makes no sense. Men have Priesthood. Women do not have anything equivalent, and the right of blessing that Margaret mentioned was stripped from them long ago.

  7. Miriam-
    I may be flogged for saying this, but women have something more: They have intuition, charitable hearts, closeness to the Holy Ghost that sometimes surpasses all understanding.

    Fatherhood and Motherhood are equal only in the terminology: as parents, they parent differently, as they should.

    I, for one, don’t want to see gender roles neutralized in the name of equality. Nothing would ever get done.

  8. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

    I think we sometimes fail to realize and appreciate our own inherent strengths, abilities, and responsibilities and instead sometimes covet that which is more inherent to the opposite gender.

  9. Mark Brown says:

    cheryl,

    Far be it from me to flog you, but can you really cross your heart and hope to die and then tell me that you don’t know any men who have charitable hearts? Because if you can, I am definitely in the wrong church.

    The idea that men cannot be loving or close to the spirit is just so incredibly damaging, and it is rampant in the church today.

  10. I never said men can’t be loving or close to the Spirit. That would be ludicrous. What I was referring to is Miriam’s request for something of equality, and I meant we have more than MOTHERHOOD. I apologize I didn’t make this clear.

  11. Martin Willey says:

    Rebecca: This was great. Thanks. I, too, find the whole gender/priesthood thing pretty complicated. More so now that I have children – – complicated in a good way. I am glad I have the opportunity/responibility to connect with my children spiritually through the preisthood. Sometimes it feels funny to be doing these things without my wife standing by my side; she is their mother. But, I feel, too, that she has her own unique connection with them, and that is ok, right? And, it feels like there cannot be too many ways to connect with them.

  12. Rebecca,

    What does this have to do with gender essentialism? As a person who is very open to women being given the priesthood, I was confused by the title after reading the post. That said, I worried that my wife would feel the way you described at our daughter’s baptism. It makes good sense to me and I sympathize.

  13. Mark Brown says:

    My apologies, cheryl. It is clear that I misunderstood you.

  14. No worries, Mark. I tend to comment without editing and it often gets me into trouble… :)

  15. y son’s baptism isn’t supposed to be about me, after all. But I felt like it was happening without me.

    My daughter this week described her baptism in this way (not her exact words, but you get the drift):

    “It was a special day, but not just for that day, but for forever.”

    Believe it or not, I have sometimes felt a little of that tug like, “Hm. That would be something special to be part of giving the ordinance.”

    But there is so much more to the ordinances than the moment. And as a mom, I feel that I play a huge, huge role both in the preparation (eight years of nurturing, teaching, repeating, loving) and in helping them stay on the path. Sure, Dad helps with that, but honestly, I have more time with them, so the potential for influence in their lives is soberingly significant.

    I don’t mean to minimize the ache you felt, because I do understand it. But it helps me to take a step back and realize that ultimately, the ordinances are fleeting moments. To help our children live and embrace them takes a lifetime. And women are definitely not on the sidelines there. We are in the heart of the game.

  16. Larry the cable guy says:

    I’d like to echo your sentiment about warm fuzzies coming to the men who share in these priesthood ordinances, even while that oversimplifies the nature of the priesthood and the bonding that occurs.

    I was thinking just this morning about the experience of giving my youngest child his name and blessing. While doing so, I could see very clearly how he might have the wonderful experience of growing in the priesthood and one day taking his own child and using the priesthood that I was invoking in that moment (and hope to personally pass on to him) to offer a name and a blessing to my future grandchild.

    Almost simultaneously I became aware of my father, who had blessed me as a baby, standing next to me in the circle along with other men who had been present at that occasion. Let me tell you, getting the words out straight in those blessings can be tough, though the moment could hardly be sweeter.

    Hearts of the children to the fathers, and of the fathers to the children.

  17. CJ Douglass says:

    I felt the same way when my wife carried both our children to term and delivered them.

    These were my thoughts when I read the post. That being said, I reject the “priesthood as equalizer” theory so prevalent in the church today.

    But I do like the “priesthood as unifier” theory that Rebecca seems to hint at. There is more than babies that unify women and yet many men are reduced to sports and beer as their only outlet.

    I’m grateful for that part of my religious experience – even if it seems only to manifests itself in moving people in and out.

  18. Larry the cable guy says:

    Elder’s Quorum Theme song:

    “I like ta move it, move it”

  19. Interesting post. Are there things allowed in the chruch today that would have filled the void for you? (ie. opening prayer, testimony from the mother as apart of the program, etc.) Or do you think it comes down to current rules about priesthood that must be remedied to improve the situation?

  20. I have no idea what that something could be …

    Yeah, me either, but I know how you feel.

  21. To what extent are the roles of men and women defined by the Church as opposed to defined by God?

    I don’t know the answer to this question. I do trust that Church leaders are doing their best to interpret God’s will. As for myself, I can only hope to take responsibility for my own emotional response to the situations I am confronted with. — Perhaps that defines a real lesson in this existence?

    If so, then the real question is how do I handle the ego, pride, hurt, etc. associated with these role defintions? And how do I handle those who disagree with Church position — whether within or outside the Church?

    It seems to me that every day there is a spiritual lesson here.

  22. This is one of my favorite things you’ve written RJ. Very nice. -

  23. I do not know the meaning of all things, and I would not complain for one moment if women were given the Priesthood, but being able to have men perform these ordinances is important to me. I can’t articualte why, but that is how I feel.

    Perhaps it is based on the absolute envy I feel when I see my wife’s face glow as she tells me to feel her stomach as the baby kicks – and I realize we are having fundamentally different experiences. I love feeling the kick from the outside, but I know it’s not like feeling it from the inside. It just isn’t – and I envy that. I don’t envy all the pregnancy issues, but I really do yearn for that kind of closeness and . . . something.

    Fwiw, I think it’s good that neither men nor women can feel exactly what the other does in relation to their children. Some things should be experienced; some things shoud be observed; all things should be shared, in one way or another.

  24. Rebbecca,

    I could be entirely wrong, but I felt that the key passage of you note was

    ” It seemed that I was not needed at all. An unusual feeling for a mother. So there I was, feeling unneeded and somewhat lost as my husband and those dear brethren ushered my son through this rite of passage, and I confess I was surprised to realize that I was disturbed, maybe even hurt.”

    Given my reading, I wonder if it was that feeling of being not needed was more at issue than lacking the priesthood; or, put differently, that because you wanted to feel part of that event more directly, you wanted the priesthood rather than wanting the priesthood in itself.

    But I also have to say that sure this is not the first or only time you’ll feel that way, raising a son, who will as he grows up have experiences different and separate from yours in ways different than would be the case with a daughter. This is perhaps but the first step as he grows into that world of men–a world of men that I think will always exist and be partially closed from that of women (which is ok, and is parallel to the ways in which the world of women is closed from men)–and one to which you will always be a bystander. Most of this will be outside of the church, of course, but not all of it. But as hard as this is, I think, it is worth it, because his going down those paths–even as you watch as much as is possible–is what will give him the chance to be not mere a male, but a good man.

  25. When my children were given their baby blessings, the youngest was a baby, the oldest 4. My husband was inactive and his father gave the blessings. I must’ve been really in tune that day, because I knew what he was going to say just before he said it. I had a real glimpse of how giving blessings work that day.

    When my sons were baptized I was just grateful their father had come back to church and was able to exercise the priesthood.

  26. For those who lust after the priesthood–I say: you can have it. It’s no fun having your conscience poor over you like a barrel of bricks every time you perform an ordinance. Of course, that might be saying a lot more about me than the priesthood, but there you have it.

  27. That’s: pour over you…

  28. I wanted to thank everyone for their comments and assure you that the “envy,” such as it was, was fleeting. Indeed, it flew right out the window once my husband started screaming for the epidural. Just kidding–a little motherhood humor.

    Are there things allowed in the chruch today that would have filled the void for you? (ie. opening prayer, testimony from the mother as apart of the program, etc.) Or do you think it comes down to current rules about priesthood that must be remedied to improve the situation?

    I don’t know that the priesthood rules need remedying. I suspect that it’s probably me that needs remedying :) –but I do know that participating in the program surrounding the ordinances was not the experience I was reaching for. Like I said, I felt more connected to the event when I was handing out towels, which one would expect to be less spiritually edifying than praying or giving a testimony, but there it is. Maybe it’s the rules about who can hand out towels after a baptism that need to be remedied. Then I would be satisfied.

    What does this have to do with gender essentialism?

    Well, I’ve always felt that essential gender differences were a pretty good rationale for women and men having different roles in church or in eternity or whatever, and my primary trouble re gender issues is the absence of a well-defined female role in the face of very specifically defined male roles. And in this case it hit me that I would probably have less angst if it were merely a matter of coveting the priesthood. That would have a simple theoretical remedy: give women priesthood authority and allow them to participate in priesthood ordinances alongside men. But I realized that wasn’t really what I wanted, which led to more angst over not knowing what I wanted. A stereotypically female problem, I suppose.

    But I confess that titles have never been my strong suit. Eventually I will just start numbering my posts instead.

    I’ve never been keen on the motherhood:priesthood analogy, for the same reasons Miriam (#6) mentioned. Women have biological opportunities (and burdens, of course) that men don’t have, can never have–but then, not every woman has those same opportunities, and the opportunities don’t correspond to personal worthiness. However, it is a fine example of Stuff That Ain’t Fair.

    I’ve also never been keen on the proposition that the priesthood helps men to develop qualities that women have naturally. To me it has always felt a bit condescending, but more than that, it’s a lot of pressure to put on a woman, declaring her naturally spiritual or charitable when she may not feel that way at all. At the same time, I think there might be something to the argument that the priesthood provides a structure for men to relate to others in ways they might not otherwise. Building social and personal support networks does seem to come more naturally (that word again!) to women. But that’s just another theory, for what it’s worth.

    I think that what I have is not priesthood envy, per se, but ritual envy. Perhaps I’m overly dependent on ritual as a means of compensating for my lack of natural spirituality. I’m being somewhat facetious, but not entirely.

  29. Susan (#25) – See, this is what I’m talking about. If I were more prone to transcendent experiences, I’m sure I’d never give the priesthood issue another thought. :)

    Jack (#26) – “Lust” is probably overstating things in my own case, but your comment did remind me of the time I complained about morning sickness to a friend of mine who was infertile. Not my proudest moment. (I thought we women were supposed to be naturally sensitive! Doh!)

  30. “…your comment did remind me of the time I complained about morning sickness to a friend of mine who was infertile…”

    That’s only if you view not having the priesthood as a handicap. I’m not sure it works that way.

    And don’t let’s be too nice, Rebecca. I’m trying to start a fight here. ;>)

  31. merrybits says:

    This is so totally off topic and I sincerely apologize for the threadjack – please feel to delete this comment if you wish, but for your information, here is Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Blvd (one of the busiest streets in West LA) has been shut down due to thousands (that’s what I heard on the radio) of protesters outside the LA temple.

  32. merrybits says:

    Oh, I see it’s already up on the sidebar…never mind, then…carry on…

  33. #6 and the comments, “Priesthood is awarded based on worthiness. Motherhood is granted based on giving birth”. Yes, being ordained to the priesthood and advancements in the priesthood should be based upon worthiness. Yet, it has been my experience over the years that priesthood advancement especially as to the Aaronic Priesthood is more a result of the young man reaching the next age group, little more. Yes, there is the comment of the young man having been interviewed and having been found “worthy”. Yet, how many young men maintain that worthiness? How many of us older men maintain our worthiness every day in holding the priesthood? Speaking for myself, my testimony of (and appreciation for) repentance grows more and more when I think about that.

    As for the concept of “motherhood”, I would distinguish between “motherhood” based upon the physical act of delivering an infant into the word, and “motherhood” based upon the acts, deeds (and thoughts reflected by those acts and deeds) of the woman raising the child.
    Yes, physically bearing a child is itself an act of nature and there is no issue of “worthiness” in the physical act of bearing a child.
    On the other hand, being a valiant mother who takes her “calling” to heart is just as important and should, if not must, command just as much respect as any man receiving the priesthood.
    The 2,000 stripling warriors surely reflect the impact of valiant mothers.

  34. That’s only if you view not having the priesthood as a handicap.

    Haha – I wasn’t thinking of it that way. Actually, technically my friend wasn’t infertile – her husband was sterile. Same end result, it just seemed less awkward to say she was infertile than to explain the whole family situation. I didn’t foresee you using my careless word choice against me! Curses!

  35. Mommie Dearest says:

    My recurring thought in reading this interesting post was that it would be nice to have the priesthood at all, in the only way that women (in this life at least) receive it: through marriage in the temple. My dh is not baptized and if he ever is, it will be a bona fide miracle. So, no priesthood (or the attendant blessings) for me. Except through a bona fide miracle.

    My son thoroughly rejected all things mom during his adolescense, and I have had what I consider to be a limited relationship with him ever since. But he still hangs out with his dad when they do guy things. That’s great for them.

    I do see the disparities of gender inequality re: the priesthood, but I’m not bothered by them as much as some women are. I have plenty of other things to worry about, and I think it’s good for men to have such a healthy guy thing as learning about and sharing priesthood service.

  36. I have nothing to add to the discussion, as usual, but I enjoyed this post, Rebecca.

  37. if anything I am in a better place now, religiously speaking, than I was then–at least I think so. Thought so. Think so.

    This is the kind of thing I love about Rebecca’s posts.

  38. I’ve never liked the excuses made for why men have the priesthood, like: “men need the priesthood to be spiritual like women”.

    Remember what the real name of the priesthood is…the Lord’s name is in it. Its not some sort of crutch to help men or anything of the sort. At the least, it is the chain of command through which the Lord’s work is accomplished. At most, it is as described in scripture, the power of God.

    Logically, men respond better to a hierarchical structure than women. Case in point, take the recent prop 8. God told prophet, prophet told apostles, apostles told stake presidents and bishops, who told me…and I hear and obey. My wife, on the other hand, was skeptical at first and took a bit of coaxing. Or take Adam: absolute obedience to the Lord, even to his detriment. It took the skepticism of a woman to cause the Fall. Eve’s act of righteous disobedience was symbolic of why she was not a good fit for the Priesthood, because while righteous it was, disobedience it was too…

    Like or hate it, women interact and organize into different social structures than men do. Men organize into well defined hierarchies, while women tend to organize into flat, loose, nebulous committees.

    The Priesthood is the means by which God’s commands are delivered and executed. Women make sure the substance of those commands are righteous.

  39. Steve Evans says:

    J L., your anecdote aside, I have to tell you that your depiction of Adam and Eve is just stupid. There is no indication in scripture that the Priesthood is not given to women because of their ‘innate skepticism’ or disobedience. Frankly your view of women generally is demeaning, and your assignment of gender roles is ascriptural and smacks of unrighteous dominion. I hope your wife’s righteous skepticism leads you to repent, really.

  40. JL–time to go to the temple again and pay attention a little better. Eve’s skepticism??? You might be in the wrong religion. Try Calvinism. It fits your theology a bit better.

  41. Steve, are you going argue my points or just call my points stupid? Because I can play that game too and degrade this into a childish “you’re dumb. no, YOU’re dumb!” argument as you’ve started to do.

    But I’ll take the first step and respond to your POINTS, what little you actually made.

    there is no indication in scripture that the Priesthood is not given to women because of their ‘innate skepticism’ or disobedience.

    I’m sure you’re aware of this…but in case you didn’t realize, the scriptures not only don’t support my theory, it doesn’t say ANYTHING about why women don’t have the Priesthood. So yes, my Priesthood theory has no scriptural support…and neither will anything you come up with.

    blah blah, you’re stupid and sexist and need to repent…

    I’m rubber, you’re glue…but yes, thank you, bishop for calling me to repentance from your assessment of my life with a single blog post…are you SURE you’re not the Prophet with that kind of all knowing spiritual insight?

    …your assignment of gender roles is ascriptural and smacks of unrighteous dominion

    I will admit that I was stereotyping, but you’re not going to win the argument that its ascriptural. The scriptures are disturbingly sexist and even modern day clarification has distinctly said that differences exist between men and women.

    And I have to LOL at your thinking that men and women DON’T socialize and organize differently. Have you been to a RS meeting vs a priesthood meeting? Men and women socialize differently, each with its strengths and benefits. If you honestly want to argue that men and women are absolutely the same, and socialize and work in the same manner…well, I didn’t want to resort to insults, but I’m sorry, you’re on crack.

    And finally a double LOL at you thinking that believing that men and women socialize differently makes me dominate my wife. [shakeshead]sigh[/shakeshead]

  42. Margaret, maybe skepticism is too strong – but she questioned the commandment at hand. Adam, IMO, did no such thing or was unwilling and would have stayed in the garden forever. Eve, on the other hand, realized something was not quite kosher. So, yeah, she was a wee bit skeptical.

    I’m willing to see otherwise if you present evidence to the contrary…

  43. Steve Evans says:

    Excellent use of allcaps.

    If your Priesthood theory has no scriptural support, then why do you continue to assert it? Why don’t you take the more logical route, which would be simply to say that you don’t know why women don’t have the priesthood? There must be a reason.

    As you indicate with your sarcasm, I am not your bishop. I cannot assess your life from a single blog comment. Nor am I the Prophet. I really have no interest in assessing your entire life. But I do help run this site, and, like any reader, I can read your comment and draw reasonable conclusions. Is your paraphrasing of my initial reply — “blah blah, you’re stupid and sexist and need to repent” — an unfair conclusion?

    Clearly you are sexist on some levels. You draw numerous, sweeping generalizations about both men and women, on the basis of your anecdotal evidence. Almost everything you said in your first comment was in the style of “men do X, while women do Y.” You then go on to suggest that because of these conclusions, men (via the priesthood) are the rightful chain of command. If you do not see this as sexist, then I have to conclude that you do not understand what sexism means.

    Your last comment corrects me, appropriately enough, that assignment of gender roles is in fact scriptural — you note correctly that “the scriptures are disturbingly sexist.” Point taken, there is rampant sexism in the scriptures, as well as murder, rape, and genocide. Does this justify disturbing sexism, then?

    Despite your assertion to the contrary, I’ve made no arguments saying that men and women are absolutely the same. I am smart enough to recognize that we cannot draw any solid conclusions about the behaviors of either sex; male and female roles are so fixed by cultural background and socioeconomic factors that it is impossible to determine which male/female behaviors are innate, and which are taught/imposed. To not recognize this is stupid.

    Finally, regarding any need to repent. I guess we all need to repent whenever we make wrong choices and wrong decisions. That’s the essence of repentance. I apologize for being so strongly-worded about it, but I firmly believe that your teachings on gender here, especially your theory as to why women do not have the Priesthood, are incorrect and against the spirit of equality and unity that our Prophet has preached. On that point I do think you need to re-evaluate things.

  44. Steve, I don’t know why you or anyone here would assume that any blog posting is anything but one’s opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. We’re not apostles and we’re not in Sunday school here. So I think its safe to say that we’re all more or less shooting the breeze.

    I recognize that my opinions, like yours are merely that and could change in the next 5 minutes. I put out my theories and welcome any logical, valid challenge to it. Start degrading into name calling, and I can do the same…

    Now, getting back to arguing my points which you are now doing…

    I neglected to mention it, and I suppose its my fault – but I believe strongly in probability and statistics to model general behavior. When I say “men are X and women are Y”, I’m really saying that generally, “men tend towards X and women tends towards Y”, with obvious cross over. Men are generally physically larger and stronger than women. But does that mean no woman is stronger than a man? Of course not. As for social and historical programming of gender behavior and roles…thats a valid point, but I will theorize that even normalizing for those, gender differences will exist.

    And where is the inequality of my argument? Men and women are different? I never assigned a value to anything. Is my saying that women organize into loose, flat organizations a bad thing? The greatest strength of such an organization is that correct decisions are more likely made through fair discussion. A strong, loyal hierarchical one, while efficient, can propagate bad decisions because you don’t question authority. Case in point, the ever loyal, hierarchical Bush administration, whose unilateral, one-sided decision making has put the country into a world of hurt.

    As for sexism – the Old Testament is bad model, as I’m sure we can all agree on. But there is a world of difference between justifying rape and stoning of women vs the reasons as to why the Priesthood restriction exists.

    I believe the Church is sexist in the purest definition of the word – restriction of positions, callings and laying-on-of-hands based on gender. But dare I say, not all forms of sexism it bad? If the Priesthood is merely an extension of natural male characteristics, is it really unequal to say that women have a less well defined way of exercising that power of God, while men have a well defined one?

    The original author mentioned how she doesn’t like moving people like in Elders Quorum. Yet, that IS the Priesthood – 90% of it is sitting in unglamorous meetings with reports, reports and more reports.

  45. while women tend to organize into flat, loose, nebulous committees

    I have been a female my whole life and this does not fit my experience at all. My personal experience is anecdotal, sure, but I still say this generalization is not helpful in describing the reality of female groups. In many societies where women have been marginalized, things like hierarchies among them are not perhaps as readily apparent or institutionalized as those among men in political and religious power but they exist. Ever seen ‘Mean Girls’? (:)

  46. Minerva, as I said, I am willing to amend my viewpoints given evidence or arguments to the contrary.

    Let me rephrase to say that women don’t organize as hierarchically, with as much blind, unquestioning loyalty as men. I think given an unexplained, illogical command from someone of trust, a woman is more likely to ask, “why” or pose that question longer than a man would.

  47. Adam Greenwood says:

    You might be right, JL, but I’d suggest that everyone falls into hierarchy and status relationships. I think the difference is that men may be more adapted for working within formal or long distance hierarchical relationships. Whether this has anything to do with the priesthood I dunno.

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