We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Parents

Just kidding.  Sister Dalton’s talk was actually titled “We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father.”  Let’s leap in.  Sis. Dalton starts off by talking about the Young Women theme.

It is not only an affirmation of our identity–who we are–but also an acknowledgement of whose we are.  We are daughters of an exalted Being!

Her use of the singular form is either a wasted opportunity to refer to Heavenly Parents (there were many such missed opportunities in General Conference), or the church may be ready to change the nature of how eternal procreation happens to not requiring any female involvement.  I suspect it was a simple oversight, but you never know.  Moving on.

This talk is Sister Dalton’s swan song, having been released as YW president.  In light of that, it is somewhat fitting that she chooses the opportunity to honor her parents.

Playing Parts

We all fill roles in our lives:  daughter, mother, employee, boss, customer, friend.  But these roles are not our identity.  This is why people often undergo an identity crisis later in life:  role changes (e.g. children leave the nest, person loses job, etc.), identity gone!  Because she is talking about being the offspring of an exalted being, I’ll let that reference slide because it implies that our identity is that of someone with potential to become an exalted being, something that should be deeply enmeshed in our identity.  Let’s assume that was the intention.

Sister Dalton then shares a personal tragedy that she had in her youth, losing her father.  She shares an anecdote of seeing the following phrase on a stone at the Scotland mission home:  “Whate’er thou art, act well thy part.”

At that moment, those words went deeply into my heart and I felt the powers of heaven reach out and give me a message.  I knew I was known by a loving Heavenly Father.  I felt I was not alone . . .  That simple statement renewed my vision that Heavenly Father knew me and had a plan for my life and the spirit I felt helped me understand that my part mattered.

This is Sis. Dalton’s lived experience, and props to her for sharing her own path with us in this public way.  In the story, she is also missing her earthly father and connecting with her Heavenly Father in her moments of feeling alone, a very human response.  I’m sure we can all identify with feelings of loneliness.

Part of growing up is figuring out our own individual dreams and purposes in life, not just filling a prescribed role or our parents’ expectations.  In this example, the role is comforting to her because she is lonely.  But maybe she is referring to our individual purpose in life, not just a cookie cutter role for women of mother, domestic helper, diaper-changer, etc.  Let’s hope so.

Our daily contributions of nurturing, teaching, and caring for others may seem mundane, diminished, difficult, and demeaning at times . . .

I was merely . . . acting!

Nope, sorry again.  Looks like we’re only talking about a narrowly prescribed stereotyped role for women here.  Again, this could be Sis. Dalton’s lived experience, but this sort of talk reinforces limitations for our young women that can be very harmful for those whose dreams conflict or who feel they have an individual mission in life.  I couldn’t help but think of this heartbreaking post by a young Laurel on another forum:

One day in YW’s we were having a lesson on motherhood. My YW leader . . . launched into a rant on how a woman’s job is to have children and it is highly discouraged by the church for a woman with children to have a career, and it is highly discouraged for a woman to not have children . . .  .  I left church that day in tears. Half of them angry tears, half of them tears of humiliation, shame, and disappointment. Back then I thought God was angry at me for not wanting to have children, and for wanting a career.

If we want these girls to ultimately leave the church, feeling they can either be true to themselves or pretend to be what they are not, we’re heading down the right track.

Sister Dalton’s Mother

Next, Sis. Dalton shares another moving tribute to a beloved parent:  her mother.  She shares that her widowed mother financially supported the family by teaching school and piano.  Although the paid work her mother did is still within the realm of what is traditionally acceptable for women, it is a touching story of a woman supporting her family in the wake of personal loss.  Sis. Dalton’s mother also made sure all her children (even the girls) received a college education, another noble aim, so that they could be “contributors.”  I assume this means contributors to society or maybe even financial contributors to the home as she had to be.  Sis. Dalton doesn’t specify.  She says her mother was faithful and focused on covenants.

She was never recognized by the world.  She didn’t want that.  She understood who she was and whose she was–a daughter of God.

I question the implication that anonymity is inherently virtuous.  Is this intended to keep women in their place, behind the scenes, playing a part as defined by relationships to others?  Perhaps so, because she next goes on to extol the virtues of motherhood as the hand that rocks the cradle.  Mothers are influential, but only by mothering those who influence and staying out of the picture.  The role of women is further clarified, entirely in relation to men:

How you love and honor her father, his priesthood, and his divine role, will be reflected and perhaps amplified in your daughter’s attitudes and behavior.

Next she quotes the Proclamation on the Family to clarify the part we women must “act well.”  I know many women feel that these heavily prescribed roles require a good deal of pretense to fulfill as written, so again, the analogy works in ways not intended.

Talking about Virtue Isn’t Always a Virtue

The talk pivots as she renews a call for virtue, “a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.”  She decries pornography and the objectification of women.  However, she is not clear how this is a message for the women who are being mistreated or objectified.  How do the virtuous thought patterns of LDS women eliminate pornography or halt the objectification of women?  Certainly she doesn’t think virtuous women are participating in pornography.  Is this victim blaming or did she simply not finish her thought?  I certainly agree that we all, men and women, should take a stand against harmful sexual objectification.

She cites the example of the women in the Book of Mormon who were brutally raped and murdered, connecting this (as does the scripture, erroneously) to them having lost their “virtue.”  In this context, virtue means virginity.  They were robbed of “maidenhead” and lost their dignity and their innocence, as well as their lives.  It is not doctrine to say they lost their “virtue” (they were blameless, after all), and it is a very harmful message to women who have been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, many of whom already struggle with suicidal feelings.

I’m positive this was not intentional and that Sis. Dalton would mourn with those who mourn, but as a church with an unprofessional clergy, we seem particularly tone deaf to how the abused internalize our messages.

Vacuuming Carpet, Standing on It

Ladies, get yourselves one of these.  But not the crappy kind that burn out easily.

Following that, she shares a story about the construction of the Conference Center.  Her husband was installing the carpet, and her “part” was to vacuum it.  After the carpet was in, he asked her opinion on what scripture should be written on the back of the carpet. I know much ado has been made about the fact that one of the few female speakers in General Conference just shared a story about vacuuming.  Men vacuum as well as women, and she was just doing her “part” to build the conference (doing it well by her reckoning, having burned through a vacuum cleaner.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that, although the dust bag did once get full and require emptying).

As a non-Utah native, I sometimes wonder when I hear stories like this.  It seems quite a coincidence that someone involved in the construction of the Conference Center is now speaking in it.  There are quite a few stories like this told at General Conference.  When I first went to Utah, I imagined that it must be so small that I’d be running into GAs and apostles at the movies or grocery store all the time, but I never did.  Weird.

The vacuuming story at least gives her a clever ending to the talk–that she’s gone from vacuuming the carpet to standing on it, revealing the secret scripture scrawled underfoot, Mosiah 18:9:  “Stand as [a] witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.”  Religious punsters!  Gotta love ‘em!

Now, for our readers:  What quotation would you write under the carpet you stand on?

I’m going to go with “If found, please return to [my address].  Will accept cash in lieu of carpet.”  Have you seen those carpets the church buys?  Holy thread count, batman!

Comments

  1. This is a tough piece, but I think fair. Thanks for writing it.

    As a kind of companion piece or counterpoint, I give my strongest recommendation to readers to also check out this awesomely outstanding piece by Kris Wright over at Juvenile Instructor blog. She has a historian’s take on the vacuum anecdote. She sees it as part of a long and beautifully rich history of women’s contributions to the church, and their experiences of the divine, being tied to tangible objects and physical work. Kris is a BCC alum. She and BCCer J. Stapley are coauthors of a landmark paper about the history of women performing priesthood functions like laying on hands blessings for healing in early church history.

    Anyway, I don’t think there’s really any contradiction between this piece and Kris’, and I very much appreciated both of them, but for very different reasons and I think it would be great to have readers get both perspectives.

  2. Loved this post, and agree 100%. I’ve already gotten way too involved on the FMH thread about virtue/rape.
    My husband does all the vacuuming and a good portion of the nurturing. And he’s not acting a part- he IS a parent, that is PART of his identity, but it is not the sum of it. I work fulltime and bring home the bacon- again, that is part of me, but it isn’t my identity. My identity as a compassionate, (overly) sensitive, intelligent, analytical, (generally unmotivated) woman, has existed long before I was married, though I didn’t know it at the time. Because of years in YW, I thought my identity was “future mother”, and that life wouldn’t start and I wouldn’t find my true value until I was married with kids. In a way, that’s right, I didn’t find my true value until after I had kids, but to be honest, it was working out of the home that helped me find it, as I realized I had been a pretty worthy person all along, that some of my favorite aspects of myself have nothing to do with children (aside from me hoping to pass some of them along). I wish I could go back in time and convince my 16-year-old self of that, especially considering how sad that 16-year-old was when she was (mis)diagnosed with PCOS and thought her potential as a baby-maker, and therefore her future source of validation and worth, was at risk.

    So I’d put under the carpet: “Divine, eternal beings aren’t defined by vacuums.”

  3. Amen to Jenn!!

  4. I have always understood that living the gospel required me to give up things that I want in life in order to do what God wants. All of us can point to gospel principles that we’d rather not live and that might not be contemplated in our plans for ourselves. That is part of mortality. One is not being dishonest with themself if they adhere to a commandment that they would rather ignore. i think that this is one of the great struggles in life – doing the right thing when we do not want to do so.

    Thus, I do not think we need to make victims out of those who are offended because they are asked to give up something they desire in order to adhere to gospel principles.

    I do not know what was said to the Laurel that Hawk refers to. Perhaps it was out of line and went further than the brethren, the scriptures and the ordinances require of us. Perhap, it was said in an unkind, unchristian manner. If that is the case, then it was out of line.

    Nonetheless, I do not think that we need to make a martyr out of one who struggles with the commandment to multiply and replish — a command given to Adam and Eve which is featured prominently in the crowning ordinances of the temple — anymore than we should make a martyr out of someone who struggles to keep any other commandment.

    Rather than validating the feeling that those who tell us to do something that we don’t want to do — including God — are somehow doing us violence, our time would be better spent encouraging, comforting and teaching those who struggle with a particular principle until they are able to live it. All of us should be taught that the gospel requires sacrifice, and we shouldn’t be surprised when we are asked to make them of things that are dear to us.

  5. Thanks for taking this apart Hawkgirrrl.

    There are a lot of subtle messages in this talk and some not so subtle but basically the same old 1950s traditional gender role messages are still being strongly reinforced. Shall I buy my daughter a hard hat, safety glasses and a couple of vacuums in preparation to receive the spiritual gift of housekeeping? Times have changed, but tell that to the Amish!

    I was just taking a look at GC church “growth” statistics by comparing 2011 to 2013 adding new children to converts growth was 0.3% or negligible, while missionaries increased almost 7% in the same period. Apparently missionaries are reaping less than they used to! No wonder the age was lowered, we are quickly approaching negative growth. I wonder why?

  6. Quote: “People who think they are too good to vacuum suck.” As for the OP, I hope the next time I give a talk people don’t sit around and nitpick it to death.

  7. hawkgrrrl says:

    Odds are that a girl who doesn’t thrill at the idea of having children at 16 might have a different perspective eventually. I’m really not sure why anyone would be trying to convince teens that they should commit now to such big future decisions. Why not start with the next milestones: preparing for college and a mission? There’s so much to look forward to and so many possibilities. No need to skip ahead in the book of life.

    I wish I had a like button for your carpet quote, Jenn.

  8. Wow, moderator, sorry for using humour. But I think my funnies implied a valid point; namely, that LDS stereotypical gender roles are entwined with the culture of our oldest leaders, which is firmly in the pre-feminist 1950’s. These men were in turn influenced by their oldest leaders, who were products of the polygamy era. See how my humourous approach was much more interesting?

  9. Hawk, thanks so much for this. You articulated well, what I have been thinking about this talk.

    About the virtue card: I really really dislike the way we only use it relation to women in the Church – with the implication that its all about female chastity.

    As a man, I strive for virtue too. And its not all about avoiding pornography and “unclean thoughts”. Its about following Jesus in every way and developing the habits of goodness. Sis. Dalton, if you’re out there, check out a book called After You Believe, for a great explanation of this.

  10. I thought the carpet story was a very good one, highlighting that it’s important to do one’s part regardless of the apparent magnitude of the task – whether that be vacuuming or speaking in General Conference.

    There are many women AND men in the Church who support their families by doing things like vacuuming and cleaning and whatever else is necessary that might seem demeaning to more affluent members – and Sister Dalton also has said in both of her most recent talks that she was encouraged to get a college degree and appreciates that counsel. I am saddened when the big picture she painted gets lost in one of the details, especially when that detail was used to make the larger point. She went from vacuuming the carpet to choosing the verse to write under it to standing on it while speaking from the pulpit in General Conference – and she tried to do her part the best she could in each instance. That’s a powerful message, but in our lives of relative luxury we tend to dismiss the work many members do and deride leaders who recognize those simple tasks that must be done as being important.

    I probably would suggest Matthew 20:26:

    “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.”

  11. I also don’t like referring to women who have been raped as having lost their virtue.

    I don’t agree, and I think it’s a terrible message to send.

  12. Ray,
    I agree that is the simple face value reading of it and there certainly is uplifting value to that take, but when we look deeper we see that our children are being guided by subtle messages that are repeated and repeated and repeated so that in sum they end up having a large impact. Is spiritually mindful housekeeping the take away message you would choose for your daughter’s career guidance? It isn’t mine.

  13. Peter LLC says:

    I hope the next time I give a talk people don’t sit around and nitpick it to death.

    I set my sights so low I’d be flattered anybody paid attention.

  14. hawkgrrrl says:

    Being nitpicked is just the nature of the beast. If you’re not being nitpicked, you’re not making a difference. That means people were paying attention and being thoughtful about what you said. Who are the biggest nitpickers of Star Trek? The trekkers. I rest my case.

  15. I much appreciated Sister Dalton’s talk — it was an honest expression of faith, sincerely offered as a help to fellow Saints. I received it as a wonderful gift. May God bless her in her continued efforts to testify and teach.

  16. “Being nitpicked is just the nature of the beast.” If you’re a professional writer or speaker. If you’re running for political office. And in many other situations. But to sit down and draft a talk, think of your life experiences, and so forth, and then have to get up in front of thousands of people and deliver it? Hardly a time to be nitpicked to death. If I wanted, I could literally take every line of the OP and others who are trying to find something to gripe about what church leaders say, and address them with sarcasm and snark and wit. I, too, can take anything out of context, twist it, distort it, and even take offense at it. Don’t have the time and don’t really care to because I’ve got some vacuuming to do. Sister Dalton has never been a favorite of feminists, so it’s no surprise that just about anything that comes out of her mouth would be attacked. Still, she’s the one who’s sacrificed the last 10 years or so of her life trying to improve the lives of our young women, spent time away from family, etc. I doubt any of the people floating around here can say the same.

  17. Not to nitpick, but that’s “Trekkies”.

  18. @CJ I discuss virtue as a relevant characterisitc for my boys the same as girls. It sounded funny at first, but it is important for all. Glad I’m not the only one!

  19. Don’t have the time and don’t really care to because I’ve got some vacuuming to do. Too funny IDIAT!

  20. Lamplighter says:

    “Making a difference” to me is a positive thing. Your “nitpicking” makes her talk sound like it was anything but positive. Which is it? Sis. Dalton shared some very personal incidents from her life, I learned a long time ago never to do that in a talk. There are always those in the audience who just don’t “get it” and criticize. That hurts. Star Trek?????

  21. Aaron: Definitely trekker. Trekkie is what non-trekkers call fans, often disparagingly. Trekker is what fans call themselves.

  22. Researcher says:

    One of the things that has struck me about the reaction to Sister Dalton’s talk is the veiled and not-so-veiled classism. Sure we may not want our children to vacuum and clean houses for a living, but there are many Saints who do, and who should be made to feel welcome in our midst.

    Besides, if you’ve done your building cleaning assignment recently, isn’t vacuuming the church a vital and easily-recognizable part of Mormon life, regardless of who’s doing it? I think people are reading messages into Sister Dalton’s talk that weren’t actually there.

  23. it's a series of tubes says:

    I think people are reading messages into Sister Dalton’s talk that weren’t actually there.

    Wouldn’t be the first time around these parts.

  24. Shucks! Looks like my true identity has been affirmed – another bozo who likes to criticize not out of personal conviction, but merely recreationally…

  25. hawkgrrrl writes: “If you’re not being nitpicked, you’re not making a difference.”

    Remind me where the posts nitpicking President Uchtdorf’s talks are.

  26. As entertaining as this OP and thread are, I have a hard time taking it seriously given the deeply entrenched projection of Dalton’s intent by the OP.

  27. Quote: “People who think they are too good to vacuum suck.” As for the OP, I hope the next time I give a talk people don’t sit around and nitpick it to death.

    Yes, better that they do what normally happens in sacrament meeting…fall asleep, hear bits and pieces, and carry on their merry way not giving it a second thought. If our words aren’t to be taken seriously what the heck are we doing all this for?

    Re the OP –
    When I heard the talk my first thought was “oh dear, the feminists will have a field day with this.” I do agree with hawkgrrrl that a lot of the talk was fairly careless. I don’t judge her for that…I make careless statements too. But the messages sent this conference about chastity and virtue and “procreative powers” and Heavenly Father and Jesus and being children of an exalted Being is all very strange. It feels like we’re straining at a gnat to make sure we fit squarely in a prescribed box and avoid the “appearance of evil” as it were. Also, the message about virtue and rape is just plain careless and inappropriate. I think hawk analyzed that in about the most generous light possible. I’m giving Sister Dalton the benefit of the doubt though. She is a product of our culture, as we all are.

    Having said that, I do think there were highlights. For example in this part:

    Our daily contributions of nurturing, teaching, and caring for others may seem mundane, diminished, difficult, and demeaning at times . . .

    although “nurturing, teaching, and caring” ARE buzzwords for the prescribed roles of women in the church, I suppose I actually interpreted it in a broader sense that WE ALL make contributions of nurturing, teaching, and caring as parents, and those are diminished, mundane, and difficult at times.

    As a single dad, perhaps I relate a bit more to and interpret differently these types of statements than I used to. As much as the prescribed roles irritate feminists at times, and contribute to our patriarchal culture and its associated ills, I find myself grateful for the talks about that role…which I now play by myself.

  28. Howard: I assume the 0.3% growth rate you are referring is the annual increase in the number of converts+children of record. The annual increase in church membership was 2.36% for the period from 2011 to 2012. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be concerned as a church but I’m not sure we’re going to hit negative growth in terms of annual increases in church membership in the near future.

    Personally I think the influx of women into the missionary force is going to revolutionize the church and perhaps the first indication of this will be reflected in an increase in convert baptisms.

  29. Capozaino says:

    Isn’t it amazing how a few small changes in word choice and maybe a couple of changes to examples can take a good message take and turn it into a great one?

    FYI Publius, that’s why people (at least around these parts and probably most parts) don’t engage in as much nitpicking of Pres. Uchtdorf’s messages. Word selection.

  30. Eric,
    Now that you point it out I do see a bump in converts and a slight drop in new children for 2012 but comparing new children + converts between 2011 and 2013 suggests negligible growth.

  31. The definition of virtue bothers me quite a bit. The ancient root of the word is actually male in origin, so the focus on it being a female quality is wrong to begin with.

    Additionally, I always think back to the time when the “woman with issue of blood” touched the hem of Jesus’ robes and he felt the virtue go out of him. In that sense it refers to godly power and goodness. That is how I prefer to think about virtue. And we all have that.

  32. Capozaino:

    Let’s look at hawkgrrrl’s word choice: “If you’re not being nitpicked, you’re not making a difference.” Notice that she didn’t say “If you’re not being nitpicked, it’s because you chose your words carefully.”

  33. I would say about the nitpicking: If you are in a position to have your words taken seriously (in this case, as the leader of a world wide women’s organization that claims to be part of God’s one and only church), then you should expect people to do just that – take every word seriously. That’s all this post seems to be doing.

  34. Just how does “nitpicking” differ from making someone “an offender for a word”? Or is that, as the lawyers say, a distinction without a difference?

  35. Meta-nitpicking! My favorite form! (is this comment now meta-meta-nitpicking?)

  36. I strive for virtus because of John Hall.

  37. “Is spiritually mindful housekeeping the take away message you would choose for your daughter’s career guidance?”

    No, so I’m glad it wasn’t the take away message of this talk – but it might be at least the initial career guidance I would give to some members of the Church in some places, depending on their personal circumstances. If you can’t understand and accept that, there is nowhere to go with this conversation.

  38. marginalizedmormon says:

    Do women really talk this way in the real world? I mean, the really soft voice; is this a Mormon corridor phenomenon? I suppose she can’t help her voice, but out in the real world I didn’t hear voices like this, but at conference, usually, I do. Sister Okazaki didn’t have that kind of voice; her voice was pleasant and feminine, but it wasn’t girlish. Are women raised to speak this way, or is there no choice? Do some women just get little girl voices and other women get grown up lady voices?

    I don’t know, and it’s a silly thing, but if a woman has to speak that way to be considered a good LDS woman, then . . .

  39. I love this post and some of the comments that have been shared. I grew up LDS, but the misguided, yet powerful, language conditioning never occurred to me to be as such until I reached my forties.

    How thankful I am for this blog and for a God who has shown me that there’s so much more than the Mormon box I had previously found comfort in.

  40. marginalizedmormon, I’ve been involved in education nearly my entire adult life, and I hear that voice all the time outside the Church – especially among women who work with children on a regular basis but even from some who don’t.

    Fwiw, I think we come to expect it and, therefore, hear it sometimes even when it really isn’t there – when we wouldn’t call it a “Primary Voice” if we heard it outside a church setting.

  41. Chris Kimball says:

    I cannot understand the “nitpicking” criticism as other than “I don’t agree”. Talks at General Conference are not like at Sacrament Meeting. GC talks are broadcast, translated, and published in numerous forms both electronic and print. The speakers know all that as they prepare. We are encouraged to read and study and discuss. It couldn’t be any clearer that a close critical read is appropriate. Whether you like or agree with the talk or the analysis, the exercise of critical reading is 100% legitimate.
    Oh — thanks for the OP. For me personally the style doesn’t quite jibe with my (some would say stunted) sense of humor, but the substance helps me understand Sister Dalton better and “hear” the talk again. Some parts leave me with a puzzle — was that carefully thought through and intended? (that would be troubling) or was that a casual phrasing the implications of which were not all considered or intended? (that would also be troubling in context) or is there a third option?

  42. Thanks for the picture of John Lovitz “Acting!”. This is so true. I’ll bet her daily contributions are not the mundane, diminished, difficult or demeaning tasks fo life.

    Quite the contrary. You see, she . . .

    *travels around the world as a respected delegate
    *works in a multi-billion-dollar coporation (the chuch)
    *speaks to millions at a time
    *represents the church at world-wide family, humanitarian, and womens’ summits
    *meets with global politicians and royalty
    *writes and publishes books
    *has speaking engagements

    . . . and does all of this in a corporate suit and pantyhose.

    I’m even willing to bet that someone who lives that type of life and whose husband (for some reason) has church construction contracts, probably has a housekeeper to do the vacuuming in her home. Just a guess.

  43. Antonio Parr says:

    My problem with the OP is that it doesn’t appear to want to give Sister Dalton the benefit of the doubt about anything. Heaven knows how difficult it is to give talks in Church, with anxiety in the preparation and second-guessing in the aftermath. At some point, forgiveness and love should kick in when considering General Conference addresses, rather than a game of “gotcha.”

  44. Mossbloom says:

    I just think that with the staggering statistics about sexual abuse among young people, Sister Dalton, as a leader, especially as a spiritual leader, has no excuse. She should understand how intensely her words can affect the thousands of abuse victims who were under her stewardship. She had 10 years to study the issues facing young women and it is incredibly frustrating to me that she used rape to define virtue this one last time.

  45. Saw Christine Legarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund on CBS This Morning Show w/ Charlie Rose this a.m. So many other women, esp. on PBS News Hour evenings – research doctors, leaders of multinational corporations, government ministers, writers. What kind of awful bubble does Sis. Dalton live in that she can’t imagine LDS women in these roles? It is really incredible that a spokesperson for a world church have gender attitude this pinched, small and anachronistic. Discouraging, too. Very discouraging.

  46. Chris Kimball (1:11pm),

    I cannot understand the “nitpicking” criticism as other than “I don’t agree”. Talks at General Conference are not like at Sacrament Meeting. GC talks are broadcast, translated, and published in numerous forms both electronic and print. The speakers know all that as they prepare. We are encouraged to read and study and discuss. It couldn’t be any clearer that a close critical read is appropriate. Whether you like or agree with the talk or the analysis, the exercise of critical reading is 100% legitimate.

    Bingo–though “encouraged” and “appropriate” are really understating it. We are repeatedly commanded/exhorted/whatever’d to study and pour over the scriptures and words of the church leadership; we are assigned these talks as lesson material in our priesthood and relief society meetings; we are given these talks as the bases for talks in sacrament meetings; we are told to relay these messages to the people we visit or home teach; we are told to use them for family home evenings.

    These talks are not given without extensive preparation and thought, with full knowledge of how they will be used. If someone says something that simply makes no sense, it is not a Latter-day Saint’s duty to pretend that it does make sense and then regurgitate nonsense in our homes and meetings, nor is it a Latter-day Saint’s duty to sit quietly while another person regurgitates harmful or nonsensical quotes.

    You can argue that, when a reader (such as hawkgrrrl) finds something in a talk to be dubious or harmful or simply incoherent, then she is welcome to omit it from her lessons and talks, but she shouldn’t publicly hang those bits and pieces (or the speaker) out to dry. I am somewhat sympathetic to that line of reasoning, and it’s a conversation that we’ve had many many times here at BCC in one form or another. Maybe we need to have it again. I don’t know.

  47. I’m glad for the nitpicking- I welcome it! Because without it, we won’t change the overall culture in the church that some find so hurtful and damaging. And yes, I promise women are hurt by the idea that “virtue/chastity” are the same as virginity, or that the “most important thing a girl has to offer is her virtue”. It’s not.
    If we don’t “nitpick”, then we won’t be moving the church forward. And yes, I know revelation/God is supposed to be moving the church forward, but God generally doesn’t push us forward until we’ve shown we’re ready, and church history shows that church culture often takes time and agitation before it becomes closer to God’s ideal.
    Nit-pick away, but do so kindly and with empathy. Sister Dalton was not malicious. She is the product of mormon culture, of mindsets that have prevailed for over a century. Pointing out that the dialog needs to change is not a personal attack on her.

  48. I am not Antonio Parr, despite our shared initials, but I wholeheartedly endorse his remarks half a dozen comments up. We need to listen to understand, not to pounce on some word or phrase that lets us trumpet some favorite ideological position and pretend that we’re doing it for the noble purpose of purifying the culture. What I think and feel when I listen to these speakers is lightyears away from what I think and feel when I read these criticisms. I know which one I want more of, and which I turn my back on.

  49. Ardis,

    That is one of the single biggest identifiable changes I can say the bloggernacle had on me after years of participation. I went from listening to GC as a means of spiritual recharging to listening almost for curiosity’s sake in order to see HOW people would say things (as opposed to what the purpose or intent behind the words was). I found this change regrettable, and have since tried to change my approach.

    I stand by what I said above–we are so thoroughly and repeatedly admonished to read and study their words, that it is not fair to cry foul when such reading and studying uncovers unintended inconsistencies or even harm. However, the responsibility of sharing that information in a way that doesn’t ultimately just add to the problem is very difficult (for me) to define or feel comfortable with.

  50. “favorite ideological position”?

    It’s a lot deeper than that, Ardis. You trivialize these very valid critiques. Wonder why so many educated young women leave the church? Look no further than Sis. Dalton. And “purifying the culture” is not a bad objective. We should all be doing that in large ways and small.

  51. Chris Kimball says:

    Ardis, Antonio: I don’t think you would go so far as “listen but don’t speak” or “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”? Although it is certainly my experience that asking a question, any question, will be seen by some as negative . . . detracting from the Spirit . . . critical . . . tearing down.
    I find the OP quite positive and a good example of “listening to understand”. See “simple oversight”, “assume that was the intention”, “a very human response”, “works in ways not intended”. In other words, a very charitable critical read.

  52. Sometimes, I think that when we’re touchy, we read too much into things. For me personally, what I don’t like about the “Mormon Feminist” movement is the fact that there’s always a negative spin on the fact that in some cases, yes, some things actually ARE gender specific, and that we infantilize and criticize some women’s choice to be “Molly Mormon,” and assume that she lives in this bubble of naivety and that somehow she didn’t have a choice in the matter psychologically. I don’t like how polarizing the movement is.
    As a high school English teacher, I completely understand what Sis. Dalton was saying about virtue, because, lest we forget, she was the YW general President, and I think overall, she was speaking in generalities because her audience was YW.
    Her point was that we live in a world where some aspects of girlhood and young womanhood are being degraded, and that it’s “cool” or “fashionable” or “in” to have a nasty attitude, to be a bad friend, to not care for others, to dress inappropriately with all yo’ stuff hangin’ out, that having children out of wedlock is a game, that having babies are akin to having a purse that you can wear for a while and then shelf when done, and to compromise who you are and whose you are. I see girls everyday trying to follow what they see on TV and in the movies; they call each other “B” and “S” and “W” casually, as if it’s a term of endearment, young girls are abandoning their virtue (and in this case, I think she meant centering truths, worth, and purity) to fit in with the world’s standards. I see girls with babies they have no idea what to do with and no daddies to help, pregnant girls who are scared as H because they have NO idea what they’re in for…everyday, I see some of these girls sacrificing so much so young because they’ve bought the lie that virtue, along with chivalry, apparently, is dead. I think Sis. Dalton was trying to let YW know that what they know and believe is precious, not to be cast aside casually.
    I think it’s a bit unfair to assume that she was equating sexual and physical abuse to a loss of virtue, as if that was a direct consequence. I don’t think that’s what she was saying at all when she mentioned the scripture. I think what she was saying, far as virtue is concerned, is that virtue is strongly tied with an awareness of self worth, and when that is compromised willingly, it leads down a path that could be negative and destructive.
    I think Sis. Dalton’s talk was uplifting and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with equating womanhood to nurturing, caring for others, etc…because that’s what we do.
    I’m all for equality, but, I’m also for fairness and right. I don’t think it’s right to only see one side of the coin, and this is both on the Church’s part, and the “Mormon Feminist” part.
    I do believe that there’s room to tell our young women now that yes, it’s important to educate yourself, learn how to be self-reliant, and have a strong, passionate relationship with Heavenly Father, but at the same time, the narrative from the Church shouldn’t be that you can’t have both, that you’re somehow “wrong” for having doubts about having a family, or that if you do, your options are limited. On the other hand, the narrative from Mormon feminists, or any feminists for that matter, shouldn’t be that if you happen to fall into the traditional roles of wife and mother and nurturer and choose not to have a career, that you’re somehow delivering a huge blow to the cause of womanhood. Instead, because part of the feminist movement originally was about choice as well, we should accept the choices of our sisters who follow what they feel is right for them and not judge them for it, or again, infantilize them or make them seem somehow “less than,” and make them seem less intelligent in comparison to the woman that works and mothers; looking down on them as if they have little to offer in the way of breaking “gender stereotypes.” We can’t make them feel wrong for clinging to the parts of womanhood that are important to them. Like I said before, there are some things that are unique to women, and I think that perceiving these parts of ourselves as falling into and affirming stereotypes is what’s driving the narrative of the Mormon Feminist movement right now, and it’s frustrating, to say the least.
    I feel that the tone of this post overall was judgmental, and that a negative perception of some of the more traditional, yet unique aspects of our gender drove the conversation on this one.
    *Sorry for the long post. I’m a teacher, I can’t help it. I have to explain EVERYTHING:)

  53. ” there are some things that are unique to women”

    Outside of the admittedly very important ability to bear children, name one.

    I’ll go you one better. We are meant to develop ‘divine qualities.’ I especially hear women recommended to this on a regular basis. Of those divine qualities that you, as a woman, are meant to develop, which one is Christ not an exemplar of?

  54. Meldrum the Less says:

    Context, ladies and gentlemen. Is this the first time Sister Dalton has spoken ? Or the last?

    My memory is dim but it seems to me she did a pretty good job this time, in comparison to the bang-up job at times before. One of her previous talks was the proverbial “last straw” for one woman in my extended family. Didn’t resign (yet) but her heart and soul are no longer with us.
    Nitpicking, it works, slowly. Sister Dalton’s talks over the years are a good example of it.

    Oh Ardis, thank you for the insight. I feel so much more comfortable listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival than GC. Since I had to work and missed GC perhaps I will follow your lead, Ardis. Stay with what makes me feel good.

  55. Chris Kimball: Do not put words in my mouth. Thank you.

  56. Meldrum: Get lost.

  57. “What kind of awful bubble does Sis. Dalton live in that she can’t imagine LDS women in these roles?”

    pd, nothing – absolutely nothing – in her talk implied that she can’t imagine LDS women in those roles.

  58. My problem with the OP is that it doesn’t appear to want to give Sister Dalton the benefit of the doubt about anything.

    Its tiring enough listening to politicians bob and weave on policy and principle. When I tune in to hear the leaders of my church speak to our world wide community, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt – by assuming that they’re intelligent and thoughtful people, who consider their words carefully and mean what they say.

  59. It would be interesting to hear hawkgirl rip into one of the brethren like this, but women tend save their sharpest knives for other women.

  60. I’m a single, never-married man from a traditional gender role home that has recently stumbled upon the gender-equality-in-the-Church scene.

    While I can definitely see how women could feel very marginalized by the patriarchy of the Church and while I am even supportive to ideas as “extreme” as ordaining women to the priesthood, I am already tired of reading the nitpicking by Mormon feminists of every little word that didn’t go THEIR way in conference.

    After reading several blogs and even more comments, I just don’t see what these women really want. Can a mother no longer be described as a nurturer? If we refer to a story in which a woman does a task that it implied to be a “woman’s work,” is that inherently sexist? I don’t think so. Do I think we can have more examples of strong and exemplary women who live their lives in different ways? Yes!

    To assume the leaders of the Church will all of sudden talk about women who only do things that are UN-stereotypical of a woman demeans women who like to do things that ARE stereotypical of a woman. Both have immense value! Both are beautiful.

    I’d love to hear a thoughtful reply on what forward-thinking women are actually wanting…

  61. I once heard someone say, “In the face of any kind of inconclusive uncertainty, love gives the benefit of the doubt.” And I think that’s what I have to do with Sister Dalton. I do wish she and other leaders talked more about other roles that women can have – particularly as choices rather than as the only option when death or divorce or disaster occur. But I suspect that kind of shift in thinking will just take time. I believe the church is moving forward, but it’s a big machine and naturally moves more slowly than we as individuals often do.

  62. -Thomas Parkin
    Perhaps “there are some things that are unique to women” was poorly worded, and I’m not saying that these qualities aren’t being exemplified in the Savior, nor am I limiting my point to them. What I meant was that there are patterns of thought and behavior unique to womanhood that you don’t often see in manhood (and I’m drawing from my own personal experience as a woman and what I observed growing up in my own family).
    How often do you hear about young men or husbands questioning or struggling with the idea of having a family? How often do you hear a young man or husband say that they don’t want to have children because they want a career because they feel that somehow having both is a disservice? In my experience, almost never. It’s not a question about whether or not they can have both. It is socially acceptable that he works and raises a family. He’s a great father, great at his job. No one, not even he, gives it a second thought.
    Now, if you’re in an audience of young women and wives, the conversation is completely different. For a lot of women, it’s a struggle, a mental battle. She loves her job, yet she wants to be a mother. For her, the answer isn’t so clear cut because she wants to be there for her child, she wants to be there for every moment, and create and continue that bond, and she feels that she is somehow taking something away, or missing something from the whole experience if she works and mothers. She’s a great mother, great at her job. Yet, the struggle looms over her head.
    Another pattern of thought and behavior that you see in womanhood is the idea of “me last.” I grew up around women who almost never did anything for themselves personally, whether it be buying new shoes to replace the old, raggedy ones, to buying a tube of lipstick, because she always gave herself to other people. She gave herself physically and emotionally to support her family in whatever way they needed support, often neglecting her own needs in favor of others.
    Another pattern of thought and behavior in womanhood is (and this is really from my personal experience) the willingness to accept and adapt. When I first told my dad that I wanted to join the Church, he was livid. When I was younger, my dad and I were very close, and he’d never done anything to hurt me. That is, until I decided to join the Church. He just refused to accept that I wanted to be in the Church, and his stubbornness, and unwillingness to listen almost cost us our relationship. It was my mother’s acceptance that got me though. She may not agree with my beliefs, but she accepts them. She’s adapted to the fact that I am the only member in our family. My dad is so black and white, so hardline, and I found that actually, as I began to become more open about my membership in the Church, it’s been the women in my life who have accepted my choice and have come to admire me for it. The men in my life, except for my grandfather, have insinuated that I’m somehow less intelligent for joining the Church, that I’m wrong, or misled. Another example is in the film, “Hope Springs,” starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Meryl Streep’s character played a wife and homemaker who wanted to rekindle her quickly dying marriage. Jones’ character played her husband, who everyday did the same thing. It was painful watching them both living separately emotionally and physically in the same house. When Streep’s character signed up for an intensive couple’s therapy, Jones’ character initially wonders what the heck is wrong with her, and denies the fact that yes, things have changed in their marriage, and not for the better. Throughout the film, it’s a constant struggle for Streep’s character to get through to him about adapting to this new phase of their marriage and accepting the fact that things have to change or else they’re over. His stubbornness nearly costs them their otherwise beautiful marriage. Eventually, he comes around, but only when faced with Streep’s character leaving him. He had it good, and he nearly threw it away because of his lack of patience and insensitivity. *It’s a great film, highly recommend it, and I’m 25 and single. I’ve seen that kind of stuff play out in my own family both immediate, and extended.
    I’m a teacher, and the differences couldn’t be more clear than amongst teenaged girls and boys. Sensitivity, for example. The girls are a little more careful about what they say because they are wary of hurting feelings. The boys? Can you say NO brain-mouth filter? They just let their words, along with their burps, right on out without a second thought. To be a bit more crude, another thing that’s unique to women: you don’t see us scratching our crotches in public. Just sayin’. My boys will do it right in front of me! It’s disgusting and I make sure to use hand sanitizer after taking up their papers! Grown men will do it in public! Women sure as H don’t do that. I’d say that’s pretty darn unique. I should have used this for my first example.
    If I sound biased, I apologize, and I’m not trying to speak for every woman, or every man, or every relationship, but it’s kind of hard to deny unique patterns of thought and behavior between the sexes. I mean, the years of psychological studies have proven clear differences in patterns of thought and behavior between men and women. Even when you’re around your male friends or associates, the conversation eventually (jokingly), comes around to, “Well, happy wife, happy life.” Why do we have such sayings if we didn’t realize that men and women have patterns of thought and behavior unique to their sex in some way, shape, or form?
    I was just saying that I don’t agree with polarization, the idea that you can’t be “both,” or sending the message that “you have a choice, as long as it’s the right one.” I don’t agree with the implication that acknowledging that some aspects of womanhood are, indeed, uniquely woman, as some aspects of manhood are uniquely man. I don’t think that it’s a negative thing and that it’s putting women into a “box.” I just like to look at both sides of the coin.
    Again, sorry for the long post. I really can’t help it.

  63. Naismith says:

    Hmm, this reminds me a lot of the controversy over the New York Times obituary of Yvonne Brill. A lot of my Facebook friends hoped that they WOULD be remembered for their best dish or as a great parent, rather than the way they spent their workweek. And some of these folks are very accomplished in their fields.

    As a practical matter, I don’t think the church particularly needs to tell young women that they can do or be anything. They already know that. Church is only a small part of their day (at least for the majority of LDS outside the Mormon corridor). Our ward young women were incredibly supportive of each other in their various pursuits. When my daughter had a band concert on a YW night, the entire group attended and signed a program for her, each saying how much they enjoyed it. Other times they would all go to see someone play volleyball or whatever. The YW leaders ranged from single mothers to PhD students, so they had lots of role models.

    But where I live there is very little focus on parenting. The church’s support seems appropriate.

    And can I say how much I resent the notion of “cookie cutter roles.” My relatives who chose to have dad at home fulltime went through the same thoughtful process that our family did in having mom at home while our kids were little. But he gets to be considered a forward-thinking progressive, while I am a 50’s cookie cutter? And the reality is that NONE of us do the job the same way. We all do what is best for our families, and our families are all different, with different needs and priorities.

  64. -Blake
    I completely understand your confusion. I don’t like marginalization on the Church’s part, nor the “Mormon Feminist” movement’s part. To expect someone to think or act in the way that’s acceptable to you is unfair, and in the case of the Mormon Feminist movement, I think that polarizing women who make conscious, deliberate choices that happen to disagree with your worldview is unfair.
    Is Sis. Dalton’s view a little dated? Sure, in some respects, but like you mentioned, what is wrong with womanhood being associated with “nurturing”? What is wrong with embracing our differences, and embracing the fact that yes, we are different in many ways psychologically and even spiritually?
    I mean, short of androgyny, what is the objective here? I got you, man. I got you;)
    If you’re looking for even more confusion, I highly recommend Orlando by Virginia Woolf.

  65. Well said, Naismith! It’s all about choice, and what’s best for ourselves and our families! And, you know what? If people want to be “cookie cutter” that’s their business too. People have the right to make choices because ultimately, they’ve got to live with them, good or bad, feminist, or Dalton.

  66. @Domi

    Thanks for the reply. I honestly do understand that as a man, I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, so I want to be as sensitive to this issue as I can.

    Sometimes I think we all expect the Church to raise the kids right. Secularism/Atheism seems to want the State to have more of a role. But at the end of the day, the family has the most control.

    That said, I want to teach my daughters, when I have them, to shoot for their wildest dreams, just as I’ll teach my sons. If my daughter wants to be a killer engineer…great! If she wants to be a stay-at-home mom. Great! I’m not crazily worried if the Church is slow to respond (though I hope they do), because I hope to clear up anything I’m not cool with the Church doing.

    But if I teach my daughter how to play sports, how to be incredible at math, and ALSO how to cook and take care of a child, and then later she recounts how she grew up loving to cook, does that imply she was raised in a sexist environment? Not at all.

    (Also, I’ll try to read that book!)

  67. It’s not exactly a beach read, but it’s an amazing novel, one of her best. Then, once you’re done, watch the film. Tilda Swinton was BORN to play Orlando.

  68. *@Blake

  69. Domi: “I mean, short of androgyny, what is the objective here?” Radical feminists do believe in gender elimination, but most feminists just want to remove limits, have choice and protect rights. There aren’t many people in this day and age (at least not in the US), Sister Dalton included, who don’t believe in equal rights. There’s also no “one” feminist viewpoint.

    rk: you obviously missed my write-up of E. Bednar’s talk earlier this week.

    I agree with Mandy’s perspective that we should assume positive intent. I definitely do believe that every talk is intended to edify. I applaud the fact that Sister Dalton shared personal experiences freely and tied those to how others may feel. Our leaders are doing the best they can, just like all of us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss the issues. We all own our church experience.

    Ultimately, I agree with Chris Kimball in how I listen to talks at Gen Conf. I do listen first and foremost for anything that resonates as something for my own benefit. But I also try to understand if what was said was intentional or accidental. Because it really does make a difference in the message. Should we take something said accidentally as equally binding as what was said intentionally? I believe this is very common. And truth be told, it’s often very hard to tell.

  70. Hi Domi,

    After reading both of your posts, here’s an attempted distillation:

    1. Neither the church nor feminists should suggest that women can’t fill both traditional and progressive roles, even simultaneously. Neither should be seen as disparaging.

    2. Nothing wrong with “equating womanhood to nurturing, caring for others, etc…because that’s what we do.”

    3. “There are patterns of thought and behavior unique to womanhood that you don’t often see in manhood” – “some aspects of womanhood are, indeed, uniquely woman, as some aspects of manhood are uniquely man”.

    4. For example, women are selfless and giving, accepting and adaptive, and care about the feelings of others. Men are inflexible, prone to belittling, insensitive, and impatient. Also disgusting.

    5. “If I sound biased, I apologize”

    As a man, can I just say – Ouch! We suck. And not the good vacuuming way. Sounds like the entire focus should shift to “Ladies, just keep on keepin’ on. Guys, the other half of the population is your example. Try to get it right every once in awhile.”

    I guess my questions are: Do you feel that GC addresses do enough to make your first point, or do they overemphasize the traditional roles relative to the progressive? How should a wife react if she struggles to recognize nurturing acumen in herself, but finds it in abundance in her husband? What is she likely to take from Sister Dalton’s message? And finally, do we men get to accept and celebrate those uniquely male characteristics you have identified, or are we supposed to try be “less male”?

  71. So, perhaps we can all just live and let live and pay no attention to the examples given. We’ll treat vacuuming as we would skeet shooting. Terrific.

    Here’s my problem. We’ve seen a repeated pattern of entrenched consevativism which strikes a sociopolitical nerve in a significant number of women. From ‘mothers who know’ to ‘women don’t need to advocate’ to ‘vacuuming’ we keep hearing this lifestyle aesthetic glorified despite the fact that so many women have been saying for years that it s a stumbling block and dissonance to hearing the more important messages of the gospel. Is asserting ones virtue through vacuuming really worth pushing someone else away when there are probably less offensive examples to draw from? Seriously. Isn’t the message of the restored gospel worth more than vacuuming stories? Good heavens. I hold Sister Dalton and the GAs more responsible than the masses they are supposed to be serving.

  72. Peter LLC says:

    We need to listen to understand, not to pounce on some word or phrase…

    Good advice, I suppose, though what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, even the least of the BCC commentariat.

  73. Mossbloom says:

    Domi, I think you need to get to know more Mormon Feminists. Quite a few of them are SAHMs, doing the “traditional roles” of women and those who aren’t are very supportive of that. I am a SAHM and have never once been pressured by a fellow feminist to drop that life and get into the workforce. I don’t deny that has been a part of feminism, but for the most part, Mormon feminists understand the deep importance of motherhood and wifehood. They just think there is much more to women than those roles. It’s great that you are a teacher and want to help others understand but maybe you should learn a little more about what you are talking about before you try to school the rest of us.

  74. Antonio Parr says:

    We are an “all volunteer” church, with the remarkable distinction that our volunteer work must be precipitated by an invitation (“call”) before we can even begin to serve in any formal capacity. Sister Dalton was asked to serve in a highly visible capacity, undoubtedly a daunting task.

    For any of this to work, we need to be supportive of each other in a way that is genuinely Christ-like. Perhaps this need for compassion is most important towards those who serve/lead at the highest levels, where they are forced to reveal themselves in ways and angles that inevitably reveal their greatest flaws. Of course, we are all similarly flawed, but our weaknesses are less likely to be manifested down in the trenches.

    Sister Dalton is my sister and your sister, and, like all if us in her callings, has undoubtedly sought to do her very best. During her final talk as a General Authority, she shared her pain as a young person at the death of her father, and her feelings over the recent passing of her mother. I found both accounts moving and memorable. It is unfortunate that critics of Sister Dalton seem so hesitant to acknowledge the wisdom and humanity of this portion of her talk . . .

    General Conference is not a political convention conducive to partisan pundits waiting in the wings to rip apart the best efforts of fellow servants to share their faith. I don’t always agree with every word that I hear in General Conference, but I feel duty bound to try to respond to every speaker with tenderness and Christ-like love, unfeigned.

  75. -Mossbloom
    I wasn’t trying to school anyone, and you’re probably right, I need to look more into the movement as it grows, but in the case of this post, I was merely commenting on the tone. I understand what feminism is, and I understand the message of the idea. I know that Mormon Feminists understand the importance of motherhood and wifehood. I never said that they didn’t.
    I absolutely think that there’s more to women than just being a wife and a mother, I’m a woman myself. I’m on board with that 100%. I absolutely agree that the Church does profess ideals from an era long past, and recognize that when it comes to “roles,” they do need to change the narrative. I agree with that.
    What I was commenting on in this post was the tone of the criticism of Sis. Dalton’s talk, and how polarized the debate about shifting views of the Church has become. However, I have to agree with Blake when he mentioned that as members, as parents, it is up to us to raise our children, and it’s up to us to put things into perspective and into context for our younger members. I think that we should give members, especially female members and our YW a little more credit. I’m not saying dismissing anything, but, again, just putting it into perspective.
    I was saying that the tone of the criticism sounded judgmental to me personally, and I think that much of what Sis. Dalton said was taken out of context.
    -Aaron
    I wasn’t trying to speak for all men or women. I was drawing from my own personal experiences and observations growing up. My mom has a degree in psychology as well, and we talk about this all the time because all she does is study behavior.
    And no, men, you do not suck. I’m sorry if my tone came across that way. Men are great! Seriously. My dad is awesome, my grandfather is awesome. My uncles are awesome…and crazy. They’d do anything for me.
    I was saying that there are different patterns of thinking, processing, and behavior that men and women have. I wasn’t trying to say “men are bad.”
    We love you, men!
    I didn’t say all that to say that men are incapable of being sensitive, or polite, nor did I say all that to say that women are incapable of being mean spirited, uncaring, or disingenuous. I wasn’t trying to paint a picture of perfection for women. There are some crazy men out there, and there are some crazy women out there.
    And to answer your last question about GC talks, I listen, and put them into context for my life right now. For example, I’m single, so I understand Dalton’s line of “act well, thy part” differently. I didn’t take that as her meaning only acting the part of wife and mother. That is where I disagree with the post.
    I don’t look for our leaders to shape my views, pay credence to them, or even agree with them in some cases. I don’t filter the information in that way.
    Yeah, Sis. Dalton’s views may be outdated, but overall, I don’t think there was anything inherently bad or subliminal about what she said. I don’t like the implication that she was generally discouraging to YW and women.

  76. We need to be more than well intended when we fill leadership roles, we need to be aware of the biases we bring to those roles and offer a message that works for a broad audience. The church is more than a an exclusive club for men with families, who would Jesus exclude?

  77. This is way too harsh. She taught an eternal truth that plainly points to the most sublime truth in existence. Our Father is an exalted being. He wants us to be exalted and that can only happen through marriage. Think about the implications of that as it relates to your eternal potential.

    After hearing that line I was happy to call this one of the best talks. Getting upset about discussions of. Roles as it relates to serving down here below is simply foolishness. Try to complain to the Savior about your misperceptions of your role (which overexagerate any “bad”) while actually contemplating his role. Ya you got a raw deal alright. And the (few) men who wear out their lives in service to their God and fellow man and woman are just an unfair patriarchy.

    This talk was opened by the revealing our divine potential, you freely quoted it and didn’t ask us to stand in awe but rather snipe at what was unsaid. You may intellectually grasp these things but I suggest you don’t have a revealed testimony of them. That is the problem with this talk – the listener who doesn’t understand.

  78. Where was the body of critical thought within the church during Joseph Smith & Brigham Young’s time? I wonder what the church would look like today if there had been enough flack from their buffoonery to cause a course change instead of praise and canonization.

  79. Meldrum the Less says:

    jeffc:

    I think the body of critical thought was within the early church leadership themselves. They experienced quite a bit of conflict if you think about it. Joseph and Oliver, Brigham and Orson. Many others. The recent correlation movement white-washed this history at the wardhouse level to imply something closer to perfect unity during the early days in order to facilitate rapid conversion and growth. It worked, mostly.

    Ardis ,

    You flatter me yet again. To “get lost” implies that I am not lost in the first place. In this you are mistaken. Might I recommend for your consideration what the Prophet Daniels, eh, Charlie Daniels said about those elected government officials who want to ban Chick-Fil-A (not just boycott) because of the political statements of their owner against gay rights?

    What these government officials are saying is, if you don’t agree with us, we don’t want you in our town, we don’t want you in our country, we don’t want you in our system… and THAT is downright un-American of them.

    Is this your message to me? Because if I understand it correctly, Sister Parshall, you might already be a bit lost, at least in this small matter.

    To demonstrate that I still care about you, as a peace offering in hopes of putting a smile back on your face, I present to you a really good idea for your next research project. Compare the teachings of Charlie Daniels with those of Brigham Young. You have to admit to a startling physical resemblance and the similarities do not stop there. Ardis, if you are not at least snickering a little bit right now, perhaps you just might have an irony deficiency.

  80. Wow. I never would have dreamed my comment about nitpicking would have generated so much reaction. I did not go back and listen to Sister Dalton’s talk, but did cut and paste the following from the church’s website:

    “So how do a mother and a father instill in their daughter the ennobling and eternal truth that she is a daughter of God? How do we help her step out of the world and step into the kingdom of God? In a morally desensitizing world, young women need women and men to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” Never before has this been more important than now. Young women need mothers and mentors who exemplify virtuous womanhood. Mothers, your relationship with your daughter is of paramount importance, and so is your example. How you love and honor her father, his priesthood, and his divine role will be reflected and perhaps amplified in your daughter’s attitudes and behavior.

    What is that part we must all “act well”? The family proclamation is clear: “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. …“We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”6

    In the decadent society of Mormon’s time, he lamented that the women were robbed of that which was most dear and precious above all—their virtue and chastity.7

    Again I renew the call for a return to virtue. Virtue is the strength and power of daughters of God. What would the world be like if virtue—a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards, including chastity8—were reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value? If immorality, pornography, and abuse decreased, would there be fewer broken marriages, broken lives, and broken hearts? Would media ennoble and enable rather than objectify and degrade God’s precious daughters? If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,” how would women be regarded and treated?”

    So, Sister Dalton’s has a one line paraphrasing of Moroni 9:9. That’s it. That’s all. It’s not even an accurate paraphrasing as “robbed” is not the same as “deprived.” Still, is there really anyone who doesn’t consider the phrase “virtue and chastitiy” in this instance to simply mean “virginity?” Can you construe it otherwise? Sure. If you want to. But she goes on to clearly say what she considers “virtue” to be, and it’s quite obvious it’s not something that can be “taken” away. Could she have phrased things differently? Sure. Is the paraphrasing of one scripture worth a whole OP over at fMh and here? No.

    Now, back to my vacuuming.

  81. Thanks everyone for your contributions. We’re closing this thread but I’m sure these topics will come up again soon.

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