Where I Come From There Are Penalties When A Woman Speaks

"May I live a thousand years and never mention my alma-mater again!"

You ever wonder how angry, unselfconscious misogynists react to intelligent, outspoken women?

Here’s the knuckle-dragging, assistant-to-the-regional-manager version.

And here (and here, and here, and here, and here…) is the Harvard-degrees, I-would-not-say-such-things-if-I-were-you! Version.

Now, I should give some credit here. Not all bullies are willing to try to pick on someone substantially bigger and more popular than they are. My own experience with the sort of men who engage in the kinds of behaviors under consideration here is that macho overconfidence on the surface masks deeper insecurities. I’m not sure what the specific sources of inadequacy might be in this case, but as someone who is almost constantly aware of my own intellectual and rhetorical shortfallings by comparison to these women, I can certainly sympathize. But having said that I should also make clear that there’s still nothing remotely heroic or courageous or manly about this behavior. I’m not going to substantively defend either Kristine or Joanna against these small-minded attacks, for two reasons:

1) they’re both far more capable of such a defense than I am.
2) bullies with schoolyard crushes don’t particularly deserve to have their taunts engaged on their merits.

Before concluding my little tirade, an admission: I acknowledge the irony of condemning chauvinistic, bullying behavior by writing a post in which I, well, bully the bullies. And you know what? I am 100% okay with that.

Finally, you definitely should not consider the fact that Joanna and Kristine have (wisely) elected not to directly engage your attacks as evidence that efforts to publicly excoriate and shame them are having the desired effect. Their unwillingness to throw rocks back is not a sign that you are winning.

It is a sign that these sisters are simply better men than you.


  1. seagullfountain says:

    I love this except the last line is a head scratcher. Maybe I am too obtuse for the joke.

  2. I don’t understand. By critiquing a book and the arguments in it, you are acting as a bully? I mean, its not as if Ms. Brooks didn’t know what she was doing when she published a book, didn’t know what she was doing when she made her choices about what to include in it. Would it not be more patronizing to say ‘oh, she’s just a woman, she doesn’t know any better,’ and ignore it?

    It sounds an awful lot like you are trying to shut down intellectual debate.

    Also, ‘Kristen Robinson Doe’ is an un-self-conscious misogynist?

  3. “By critiquing a book and the arguments in it, you are acting as a bully?”

    Nope. And if you think that’s all that’s going on here, you’re as much a part of the problem as Hancock is.

  4. That’s all I see. I’m not part of the ‘in crowd.’ So, explain it to me.

  5. Those links all piss me off too much to even think straight.

  6. I mean, is it your contention that if she were a man and said the same things,she would be treated differently?

  7. If a clever enemy of Mormonism—say clever enough to earn a grad degree at teh Harvard—decided to go trolling as an orthodox LDS scholar and write a critique of a prominent female LDS scholar in a way that made mormons look reactionary and misogynistic and obsessed (to a degree that flagrantly transgresses the bounds of professionalism) with publicly attacking and shaming uppity women while feigning paternalistic concern over their stereotypically female neuroses, how exactly would that critique read differently from Hancock’s Meridian piece?

  8. “I mean, is it your contention that if she were a man and said the same things,she would be treated differently?”

    By Hancock? Absolutely, without a question. Is it your contention that Hancock’s review of Joanna(‘s work) is pitched in a, um, gender-neutral manner?

  9. I should clarify that I think that youtube clip is just a bit silly (some people are just goobers).

    But I think that’s a little less true of the Joanna stuff.

  10. I think they’re two sides of the same coin. Hancock is very smart, and sounds like he’s very smart, but ultimately what he’s doing is a Harvard-man version of the youtube clip.

  11. Franklin R. says:

    TMD–we don’t even have to answer that hypothetically. Joanna’s male counterpart at Mormon Stories, who has been doing and saying the same sorts of things as Joanna has for several years, completely escapes Hancock’s scrutiny.

  12. .

    I just went and read the second half of the Meridian article and, as a whole, I found it thoughtful and nuanced and generous. Let’s not overstate the case against it, especially when other voices are genuinely uncharitable.

  13. And, to build on Franklin’s point, quite unlike Joanna, her male counterpart does actually seek to cultivate a following to his movement.

  14. Franklin R. says:

    thmazing, are you serious?

  15. Has her counterpart published an autobiography, as well?

  16. Franklin R. says:

    Yes, in multiple podcasts.

  17. No, but Hancock was web-stalking Joanna long before she published a memoir.

  18. well, I can’t speak to that. but, she is a public persona, one far more widely known than whoever it is at MS.

  19. She is more publicly known. And Hancock is making a vigorous effort at sending the message that proper Mormons don’t stand for her kind.

  20. thmazing, that’s truly amazing. That Meridian article and its predecessor is a condescending, paternalistic pile of garbage. It’s sickening.

  21. Franklin R. says:

    “far more widely known than whoever it is at MS”

    Yes, she is, precisely because she’s good at making Mormons seem engaging and appealing to outsiders. Which we should be glad about, rather than chastising her for not being quite the right kind of Mormon.

  22. wrt # 7, I’m not sure how one could go about shaming someone who has described everything mentioned in a published book. Simply saying I disagree, or, that might be an atypical experience, does not seem to me to be shaming. It’s not as if he’s dug up her secret journal or anything. But ultimately, who cares? It’s not like he’s going to do anything more than reflect upon himself. He’s certainly not going to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with him, any more than Joanna is going to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with her.

    More broadly, I find much of the concern with the public perception of the church to usually be wrong and, anyways, uninteresting. People who wish to inject the faddish politics of the day into it are almost always doing violence to it, be it on questions of immigration, the death penalty, abortion, or whatever else. At one point in its history, the church was the darling of feminists. Today, less so. The world’s wheel turns. I’m not convinced we should time our movement to its revolutions.

  23. Franklin R. says:

    “At one point in its history, the church was the darling of feminists.”

    That’s a pretty remarkable assertion. Care to elaborate?

  24. Jacob, is it materialistic garbage when ‘Kristen Robinson Doe’ does it?

  25. Are you honestly trying to make the case that women are incapable of expressing or promoting misogynist sentiment?

  26. Franklin, see Sarah Song, “Majority Norms, Multiculturalism, and Gender Equality,” American Political Science Review, 99:4 (2005), particularly pp. 484-485.

  27. Perhaps, perhaps not. But I’m always skeptical of arguments that people are self-hating, or which rely on ‘false consciousness.’ Also, I wanted to know Jacob’s views on maternalism.

  28. In fairness I though Kirsten Doe’s review was not in the category of the others linked here. And maybe RH had a slight twinge of guilt since his part 2 while still a homage to his transparent political agenda wasn’t seething with vitriol as was the first part. The vitriol was just bubbling under the surface.

  29. Also, I honestly did mess up one of the hyperlinks, so the Kirsten Doe stuff is a useless digression. Just pretend I got it right and linked to one of Hancock’s many, many other obsessive diatribes against Brooks.

  30. Ralph Hancock’s weird obsession with Joanna Brooks is as creepy as it is weakly-reasoned. He keeps posting about her on his blog, and the book “review” was amazingly ill-executed. Ralph: if you’re out there listening, you’re creeping everybody out. Time to back off.

  31. You don’t have to deploy the language of psychoanalytic marxism to acknowledge that disenfranchised or otherwise marginalized groups often internalize and even reproduce and reinforce discourses and ideologies that rationalize their disenfranchisement. If you honestly came see that dynamic at play in mormonism, then you’re probably not ready for peer reviewed social science journals.

  32. Peter LLC says:

    Ralph Hancock’s weird obsession

    He would probably prefer the term “mission”(1), but it smacks of reactionary ark-steadying to me.

    (1) e.g., “I think it is important to warn other Latter-day Saints who may be confused by her political agenda”
    “She thus proposes a beguiling vision of Mormonism as reconciled to a liberal secular culture, an increasingly prominent vision that readers of Meridian Magazine should be aware of.”

  33. Brad: And yet, I actually am published in peer reviewed social scientific journals.

  34. Shocking that what he finds threatening in Joanna he also finds beguiling…

  35. good ones, too.

  36. also, I’m not sure what you mean by “you honestly came see”

  37. If you don’t think women capable of generating and reproducing misogynist discourse, then you’re a bad social scientist, I don’t care where you’re published.

  38. Typo. Should read “if you honestly can’t see…”

  39. I didn’t say they can’t, I just said that I’m skeptical–its a way of privileged some accounts and de-legitimizing others. (Which, incidentally, is exactly what you’re doing here). Like most anthropologists, you seem to view everything through predetermined theory–and worse yet–predetermined politics. That’s not social science.

  40. Yawn.

  41. the yawn of defeat…

  42. cheers! off to mma practice!

  43. Yes, I’m feeling thoroughly defeated by your contributions here.

  44. TMD, didn’t you get the memo? When the Bradren has spoken the thinking has been done.

  45. StillConfused says:

    What I admire most about these two women is that they stay above the fray. They don’t engage.

  46. That TMD apparently confused this post for a legitimate attempt at serious social science doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when it comes to his credibility as a social scientific expert.

  47. #44 LOL!

    I did not read the articles, but I did watch that YouTube video. My Lord! I may have missed something, but hen did feminism become a bad thing? At its root, feminism is about choice. Should women not have choices the same way men do? Are there people who make it a crusade? Sure. But there are people who make anything a crusade (there is a religion based on Elian Gonzalez!). Men like YouTube video-man are merely angry with women for being women. He says at the end that he is not angry, but his actions, tone, facial movements all tell a different story. According to this neanderthal women should be in the kitchen making his sandwiches, not daring to discuss what the Brethren do or say.

  48. I lost track of Knuckle Dragger’s thought, if there was one, because I kept getting caught up in the sound. Something was familiar about it … but what? The speech rhythms, the pauses, the intonation, the outrage-emphasis … what’s so familiar? Then I caught it — it’s Rush Limbaugh. He has absorbed Rush Limbaugh and apes his mannerisms to a T.

    The only other time I’ve noticed such a complete mimicry was listening to a BYU professor at MHA one year, who was channeling Truman Madsen’s speech patterns, right down to the frequent little gaspy intakes of breath between his front teeth.

  49. Awesome, Ardis. And spot on.

  50. Wow. Even his head wagging and hand motions are ripped directly from Rush. Creepy.

  51. Oh, and Rush is much better at it all as well.

  52. That’s really uncanny. I could swear I’ve done battle with that Reid Baer guy on the Mormon Apologetics Discussion Board. … Oh wait, nevermind, that was on World of Warcraft. My bad.

  53. Ms. Renda says:

    Is it just me, or is that guy in the closet? My gaydar is going off. Btw, that’s a compliment in my book, but the closet part would explain his inner frustration level. Enough misdirected anger to post a youtube video on this. Very strange.

  54. 46. It must be nice to always have the Jon Stewart defense chambered.

  55. Nonsense, Justin. I am a social scientist and I’m more than willing to have the social science I do subjected to social scientific scrutiny. But this post doesn’t come anywhere near even a pretext at being serious social science. Try to make a canned critique of the original post’s inadequate differential calculus or its misuse of the laffer curve and you’ll get the same answer.

  56. Look, the tone in Hancock’s Meridian posts (as well as in his other writings on Brooks) is thoroughly condescending and misogynistic. Tone and rhetorical style matter. It’s not simply a matter of the content alone of his posts and whether he gets Joanna right or wrong or is defending an inaccurate or accurate view of the Church and the values it espouses, or whether an account is being privileged or delegitimized, etc. Hancock’s tone was condescending and chauvinist. That, combined with how single-mindedly he has pursued Joanna in his blogging, even giving up publishing in his own field, just makes him creepy, full stop. And yes, a male scholar pursuing a female scholar in this way has cultural connotations that would not exist in the same way as a female scholar pursuing a male, as unethical and wrong as that would be.

  57. This sounds to me like the false dichotomy anti-conservatives seem to enjoy adopting: “Either you agree with my feminist views or you’re a hateful, bigoted, (or my personal favorite) misogynistic, (etc.) bully.”

    >>Before concluding my little tirade, an admission: I acknowledge the irony of condemning chauvinistic, bullying behavior by writing a post in which I, well, bully the bullies.<<

    I think this sentence might be more accurate if "irony" were replaced with "hypocrisy." I am constantly amazed at how willing some anti-conservatives are to shut down all opinions different than their own, in the name of tolerance, of course.

  58. Feel free to defend Hancock’s behavior as something other than sexist bullying, Ryan. As for the irony/hypocrisy semantic quibble you’re introducing (which, like your generalizations about mean libruls and false dichotomies, is a total deflection), this is a hypocrisy/irony/inconsistency/double standard I’m happy to own.

  59. Ryan I have heard conservatives tout that “in the name of tolerance…” line so many times that I want to (tolerantly) gouge their eyes out. I am tolerant of others beliefs insomuch as I defend their right to them, and to say what they please. I also defend my right to call their views and beliefs a steaming pile of BS. There is no Constitutional ban against views being scrutinized. When someone is as wrong-headed, piggish, and boorish as the people this posting refers to the tolerant thing to do is expose their errant beliefs.

  60. And the fact that Ryan is trying to frame my calling out of Hancock’s unprofessionalism as “trying to shut down opinions different from their own” is just pathetic.

  61. 55 yes, and a google scholar search for ‘bradley kramer’ quickly reveals how far that’s gotten you. Just say it: you just don’t like people who disagree with you or the people you like. You think that permits you to exert social pressure to silence them. You lack respect for crucial values of open discourse when it contradicts your politics. You invoke social science arguments and credentials in defense of your politics, feeling free to call someone a ‘bad social scientist’ without any sense of their actual knowledge or work, but when people use social science arguments against your invocation of social science, you dismiss it as being in apposite.

    Note that I’ve never actually agreed with any of the people you’re attacking…I’ve only disagreed with you and the way you’ve dealt with this.

  62. Brad, you’re missing the point. The fact that you would call Hancock’s piece “unprofessional” (though you used much harsher language previously) is itself the problem. Hancock’s article is very thoughtful and well written. It’s clear your only problem with it is that it exposes many of the inconsistencies of “Mormon feminism.” But instead of addressing those inconsistencies, you attack the author’s character using all the favorite buzzwords.

  63. Google scholar card? Classy.

    I do like people who disagree with me. I don’t like assholes. Even smart ones or published social scientists who are “suspicious” that women can produce misogynistic discourse.

  64. That response tells us all we really need to know: when pushed, you call those who disagree with you curse words. Truly, the quality of bcc posters has slipped.

  65. Brad, I think after trying the you’re not prepared to read serious social science trump card, and then using the yawn trump card, and then using the I know serious social science and you’re no serious social scientist trump card, and then trying the I’m not being serious trump card and finally throwing down the you’re an asshole trump card you only have one venue left in your rigorous and inspiring engagement with TMD, say it loud and say it proud, “I know you are but what am I?”

  66. Mommie Dearest says:

    From where I sit in the virtual Relief Society room (quietly observing section) this entire commentary looks like a male pissing match. Which in and of itself speaks volumes that this is quite the incendiary topic.

  67. I questioned TMD’s social science bona fides specifically on the grounds that he made a dubious social scientific claim (an assessment I still stand by), I yawned when he made a tired, generalized critique of an anthropological straw man and directed it at the social science i’m apparently engaged in here. Saying the original post isn’t an attempt at serious social science is simply stating a self-evident fact, and I him an asshole only when he deliberately acted like one (and not for disagreeing with me).

    I’m completely comfortable letting the claims I’ve made here, about the unprofessional and flagrantly sexist tenor of Hancock’s obsessive critique of Brooks, and about good and bad social science, stand against your comments.

  68. I’m going to play referee here and just make the call that, yes, Brad knows an asshole when he sees one, and so do I. TMD’s defense of the indefensible is completely unconvincing, so now he’s just taking personal potshots. Not ok.

  69. And, for the record, both Ryan’s and TMD’s comments are, for some reason, going directly into the mod queue. I have gone in and individually approved them so that I could engage them publicly.

  70. Brad states that I made a dubious social science claim. His comments, however, seems to reflect a quite problematic view of the relationship between agents and structure. I stand by my claims.

    I stated: “I’m always skeptical of arguments that people are self-hating, or which rely on ‘false consciousness’.”

    To which Brad responded “You don’t have to deploy the language of psychoanalytic marxism to acknowledge that disenfranchised or otherwise marginalized groups often internalize and even reproduce and reinforce discourses and ideologies that rationalize their disenfranchisement. If you honestly can’t see that dynamic at play in mormonism, then you’re probably not ready for peer reviewed social science journals.”

    It’s certainly true that marginalized people can internalize or reproduce disenfranchisement rationalizing discourses. However, we should never assume that this is necessarily the case. Doing so essentially asserts that anyone who expresses non-liberationist ideologies is non-reflective—in essence, a social automaton merely repeating social discourses perpetuated by power. This implies that those individuals are not ‘real’, reflective agents and that their speech lacks the authenticity associated with an authentic agent. Deploying such an assumption in social scientific research will necessarily compromise the research; certainly, it’s contrary to lots of research in a wide range of social sciences. It’s even more troubling when someone would simply assume that that is the character of a real, specific person, as Brad suggested. Contrary to what Brad seems to be suggesting, I would hold that just as Joanna can be an authentic, reflective agent responding to a social structure, so, too, can Ms. Doe. I would need evidence to the contrary before I would assume that Ms. Doe is either motivated by self-hatred or woman hating feelings, or that she is insufficiently reflective to authentically own her views.

  71. typo…

    ‘I would need evidence to the contrary before I would assume’ should be “I would need actual evidence before I would believe”

  72. I went back and read 1 and 3/4 of the articles by Hancock but I just could not go on. A. It was insufferably long, boring, and dry and B. If I had to read his interpretation of what the transformation from young girl-young woman-womanhood looks like one more time I was going to scream. A note to men: you can study all you like, but you will never know how hard it is to be a woman; Hancock would do well to get that through his head. I have not done enough study of Brooks and her beliefs to determine whether or not I agree with her, but a great deal of her quoted assertions are correct–at least in my experience.

  73. Franklin R. says:

    Ryan (#62), the article doesn’t actually expose inconsistencies of Mormon feminism, nor could it, really, since what Joanna wrote is a memoir, a series of stories and personal reflections, not an argument for or against Mormon feminism. To turn it into an occasion for arguing against Mormon feminism, and to say that Joanna must not have understood HER OWN EXPERIENCE if she interprets it in ways that Hancock regards as somehow “feminist” requires a level of condescension and hubris that would not be tolerated in any professional setting (which may be why Hancock publishes it in an outlet with relatively minimal editorial control).

  74. I have never argued that the internalization/reproduction of disenfranchising discourse must always necessarily be occurring, or that social scientific research ought to presume that it is necessarily occurring. Neither have I argued that it is, in fact occurring in the case of Ms. Doe. I argued that it can and does happen, and you expressed skepticism at same. I still contend that mine is a more empirically and theoretically valid social scientific position. And beyond that, none of my claims regarding the paternalism and lack of professionalism of professor Hancock in any way hinge on these points of contestation. It’s been a deflection and a distraction from the moment you raised it.

  75. Mommie Dearest says:

    FWIW, I agree with Brad’s general assessment of TMD’s comments, which aren’t convincing to me either. The tone of his assessments don’t bother me either, since this is sort of his party in his living room. But this is all peripheral to the real issue, which was well presented in the OP.

    I couldn’t watch all of Knuckle Dragger because I felt so embarrassed for him. Plus he does not make his case. I read Hancock’s excoriations of Brook’s book over at Meridian last week. I’m a longtime reader of Meridian, I was disappointed that they’d host something so hate-filled, but the comments there really got me feeling discouraged. There’s too much righteousness police (also called Pharisaism) in the church. Hancock’s piece at Meridian is just a sophisticated version of the infamous Valentine’s Day Not-Love Note at BYU. I see it everywhere, and I don’t want to be part of it.

    As far as the bullying issue is concerned, a forceful response to a bully, particularly by one or more peers, has been shown to be the most effective way to stop the bullying, and there are differences between what a bully does and what is done to stifle them. It’s a fallacious argument to pull the bully card; it’s designed to derail the argument.

  76. Also, I got through about 6 comments on Doe’s article where all the “good” Mormon women said “I haven’t read the book, but…” So then shut up! Do you really feel that your opinion is so necessary as to chime in on something you have never even read? Crime-In-Italy! [btw “Crime-In-Italy” is my catchphrase so expect to see it quite a bit :)~] Don’t all you social scientists go stealing it from me either.

  77. I am really enjoying TMD’s Ralph Hancock impression. It makes this thread almost like performance art. The degree-dropping, the insufferably more-academic-than-warranted-in-the-circumstances tone, the conspicuous disregard for the feelings and experiences of the women in question, the hair-trigger defensiveness. Bravo! Nearly pitch perfect!

  78. “without any sense of their actual knowledge or work,” So enlighten us. How do we google you? Let us weigh your claims of authority.

  79. have fun in your bubble

  80. Googling people before marrying them is against the law of chastity.

  81. SteveP; I’m not a professional mormon, so I’m reluctant to name myself publicly. But if you are really interested, give me an email address and I’ll contact you.

  82. TMD: Truly, the quality of bcc posters has slipped.

    What, it’s only your first day, right? Don’t be so hard on yourself. In the aggregate your contributions have made too minimal an impact to recognize any overall slip.

  83. I’ve been around since 2004, posting sporadically. I’ve just never been an insider.

  84. I’m not interested. But if you make claims to authority in a public place, especially when those claims are used as a stick it would be nice for all of us to be enlightened as to their basis. What is a ‘professional Mormon?’ (I don’t mind that you remain anonymous that’s part of the charm of blog commenting, but once you cross the line of saying “I’m a great x therefore believe me” it’s time to show us the money.

  85. Brad,
    You may not be defending them substantively – but you are in fact defending them. And as you stated, they don’t need you to. Your heroics are unnecessary.

  86. EOR FTW.

  87. Brad – Not impressed by your dialogue here.

  88. That’s really unfortunate because Brad kept saying to me all day about this post, “I just really hope JT likes what I say. Is my tone too defensive? My logic not tight enough? I just wish he would make an appearance and let me know. It’s the not knowing that’s killing me.” And I replied, “Who’s JT?” To which he responded, “Nevermind.” Good to know, on my part. Kind of anti-climactic, though.

  89. You ever wonder how angry, unselfconscious misogynists react to intelligent, outspoken women?

    Your fellow travelers Brad. One big happy Mormon family.

  90. EOR (#80),
    That comment is so full of win.

  91. CTJ, you’re wrong. I’m not defending them. I’m publicly calling bullying bullying because somebody should, many people should, and for Kristine or Joanna to engage their attackers would be to accord them a dignity their antics simply don’t deserve.

  92. Note too that Hancock’s defenders here seem to have taken a page from his book of non-defense-defense. He’s never actually substantively defended the merits of Prop 8, but instead has advanced what amounts a rather strange Straussian argument that Prop 8 requires no reasoned defense whatsoever. No one has prevented TMD or Ryan or KLC or anyone else from substantively defending Hancock’s review of Brooks (er, her work) against the allegations that it is flagrantly sexist and thoroughly unprofessional. And yet they decline to do it, preferring instead to argue against some liberationist specter of cheaply caricatured structuralism which they expertly detect lurking below the surface of the comments of Hancock’s detractors, myself in particular. Franklin (#73) has even advanced some specific, substantive criticisms of Hancock’s treatment of Brooks, and the real social scientists in the room have chosen to ignore it.

  93. Brad, could I insert Cynthia’s critique here and call you for expressing an insufferably more-academic-than-warranted-in-the-circumstances tone? I’m not arguing against some liberationist specter of cheaply caricatured structuralism which I expertly detect lurking below the surface of the comments of Hancock’s detractors, yourself in particular. I have not made one comment about Hancock pro or con, the only comments I have made here are about your childishly insufferable conduct. You’re coming across as a tantrum throwing juvenile. And yet you persist in not only doing it but in lowering the bar with every comment you make.

  94. Left Field says:

    Let me get this straight. This Baer guy is offended by the idea that President Monson might learn something? I thought learning stuff was Job One for a prophet. I sort of like the fact that my prophet can learn stuff. It’s really unfortunate that Baer’s prophet can’t.

  95. KLC, none of BCC’s regular readers needs your help in understanding Brad or his tone or his purpose in using it. May I respectfully request that unless you have something more to contribute, you move along, please? You’re remarkably uninteresting.

  96. It is just so interesting the amount of heat that is generated by posts on teh wimminz – in the bloggernaccle and on the wider internets. As a woman, it makes one wonder – and back sloooowly away…

  97. > ” back sloooowly away…”

    Always a good call when it comes to the bloggernacle, CRW. :)

    Brad is best judged by his heart, which is consistently generous or, if you like, bleeding (he is a liberal after all). IMHO the original post, especially but not exclusively the title, nails it with respect to the subjects of its critique. The rest is details.

  98. Brad,

    As the one making the accusation, the burden of proving the misogyny in Hancock’s article is yours. You seem to think that asserting something is misogynistic is the same as proving it is, and then assert that the burden of disproving your conclusory statement lies with those who disagree. If only it were that easy.


    >>May I respectfully request that unless you have something more to contribute, you move along, please? You’re remarkably uninteresting.<<

    Oh, I love this one. The condescension, the passive aggressive superiority – it all just works so well. And in answer to your question, no, you may not "respectfully request" that anyone leave the conversation.

  99. Rookie mistake, Left Field. Baer is outraged to think that a woman might point out something that a male Church leader could potentially learn based on outcomes.

  100. Ardis, as a regular reader and sometime participant at BCC almost since it began can I thank you for speaking out on our behalf? We all have our reasons for deciding what to say on the internet and I think I’ve made it clear why I chose to speak up here, but I’ve got to say, not once has that reason been, will Ardis E. Parshall find it remarkably interesting?

  101. This is my first comment on bcc. I’ve been reading on and off for a few years and some of the posts on here are just brilliant. I’m not an academic. I am a practicing Mormon from the UK. I don’t know any of the people that this post is about apart from Kristine Haglund who I just happened to watch earlier today on C-Span. (and enjoyed)

    I watched the YouTube clip and and smacked my forehead. I started to read the Meridian post but really couldn’t force myself to continue past the first few paragraphs. I agree with the general idea of standing up and speaking out about issues and so I enjoyed the post.

    What I didn’t enjoy was reading the comments, and usually that’s the best part for me. The total lack of respect was really disappointing.

    Brad, maybe you have a history with TMD? Maybe you’re thinking ‘I know your type, I know what you’re all about?’ I don’t and I didn’t see anything wrong with his disagreeing with you. So why call him an asshole? Even if you think he’s acting like one can you not come up with a more respectful way of expressing it. Maybe not even responding at all.

    Jacob (#88), what’s that all about. Seriously, I’m a nobody to everyone on here. Are you going to tell me “who cares what you think, you’re a nobody. Come on everyone lets laugh at him for thinking my mate Brad even cares.”

    Ardis (#95), were you really being respectful when telling KLC to not write anything else because he/she was ‘remarkably uninteresting.’ Maybe you should reread The Value of Silence yourself.

    I feel like there’s a clique going on here where everyone that doesn’t agree is an uninteresting asshole. And a nobody to boot.

  102. Judith Grant says:

    Wow! I just read

  103. Judith Grant says:

    Sorry………. just read the brilliant letter in response to the BBC s program, signed up and started reading here. Yup, I’m backing slowly away! This is getting too intense for me!

  104. David, I appreciate your saying that you enjoyed the original post, and you’re right that there’s been a problem of respect in the comments. But I’m honestly surprised that you’ve chosen to limit your condemnation of it to a particular range of commenters. Does a close reading of these comments honestly give you the impression that I called TMD an asshole for disagreeing with me? TMD and KLC’s comments have been appallingly disrespectful. That’s not meant as a defense of anyone else’s disrespectful behavior, but, really, let’s not pretend that they came in here respectfully expressing substantive disagreement and then were ambushed by a really mean BCC clique…

  105. No, Ryan, KLC, and David, there was no respect in my request, just as there is no value in your participation here. But thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

  106. “I feel like there’s a clique going on here where everyone that doesn’t agree is an uninteresting asshole. And a nobody to boot.”

    That’s a real misrepresentation of what’s actually happened on this thread. I’m really tired of embattled conservatives showing up somewhere, acting like royal jerks (and I’m not referring to David, here, but to TMD and KLC), and then when they’re called out for it and treated with in-kind disrespect, whining that they’re being punished for disagreeing.

  107. um, who was I disrepectful to before I was insulted?

  108. I’m really tired of embattled conservatives showing up somewhere, acting like royal jerks

    Spare us, please. The-Brad-excoriates-his-enemies-followed-by-his-enemies-showing-up-to-do-battle show is a ‘nacle institution. We all know that civil convos are bad for ratings. The problem is, I agree with you 99% of the time, but your methods can be Springer-esque. Don’t act surprised when the Kung-Fu Hillbilly walks in.

    How bout a nice piece about the Jazz making a playoff run – for the sake of blog unification

  109. I can own being a jerk in this post. It was intended to be jerky. It was intended to be mean. I don’t even mind that it summoned a kung-fu hillbilly or two. I don’t even blame them for acting like trolling jerks. Heaven knows I’m prone to doing the same. But I very much mind them acting like trolling jerks and then pretending like they’re being persecuted for the crime of disagreeing. Nobody here got called names for disagreeing.

  110. CTJ, do you mind if I appropriate ‘Kung-Fu Hillbilly’ as my new blog handle? It’s great! Especially since half of my ancestors are, indeed, from the hollows of west virginia!

  111. David Elliott says:

    Er, that would be “hollers” of West Virginia. From where about half of my ancestors came as well.

  112. Oh good heavens people, way too much infighting and meta. Can we get back to the OP?

  113. Doug Hudson says:

    I just wanted to say that Ardis’ comment at 105 is exquisite, like a finely sharpened knife. In this era of crude insults and pointless trolls, such a beautiful dismissal needs to be recognized (regardless of whether it was warranted or not, though I think it was.)

  114. True Doug,

    Anyone who feeds their own trolls while courteously banning their enemy trolls needs to be encouraged. That way, there is no free discourse, no learning, just rage.

  115. TMD,
    I think your initial comments/questions were both substantive and relevant to the original post. And you were engaged substantively. But it looks like taking that tack didn’t furnish you an opening for levelling an attack, so you changed the subject (to Ms. Doe). That provoked a very modest social scientific claim from me (that the marginalized are capable of internalizing and reproducing disenfranchizing discourse), and you pounced. And overplayed your hand. It’s clear you overplayed it, because ultimately (in comment 70) you conceded that my claim was, in fact true, but then proceeded to attack theoretical axioms which I never endorsed. But my initial claim was the sole basis for your accusing me of viewing the world through a pre-determined politics (likely something related to the “liberationism” that Hancock so persistently makes the boogeyman of non-Hancockian scholarship). The only insult I levelled at you to that point was in the form “if you believe X, then you are Y,” which is something quite different from “you are Y.” I know you understand the difference because you ultimately defended the suggestion that you are Y (a bad social scientist) by arguing that you do not, in fact, believe X.

    It all seems like an exercise in internet trolling 101. Engaging on the substance of the OP got you nowhere, so you elicited a basis for attacking me, first intellectually (by aiming a sweeping critique of anthropology at me on the basis of a very modest and not-at-all controversial theoretical claim), then personally (your totally out-of-line cheap shot in comment #61). That was the basis for me calling you an asshole, not your articulation of disagreement with me.

    And, in fairness, I was out of line to call you an asshole. Even though your personal (and anonymous) cheap shot was undeniably assholish behavior, it was, in fact, the only really assholish comment you’ve made here (credential brandishing is poor form, but certainly not grounds for calling you an asshole). And since I don’t know you outside of this particular interaction, it was unfair of me to use a single, even very offensive, comment as a basis for a general (and also very offensive) label. I honestly apologize for that.

    But I don’t apologize for the sentiment of the original post, or for my claim that Hancock’s behavior toward Brooks is thoroughly paternalistic, flagrantly sexist, and wildly unprofessional. I don’t apologize for arguing that believing X makes you Y, and I don’t apologize for calling you out for engaging in a bit of drive-by trolling and credential waving, or for endorsing Ardis’ claim that (for the above reasons) your participation here is not at all admirable or appreciated. You are not a victim of persecution for your beliefs or positions.

  116. #101, I agree with Brad, but I am still an uninteresting asshole. A nobody is debatable.

  117. nedquimby says:

    I don’t always comment on these posts. But when I do, it’s to thank participants for a most enjoyable mormon nerdfight. Stay feisty, my friends.

  118. Neal Kramer says:

    As the only friend of Brad and Ralph I know, I add a brief postscript.

    It’s hard for me to figure out whether Brad’s liberal attack rhetoric is significantly different from Ralph’s. That is, they are both alpha males on attack. Both really like to be right. Both think they are (almost) always right. More importantly, much of what is actually being discussed has more to do with good manners than any real substance.

    Ralph is an open enemy to to certain versions of feminism he finds harmful to faith. Brad has made himself the defender of those who need no defending.

    The idea that Ralph or Brad, however, cannot simply get along is bothersome to me. Both have ministered beautifully and profoundly to me in times of great spiritual need. Both have bound up my wounds. Both have respected me when many could not or would not. I cannot imagine living my life without either one.

    Do I really have to choose one over the other? No. Can I be irritated by both from time to time and still love them? Absolutely.

    The substance of my response? Love can get me past things that seem trivial (though not entirely) when seen from a perspective somewhat distant from life on the blogs.

    I would not ostracize, demean, or scapegoat either one. I am overwhelmingly grateful to them for including me in their lives.

  119. I read Hancock’s March 22nd essay/review and Kristen Doe Robinson’s review re: Joanna Brooks. They both contrast the basic gospel principles/adherence to the straight & narrow path with the fog/lure of secular relativism that Brooks promotes. The issues raised in these two reviews are timely. They invite a lively, thoughtful discussion especially among mormons who, like me, love the gospel AND the universalism/humanism of mormonism AND are nontraditional (in my case, feminist, left-of-center, career-enjoying miom) AND question, but find Joanna’s and John Dehlin’s embracing of the fog/lure of secular relativism and their use of not-so-disguised political strategies targeting the church to be hollow and just off. I’ve noticed that the fog/lure of secular relativism often seeps into blogs like BCC and has slowly permeated several other blogs/posts classified as part of the bloggernacle. It seems more and more it goes unchallenged, unnoticed or accepted in these circles. I was hoping BCC and others in the bloggernacle would seriously respond to these two reviews rather than simply dismissing them by classifying the authors as bullies. Opportunity missed. I am left to wonder why. (Cross-posted in Meridian)

  120. Kristine says:

    Jana–can you point to anything in Joanna Brooks’ book that actually promotes “secular relativism”? Secular relativists (if there are such creatures) generally don’t discuss their deep and abiding love of God, their desire to be welcome in church, and the powerful witness of scripture to their hearts.

    Just to make it easier, and since you’ve included BCC in your accusation, feel free to point to specific posts or comments that are “secular” or “relativist,” rather than simply espousing political ideas you disagree with.

  121. Jana, I second the call for specific instances of promoting secular relativism here at BCC.

    Also, did you see the great response over here:


    My response to RH’s review of JB’s book turned into a truncated comment there.

  122. “My response to RH’s review of JB’s book turned into a truncated comment there.”

    BH: well, my rebuttal to your response to RH’s review of JB’s book that came in the form of a truncated comment on yet another blog will be sent to you via text message. FYI.

  123. Mommie Dearest says:

    #119, Perhaps what you are seeing as fog and “targeting the church” is what I am seeing as an individual’s political position, which I respect whether it be moderate or extreme to the left or right, though I don’t always share it. My perspective as a reader and occasional commenter at BCC is that here, for the most part, a person’s political positions are respected unless they mix them with mud first and start tossing. (Or if political position is the main topic of the OP — those are always interesting.) There is a comfort level here for a variety of political positions, and truth be told, the permas and frequent commenters are kind of all over the political map. It’s a bit challenging to remember who’s extremely liberal and who’s more to the conservative orthodox, and I don’t always keep it straight. But what I don’t do is lump everyone together.

    I believe the uproar over Hancock’s review of Joanna’s book is focused around his condescending and patronizing tone, and not so much his political position. It’s the idea he promotes that all right-thinking people will agree with him and fear her. The tone is a very good example of the patriarchal entitlement so common among priesthood-ordained men in the church which feels like a cheese grater on the skin of other men and women who, for their own individual reasons, have a different position than the orthodox.

    Have you read Joanna’s book? I have to confess I hadn’t, but I received it yesterday and have read the first couple of chapters. I ought to check for myself if there’s something truly fearful in it, but so far all I can say is that she’s a very good writer, and the book is an enjoyable read.

  124. Exactly Mommie Dearest–the patronizing tone and the not-so-hidden sentiment that women should just run along and play like good little wives and leave decisions and theology solely to men. Don’t worry your pretty little head and just have some babies. Anything other than that seems to be considered radical feminism. What a joke.

  125. Yes. I have read her book and quite of bit of her commentary.

    If Joanna and I lived in the same city, I feel confident we would cast identical ballots every single time. But, gospel is not about politics. It transcends politics. That is the beauty of it. I am just not a fan of targeting the church and its people as part of a very public political advocacy strategy, regardless of the issue.

    Before returning to the church two years ago, I spent many years as a progressive secular humanist/feminist. I now just happen to be mormon instead of secular. I am very familiar with moral/secular relativism and the post-modern language employed to advocate it. Like most english professors, Joanna is a master of it. Again, it is not bad, it is just not consistent with the gospel. Kristine, of course you can state a belief in a loving god and still embrace the concept of secular/moral relativism . Of course you can find meaning in scriptures and still embrace it. Of course you can attend a mainline protestant church or reformed jewish services or mormon services and embrace it. Of course you can reclaim your mormon heritage and embrace certain aspects of mormon teachings while dismissing some basics like the importance of temple ordinances and the literal divinity of Jesus and still embrace it. That is a.o.k. You can do all of these things and be loved and accepted by God and mormons. I get what Joanna and John Dehlin (of the Mormon Stories, Open Stories Foundation in which Joanna is Board Chair) are trying to do: advocating for some type of reform mormonism or Unitarianeque Mormonism. Again, a great path for some, but what they are advocating is not the gospel.

    Focusing on Hancock’s or Robinson’s tone or quirks or applying a basic feminism 101 analysis is entertaining (and some of it is spot on), but it doesn’t diminish the core thesis that Joanna is advocating a mormonism that is not centered on the gospel, which is to say that she is advocating something other than the gospel.

    Also, I didn’t say BCC promotes secular/moral relativism, just that it seeps in from time to time.

  126. I’m not sure whatever happened to being taught correct principles, and then governing myself. Free Agency is at the very core of the Gospel. I am not really sure what Joanna has done that is contrary to framework gospel living. Perhaps I have missed something, can you point me to such an instance?

  127. Mark Brown says:

    Here is the problem with accusing somebody of following the fog/lure (whatever that is) of moral relativism. You can accuse anybody in the world of it, it is very easy to do.

    I hereby accuse Ralph Hancock of being a moral relativist. He’s been doing it for years, right there on the campus of BYU. His office is only a few hundred feet away from the office of Randy Bott. For years, our Mr. Hancock was willing to countenance this desecration of the gospel, perpetrated upon thousands of sfudents per semester, and he did not raise a single objection. But as soon as an uppity woman outlines a view of the gospel which doesn’t follow his Straussian (speaking of secular) model, he perceives a threat to the Restoration and sounds the alarm. Why the relativism?

  128. “Don’t condemn someone for sinning differently than you do.”

    I’m not saying Joanna is sinning in ANY way by writing her book or by publicizing it. I’m sure she is sinning in some way, but so am I and everyone else, so it’s immaterial to the point I want to make.

    I quote that GC statement simply to say that if we shouldn’t condemn someone for sinning differently than we do, how much more should we avoid condemning or judging someone who merely thinks differently than we do?

  129. According to Hancock and his ilk a woman thinking IS a woman sinning.

  130. I think I see what you’re saying, Jana, and think you have an Important Point to make so long as that Important Point is extended to both Hancock and Brooks. What is this Important Point? The question of how our individual beliefs, biases, perspectives, opinions, convictions, etc. merge with what you’re easily calling “the gospel,” and the extent to which such merging is legitimate versus idolatrous. We all tend to mix our philosophies of (wo)men with scripture, no matter what. But I would argue that Brooks has the advantage of Hancock in this mutual defect in that she seems to recognize it in herself whereas he doesn’t. (Her book also has great narrative, his is boorish and lecture-like. That’s beside the point though!)

    So I agree with the need to constantly evaluate whether we are merely looking in the mirror at ourselves-as-God or whether we allow ourselves to be changed by God, or something in between. We need self-reflection, and we need charity towards those whose views differ from ours. This is not a conservative problem of a liberal problem solely. That said, is such self-reflection more likely to be done by those who feel marginalized, or by those who feel mainstream? I would argue those who feel more outside the mainstream feel the alienation a bit more than mainstream folks, but that doesn’t necessarily breed self-reflection and can encourage reflecting on what others (the mainstream) think. But again, “All we like sheep!” Hancock notes that Brooks reminds people that she doesn’t represent all of Mormonism or all Mormon women, while he evidently goes on to speak on behalf of the whole tradition! Sometimes there really are motes and sometimes there really are beams.

    I confess that this problem of evaluating whether my personal proclivities are directing my theology or not is one of my most immediate and intractable tasks when confronting my Mormonness. I admit that I don’t expect to agree with everything every apostle and prophet says, or even everything a unified group of those authorities says at any given point in time, although I seek to sustain them. But no Mormon can agree with it all, everything all our leaders have said, so long as they desire coherence. This is because our tradition is already diverse enough to provide opportunities for a variety of perspectives which grow out of and apply to specific contexts in different ways.

    So I appreciate your concern that personal politics and beliefs don’t automatically trump our religious beliefs without ongoing consideration and prayer, study, etc. We can learn from each other. With that in mind, Hancock said he hoped to learn from Brooks, but his review made it evident he really only came to lecture, (and to “warn” everyone else!) followed by an off-stage closing prayer on the behalf of her ostensibly lost soul.

  131. Sorry for length. The quick version:

    All of us basically make exchanges between our view of the gospel and our political, social, personal views and opinions. It’s important not to let the personal tail wag the gospel dog, but discerning when this is actually occurring is a difficult exercise of self-reflection. This isn’t relativism, it’s the messiness of life. (In the present case, Brooks seems more aware of this fact than Hancock.)

  132. Mommie Dearest says:

    Maybe we need a BCC bumper sticker: Don’t Judge Me Because My Moral Relativism Is Different From Yours.

    I’ve been well taught by the last few comments. I prefer to include Hancock and his ‘ilk’ along with everyone else, all in the same group of folks struggling to keep our covenants, and in need of self-reflection as we struggle to remove our blind spots. When I read Sister Brooks’ account of growing up Mormon, instead of fearing that she’s promoting something dangerous to me I’m able to grant her the agency to reflect on her experience however she chooses. I don’t feel like I must necessarily agree with her perspectives, but if i keep an open mind I might learn something helpful to my own struggles. At the very least it’s an interesting read.

  133. nedquimby, the most interesting usually-lurker in the bloggernacle!

  134. jonathan says:

    Brad…Why so chivalrous?

    Kristine is not in need of rescuing or defending. Besides, name-calling in the name of social science does not become us.

  135. jonathan, Brad anticipated your criticism in the opening post. Not paying due attention to the opening post does not become us.

  136. ps- is it cool that I just rescued Brad even though we’re both dudes?

  137. jonathan says:

    Well there you have it, Blair! Thanks for calling my attention to Brad’s anticipitory skills. I’ll try to read more careful next time. Much appreciated, dude.

  138. A lot of testosterone building up in here…

  139. Stuart Hall says:

    Brooks problem is that she wants Mormonism to be an ethnicity rather than a religion. I can see why a white ethnic studies professor would want this to be so but you can’t wash off your white privilege that easily. It is extremely disrespectful to the histories of people of color in this country to pretend otherwise.

    Because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a religion (not something immutable like race or ethnic origin) it is completely fair to ask how many doctrines you can disbelieve and still claim to represent the members of that religion. I want Mormonism to be a “big tent” religion and so I’d say that if you believe in the atonement and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, seer and revelator then you are inside the tent.

    I do not think Joanna has ever claimed to believe either of those things. That does not mean she is a bad person. It just means she is not a Mormon Girl.

  140. Hancock’s critique now gets into Mormon Times/Deseret News. Oh goody.

  141. That above link goes to page 4 of 4. Page one starts here.

  142. Kristine says:

    Stuart–I presume if you’re making such sweeping claims about Joanna’s beliefs, you’re a personal friend, or have been in her ward where she might bear testimony in teaching or in testimony meeting. I’m unaware of any requirement for public testimony-bearing or swearing of loyalty oaths to be considered Mormon.

    Go read Elder Uchtdorf’s talk–it’s online now.

  143. #139 Stuart ~ I want Mormonism to be a “big tent” religion and so I’d say that if you believe in the atonement and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, seer and revelator then you are inside the tent.

    Lots of Mormons don’t believe Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and they do take issue to being denied the label “Mormon.”

    Here are some of them.

  144. Really surprised by this. The post has no argument in it, just a claim, and when commenters ask for the argument behind the claim the poster gets grumpy and resorts to ad hominem attacks. BCC needs to lift its game – very disappointing.

  145. BHodges says:

    Tb, how come you never comment on my book reviews? Lift your game, yo!

  146. I like cheese. Hi Brad!

%d bloggers like this: