Patriarchal Innocence and the Church

Recently, I’ve been listening to Eric Michael Dyson’s book Tears We Cannot Stop: a Sermon to White America. As a white dude who grew up in the South and who currently lives in the south in the era of Black Lives Matter and the Drumpf Administration, I’ve been thinking a lot about what race has meant to me. Professor Dyson’s book is an excellent jeremiad against indifference to the suffering and death being inflicted on our African-American brothers and sisters and I recommend the book to anyone who really wants to understand what is at stake in our current racial discord. But I don’t really want to talk about that today. Instead, I want to talk about innocence.

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Professor Dyson mentions Dr. Jennifer Pierce’s book, Racing for Innocence, and how it introduced the concept of “white innocence” as an interpretive tool. Dr. Alex Mikulich defines white innocence as follows: “It is how whites tend to think, speak and act as if we play no role in the racial conflict that is largely of our making and responsibility.” Dr. Pierce, while engaging in an ethnographic study of a law firm, tracked how the lawyers at the firm talked about affirmative action and its effects, a hot topic at the time. She determined that the privileged white men at the firm, who were experiencing no ill effects from affirmative action, nonetheless felt its effects as injurious. As she notes:

Though most of these men refrained from making overtly racist remarks and deny accountability for racism, many recalled a time when they could work in predominantly white and male segregated spaces, earn robust salaries, and have a little fun at work by telling off-color jokes. (pg. 3)

While these men did not think of themselves as racist, they nonetheless acknowledged a longing for a more segregated workspace, where they could give themselves more freedom of expression at the expense of excluding groups like women and minorities.

A correlation of this notion of white innocence is a narrative Dr. Pierce calls “white racial progress,” wherein initially ignorant white folk (usually men) become saviors of people of color. As someone who grew up in the south in the 1980s, I cannot tell you the number of times I was assured that the ancestors of my neighbors and my family were good to black folk. Anecdotes abounded of our generosity and gentility. It was almost hard to believe that Jim Crow was all that bad, what with all these benevolent white folk wandering around.

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Anyhoo, in thinking about all this, I began to think about the many times I’ve talked with women in the church about the systemic discrimination that they face. The number of times I’ve thought to myself, “Yes, what you describe is horrible, spiritually and emotionally degrading. I am sorry that you’ve had this experience. But I’ve never witnessed such behavior in the church, so I’m sure that what you experienced was an anomaly.” I think that my own behavior in this seems to betray a kind of patriarchal innocence, wherein I deny the reality of the system that privileges me above other groups, while taking advantage of those privileges, and at the same time imagining myself a kind of savior of women, protecting them from patriarchal abuse by the sheer power of my self-regard.

I remember one time getting into a small-time online fight with C Jane regarding the influence of BYU/Utah County on church culture. I was trying to argue that the high concentration of Mormons in Utah County meant that their attempts to enforce orthodoxy went to extremes, which were then exported to a relatively innocent “mission field.” C Jane, correctly called me out, because I was positing that there was some mythical un-Utah out there, where the church was fair to women and where the vagaries of bishop-roulette wouldn’t determine the level of orthodoxy and orthopraxy women had to maintain to experience dignity in a church setting, a utopia where garments fit well and where the creation of a mother’s lounge wasn’t seen as the height of accommodating women. Wherever I go, my status as a male who is willing to hold a calling in church makes me appear more valuable to the church than any given woman. While I may not agree with this practice, I nonetheless benefit from it in how I interact with the church. And while I may not intend to engage in discriminatory practices should I ever again receive a calling of some ecclesiastical power, my influence will always be limited by geography and by a system that inherently devalues women and their contributions, even while calling them incredible. Being just one dude (and a currently inactive one at that), my belief that “real Mormonism” will move beyond this broken gender system at some future day does squat to help women (and minorities) being hurt by the church right now.

I would suggest that a flower or chocolate bar on Mother’s Day and the occasional talk by a man about what makes women great is, at this moment, not a true attempt to acknowledge, dignify, or support the women in our congregations, but rather a necessary fiction in order to maintain church leadership’s patriarchal innocence of a system that routinely dismisses women. The church makes these gestures to, unwittingly I think, provide itself cover for the various ways in which women’s voices are discounted, ignored, or excluded from the councils and leadership of the church. This isn’t to say that the church doesn’t have anything to say about fatherhood, but fatherhood is always addressed within a context of priesthood, because good fathers will have it and because Mormon masculinity is so tied up with priesthood leadership and position that it is impossible to untangle them and make any sense. There is no similar corollary for women; a mother is not a failure in the church if she is not made a Relief Society President by the time she is fifty, but a man might be considered so if he is not a high priest by the same age. So women get motherhood and men get priesthood, not because those are equal callings or responsibilities, but because the church has not yet found a way to discuss masculinity that does not come in the context of men presiding over women. Think about that the next time a home teacher asks a father to choose someone to say a prayer.

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All that said, I do think that Mormonism is God’s church, but it is also literally man’s. I believe that as we embrace more of the godly, and let go of the worldly, our embrace of patriarchy (and white supremacy) will loosen and those aspects of this religion will fall away. Otherwise, I don’t understand what the purpose of an open canon and revelatory direction might be. But in the meantime, we have a duty to mourn with those who mourn and comfort the comfortless today. That is not a task that will be accomplished so long as men in the church pretend to themselves that they do not benefit from or perpetuate the subjugation of women’s voices.

Comments

  1. Jason K. says:

    Great post, John. We men need to see the phenomenon you describe, but we have a whole lotta incentives not to see.

  2. Tiberius says:

    I agree with much of this, but the self-flagellating (am I True Ally? Or am I and my people forever scarred by our racism?) gets tiring after a while. A single religion is exhausting enough without having to tack on a whole other layer of original sin, condemnation, virtue signalling, and soundbites (I’d like to bury my testimony against the hegemonic cisnormative patriarchy…).

    Also, in regards to your graphic, the following chrome extension might be illuminating: it replaces “white,” with “black” so people can realize how offensive some of their statements about white people could be.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/racism-simulator/dmjhkebiknajjcgfjcfaefladmonilah?hl=en

  3. Tiberius,
    I’m glad that you agree with me, even though you think I’m engaged in insincere and vapid performance. Heck, you’re probably even right.

    But as for your chrome app, I’m deeply skeptical that it will have the context of actual history behind it to provide a perspective on what is offensive. Actually, the more I think about it, the less sense the app makes. For instance, I quoted Dr. Mikulich as saying of white innocence “It is how whites tend to think, speak and act as if we play no role in the racial conflict that is largely of our making and responsibility.” If we changed that to “It is how blacks tend to think, speak and act as if we play no role in the racial conflict that is largely of our making and responsibility,” that sentence is nonsense. Black folk did not largely create the racial conflict that has resulted in their oppression; that is on the white folk. That sort of switcheroo might make a kind of sense in a completely contextless world without history, but in our actual world, where the US was and is a country with white supremacy at its roots, that’s just stupid.

  4. “The Drumpf Presidency” Such an offhand, mockery for the sake of mockery, comment about Obama by a white man would’ve been immediatly branded as racist by many. Privileged white men are only allowed to express a very limited range of opinions, criticisms, or offhand mockery about race or gender without being branded as racist or sexist. Forgive me, I’ve probably said too much.

  5. RobL, indeed you have. Bye!

  6. Tiberius says:

    We can reasonably discuss how systemic inequalities are perpetuated intergerationally, and that a lot of white people don’t understand or comprehend the myriad little ways that black people are sometimes disadvantaged (that being said, I’d wager a lot of black people don’t either).

    However, often the language used goes farther than this, and starts to borders on original sin (not so much here but seen elsewhere), collective guilt (discussing the culpability of We white people), and confession-as-public-ritual (the public introspection about our own racism), none of which is part of my Mormonism. It took me long enough to shed the guilting aspects of Mormon culture that I’m not ready to add on another layer.

    I think the point of the chrome extension is not that everything should be historically acontextual, but rather to point out that for some reason the kind of sweeping statements that are considered okay to make about one group are considered completely inappropriate to make about another group. The graphic in particular was an example of that (imagine a gangster black person dancing around a sign that says “black people,”) Another example, “It is how whites tend to think, speak and act .” Change that to “It is how blacks tend to think, speak, and act.” For whatever you’re saying it is that blacks tend to think, speak, and act, if you said that without qualifying it somehow, then you’re going to come under fire in ways you wouldn’t for white people.

    But I realize that those sweeping aspects weren’t the main point (and that my response may say more about me than you) but rather that tendency have a tendency to patronizingly diminsh the struggles women and racial minorities, and in that sense the OP is well-taken.

  7. Your lines about priesthood/motherhood are without doubt the best I’ve ever read on that false equivalence — thank you. (And just for the record, my home teachers skip the pretence of deferring to me for choosing a pray-er, and simply call on each other.) Thanks, John.

  8. Thank you, JohnC.

    I cannot even imagine what men’s reaction to a church as female as our church is male would be. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a space of any kind that is as female-gendered as our church is male. Not Girl’s Camp, not Grace Hopper Conference (women in tech), not the room where I gave birth to my children. Certainly not Women’s Meeting of general conference. Saturday of our recent General Conference had 3 meetings totally 6 hours and and not a single female speaker. Can you imagine how men would react if year after year they were asked to attend meetings that female? Has anyone seen how men react when asked to add tampons to a list of things they’re picking up at the store, or how men react when asked to watch a “chick flick”? Have you seen how men react when the hymn is “As Sisters in Zion” and they are appalled that they could be asked to utter those words?

  9. RobL,
    My son installed John Oliver’s chrome extension on my desktop computer months ago and it has gotten so that I don’t even see the switch anymore. So that wasn’t intentional. Nonetheless, I stand by the mockery, because he deserves mockery.

    Tiberius,
    “It took me long enough to shed the guilting aspects of Mormon culture that I’m not ready to add on another layer.”
    I think I get what you are saying. To maintain some healthy form of sanity, we cannot spend all our lives bowing and scraping to some other group in order assert our dignity. That white folk frequently demand that sort of deference from other groups isn’t particularly relevant either; what is terrible for the geese is terrible for the gander. So while I see the desire for personal emotional distance, I still think the need to acknowledge personal complicity in unjust intergenerational systems is critical, both because we don’t solve problems we do not acknowledge and because the oppressed are rarely allowed an equal emotional distance. It doesn’t look like I will ever need to have a talk with my son about how if he says one wrong thing to a police officer, he would likely be shot and killed, but who knows what the future holds.

    As for sweeping generalizations, I agree that they are problematic. I suppose it is up to the individual to decide whether or not such a generalization is relevant or appropriate in a given situation. As a rule though, the difference between white folk making generalizations about black folk and the reverse is usually the difference between aggressors justifying their aggression and victims trying to understand their aggressors. That’s not nothing.

    Cynthia,
    PREACH!

  10. Excellent, John. So much here to think about.

  11. Thank you, John. It always comes as such a welcome surprise to feel heard or seen in the context of being a Mormon woman. Especially by a man. Thank you again.

    Also, thanks Cynthia L., for your awesome comment.

  12. Really good, John. Thank you.

    “the church has not yet found a way to discuss masculinity that does not come in the context of men presiding over women.”

    THIS. We need to talk more about the construction of Mormon masculinity, I think, if we’re ever going to make any headway. Because right now, the very meaning of being male (which as you note is inextricably bound up with priesthood in LDS discourse) is to have authority over, and at times exclude, women. One of my sisters made an observation that has haunted me: church leaders report having their most powerful revelations in male-only spaces (i.e., priesthood meetings in the temple at which only the highest male leaders are present). They’re participating in a spirituality that is to some extent defined by its exclusion of women. If their experience is that God speaks most directly when women aren’t present, of course they’re going to see women who want ordination as a threat, not just to the system that privileges them, but even to their very connection with the divine.

  13. Thank you. John. I especially appreciate this part: “My status as a male who is willing to hold a calling in church makes me appear more valuable to the church than any given woman. While I may not agree with this practice, I nonetheless benefit from it.” It is something I try to explain to Mormon men often, but I’m a woman, so my views are discounted, as you accurately pointed out.

  14. And yet there are exceptions. I was pleased, as well as amused, to hear from one of my 30-something friends with 4 children that her husband had asked her with exasperation, with respect to prayer in the home, “Why do I always have to be the one to ask someone to pray?!”
    Another father of a young family tells me he makes the non-reciprocal hearkening covenants of the temple reciprocal every day by making the same covenant to his wife that she makes to him in the temple — looking forward to the day when what was inclusive and protective of women in the 19th century (his historical analysis) can be made to be inclusive of 21st century women in “equal partnership” spousal relationships.
    I wonder sometimes how many more exceptions there might be, at least in matters they can individually control, if LDS men were not constantly told they must lead and preside as priesthood holders in their homes and elsewhere. Is it possible, e.g., that Ardis’ home teachers would be relieved to have her in charge in her own home, that deferring to her would not be a pretence at all if they only felt authorized to do so? Maybe that depends in part on how much they have internalized the indoctrination.

  15. “If their experience is that God speaks most directly when women aren’t present, of course they’re going to see women who want ordination as a threat, not just to the system that privileges them, but even to their very connection with the divine.”

    This bring to mind the physical reminder of this of the veiling at the temple.

    We have a huge disconnect for those young women brought up in the EFY generation of being told over and over in song and story that they have a direct connection to God. And I believe individually they do. But anyone who studies the hierarchical patriarchal system of church and temple governance will see that there is not place for women except as auxiliaries to making sure men reach God.

  16. Thanks, JohnC.

  17. JR, I seriously doubt that many men think consciously of presiding when it comes to home teaching, unless perhaps a particular quorum has just debated it. Men are simply so used to directing everything in a Church setting that it doesn’t occur to them that they could possibly be overstepping their bounds. Once I agree to an appointment on a given date at a given time, that’s the end of my input: they decide what to teach, and how long to stay, and who will teach and who will pray. They have never seen anything else, and as we ladies are wont to note, “you can’t be what you don’t see.” I haven’t said anything because to me it’s such a petty form of authority that it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to their obliviousness, though.

  18. Ardis, I guess the Church is just not the same everywhere. I have regularly been taught to ask the families or single sisters or brothers I home teach, what they would like me to do as their home teacher, what they would want discussed, and to defer to the home teachee(s) as to how long to stay and who would pray. It would never have occurred to me to do what you describe as standard. Of course, if I were there and called as your home teacher, I’d go even further and ask you what you were willing to teach me! I knew I didn’t fit the standard mold, but hadn’t known that the standard there was so different from the standard I’ve seen and been taught.

  19. I’ve lived long enough now that I can look back to my behavior in the workplace of the 70s and 80s, and be appalled at some of my actions regarding women, even though I viewed myself as progressive and pro-feminimist. I think of the one particular instance where our new sales manager at my work was a woman who I viewed as probably not up to the job. I told her that I was willing to work with her, but nor for her, having to do with my perceptions of her personal shortcomings. I can look back now and only view that as a terrible, horrible thing to say. And yet I am still learning every day just how hard it is to overcome the decades of innocence regarding women in the church and workplace. I still have a long way to go.

    A revealing moment came when I was called as ward mission leader a few years ago, and one of our sisters was called as a ward missionary. It was pretty obvious that she was much more in tune with what needed to happen and be done in our callings than I was. She should have been the WML, not me, but the church still won’t allow that. I had many conversations with our bishop about that, but he felt powerless to do anything. So i did the best I could do, and deferred to her as much as possible, having her attend ward council for me when I could not be there, and letting her lead as much as I could get away with.

    I fear that there is a reckoning coming, a bill as it were that needs to be paid, and the longer we avoid dealing with it, the greater the disruption and chaos that will result.

    Sorry, too much “I” in all this. Thanks for the new insights in this post, and a reminder to always be aware of what is going on around us.

  20. “All that said, I do think that Mormonism is God’s church, but it is also literally man’s. I believe that as we embrace more of the godly, and let go of the worldly, our embrace of patriarchy (and white supremacy) will loosen and those aspects of this religion will fall away. Otherwise, I don’t understand what the purpose of an open canon and revelatory direction might be. But in the meantime, we have a duty to mourn with those who mourn and comfort the comfortless today. That is not a task that will be accomplished so long as men in the church pretend to themselves that they do not benefit from or perpetuate the subjugation of women’s voices.”

    First, I feel that somewhere in there is one of the best arguments I have heard for living prophets. I need to think more on that.

    Second, I fully realize that the point of the post was to call attention to a problem, addressing “innocence” and asking men to recognize their space in the problem, but what about the next step? I feel that in saying I am mourning with those that mourn, I am just being glib as to the issue. That in some respect I am just saying, “Oh sweetie, I hear your problems, and I’m here for you” and that doesn’t actually do anything to address the problem and effect the change John believes could happen. Maybe that’s all that I can do, and maybe that’s all those hurting over this need at this moment. However, I doubt that.

    Let me trying to express that in a different way, John pointed out in the comments that he understands the “desire for personal emotional distance” but that there is still “the need to acknowledge personal complicity in unjust intergenerational systems.” Ok, so I recognize the problems being addressed here. Next, I admit that I have created some emotional distance to what has happened in the past because I am not responsible for the actions of others in past generations. Then, I acknowledge my place in a system that subjugates women’s voices. And what then? Isn’t my mere presence in an unjust system perpetuating personal complicity in the system? Is there any way for me to remain in the system, yet not be complicit in it? It seems like no matter what I teach my kids, no matter how I treat my spouse, no matter what I say in Sunday School / at church about the problem, no matter what I do to comfort those who are hurting, no matter what recognition I make about how the system benefits me, my presence in the system will serve to perpetuate it.

  21. N. W. Clerk says:

    Even though I am male, my home teachers also do not ask me what to teach or who should teach, or when they should leave. As far as I can remember, it’s been like this throughout my 35 years of hosting home teachers.

  22. Jared vdH says:

    thelawsmithy, I don’t know how to answer your question and I don’t know that anyone can answer that question for you.

    There are many who believe that the only ethical answer is to leave the Church and try to reform it from the outside. There are likewise many who believe that the only ethical answer is to work to reform the Church from within.

    If we look at previous church history as precedent, it appears that it is both pressure from without and pressure from within that will ever truly change the Church. It took exterior pressure for Wilford Woodruff to finally issue the Manifesto, but it still took more than a decade of internal pressure for all of the membership & leadership to actually follow it. Many have argued that it was the external pressure of the broader Civil Rights movement that finally got the Church to lift the priesthood ban, but there was also the internal pressure of historians who questioned the provenance of the ban and showed that Joseph was not the originator of it.

    As I said before I think ultimately only you can be the judge of what is the most ethical path for you to take.

  23. JR,
    If everyone was like you, me, and Capt. Moroni, what a world it would be, no? ;)

    kevinf,
    Yeah. I don’t like thinking about some of the truly screwed up things I’ve done. But that’s a part of repentance, so long as we learn from it.

    thelawsmithy,
    Your question is an incredibly important one and not one that someone else can answer for you. Everyone who is involved in the Church (or any organization or movement) needs to weight the effect it has for good and ill and decide what that means for their involvement. Me, I’m self-important enough to believe that my continued involvement in Mormon stuff, minimal as it is, helps its arc stretch ever so slightly toward justice. But if you don’t think your voice contributes at all, or that you cause harm by continued association, leaving is possibly the right thing to do. I know people who’ve come to both of those conclusions and I can’t say which is objectively better, although I know which I prefer.

    If nothing else, recognizing our lack of patriarchal innocence should inspire men in the church to work against the lazy thought and wasteful bigotry that clinging to innocence inspires. There is no reason in the current structure of the church that women cannot be given a bigger role in decision-making and in pastoral affairs. Neylan McBaine made several suggestions here that could be good first steps to rectifying some of the inequities in church life right now, under the current system. Recognizing our complicity in a poorly designed power structure, it is incumbent upon us as moral beings to seek to redistribute power, even if that means letting go of some types of power that we’ve traditionally enjoyed.

  24. Ardis’s comment bears repeating: “Doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to their obliviousness, though.” Exactly this.

  25. N.W. Clerk, do you have to work hard to be that stupid in your rush to make your anti-feminist point, or does it come easily through years of practice?

  26. how men react when asked to watch a “chick flick”

    For the record, any man that won’t sit down and watch You’ve Got Mail with their wife every single time it comes on TV is no man at all. That movie is delightful.

  27. @thelawsmithy,

    As a woman in the church I am very limited in my ability to communicate up the priesthood ladder. If men want to do more than empathize, one thing they can do is be aware of opportunities they have to speak that women rarely get. If you get those moments, speak up.

    For example, I will rarely, if ever, be invited to a Ward Council meeting. If you are, suggest inviting the Relief Society President if she is not there. Or voice the concerns you’ve heard expressed by women in the ward.

    I will never be a Sunday School president. If you are, encourage your teachers to quote women in their lessons.

    I will never be a bishop. If you are, make sure Activity Days and young women get equal funding and opportunities as boy scouts and young men. Ask for input from the Relief Society President to plan Sacrament meetings. Make sure the young women are tasked with responsibilities in the ward. Invite women to meetings. Be aware of the problems inherent in speaking alone to teenage girls about sexual activity, and take the necessary steps to ensure their comfort and safety.

    I will never be a stake president, and will rarely speak to one. If you are or if you do, listen to the women in your life and amplify their concerns. Take those concerns as far up the ladder as you can.

    Look around in your meetings and pay attention to your callings. You may be in a unique position to make a difference if you choose to care and act.

  28. This is a great comparison, John C. Thanks for blogging about it.

    Marian, I love your list. Thanks for offering so many practical suggestions. Although I’m male, I haven’t been in a position to put many of them into practice, but I’ve definitely made it a point to quote women in lessons I’ve taught.

    Cynthia L., I love your point about men being totally unable (or more likely unwilling) to cope with being in a space that’s as female-dominated as the Church is male-dominated. Your examples of even tiny accommodations to the presence of women that men tend to resist are really telling.

  29. Now we have here a clear example of the importance of perspective. I had to go back to read N.W. Clerk’s comment to see what Ardis was talking about. I now see that Clerk’s comment can easily be read as anti-feminist, but I had not initially seen that. I had thought he was merely confirming that Ardis’ experience with home teachers was the same as his and that my church home teaching experience is not standard home teaching style or instruction throughout the church. Maybe my first reading had more to do with my perspective than with Clerk’s comment. Maybe not.

  30. Do you want to know how to be more mindful of your privilege while making the world an easier place for us ladies? Stand up for us every once in a while, while online. Or at a bare minimum, don’t make passive aggressive comments that imply that female commentors are easily offended feminists.

    p.s. Some of you guys here at BCC are great for stepping in when someone is making sexist comments, thank you. There is a real mental and emotional cost to always having to be the one to say “That’s not right”, especially because the response is almost always to cast female commenters who say this as easily-offended or whiny feminists. But, if “That’s not right”, doesn’t get said in the face of sexist comments, eventually an online space becomes uninhabitable for women.

  31. Rachael, Is your 2:21 comment directed to me? The only thing that suggests it might be is the sequence or our comments. If it is, let me know and you can have a response.

  32. Lindsey Smith says:

    The difference between Ardis and NW Clerks observation on Home Teaching is that the power dynamic is balanced for Clerk simply because he’s a male and his home teachers are male and all three are on equal playing field (by virtue of being Priesthood holders.) As a sister, I’ve always felt on equal footing with my visiting teachers, given that none of us hold a “trump” card. Though NW Clerks comment on his experience with home teachers is interesting, instead of it offering a counter weight to what Ardis said, it reinforces the truth that men and women often have very different experiences within the church, even in similar settings.

    Love the list, Marian… and I too have that debate of conscience, @thelawsmithy.

  33. JR, I was talking to all the guys on the Bloggernacle who are willing to meditatively and humbly ask, “Is it I?” with respect to taking advantage of ones online privilege as a male, whether consciously or unconsciously. Since you have asked yourself that question and come up with the answer, “No, it isn’t me”, then my comment must be directed at others who are less self aware than yourself.

  34. Tiberius says in passing: am I True Ally? Or am I and my people forever scarred by our racism

    “Both” for $600, Alex.

    I have several times visited the small town in central Tennessee where my ancestors lived and owned slaves. On each of those occasions, some well-meaning person told me, in the same manner as John mentions in the OP, that the former slaves kept the family name after emancipation “because they were well-treated,” as if it’s even within the realm of reason to discuss decent treatment when you buy and sell human beings as if they were cattle. I don’t understand it. And yet, as a white American of a certain age, I have attitudes and prejudices that have been rubbed deeply into my pores from my earliest youth. I grew up in the North, my parents did their best to raise me free from prejudice, they explicitly expunged any overt expression of bias that escaped my childish lips, but I can’t escape it.

    All I can do is my absolute damnedest to act like the person I’d like to be, the person I wish I was.

    As long as Mormon men define their masculinity by their hierarchy – and especially by their presiding over women – and they are encouraged to do so by the “official” power structure of the Church, that will be the type of men they wish to be. They will be encouraged to improve, to be more gentle, to be more condescendingly kind, to be nicer; but never to allow equality. They will always be rural Tennesseans at heart, talking about how well-treated the second-class citizens are. That is the real, long-term damage of the structure.

    Recently there’s been a mini-trend of pointing out to young men the importance of the PH keys held by the presidents of deacon’s and teacher’s quorums. While I think that this can be helpful in getting some of today’s kids to step up and lead, it can also be harmful if comparisons are drawn that encourage those young presidents to see themselves as having divine authority over their mothers and grandmothers, ward Relief Society leaders, and other adult women with age and experience and knowledge temporal and spiritual that those young men can’t fathom. I would hate to see that lesson in responsibility become a lesson in superiority.

  35. My 4 white teenage sons informed me at dinner before ym today that America is clearly discriminatory against white males in college admissions, the job market, and at the local high school.

    I wonder why they think that?

  36. Swisster says:

    Just had Stake conference. Here are the speakers for the nearly 2-hour-long Sacrament Meeting and the adult combined meeting: bishop, 2 high councilors, stake president and 2 counselors. Irony: the topic was strong families. Why not hear from a couple of women somewhere in there? And why not consider the challenges posed to young children by such an unusually long Sacrament Meeting? I have heard that the speakers (by position/calling) for ward and stake conference are dictated by the area presidency or first presidency. Does anyone know if that is true?

  37. When you’re accustomed to privilege, anything even leaning towards equality feels like you’re being discriminated against?

  38. Bbell,
    It is likely because in 2017 that is demonstrably true. A female with my education, skills and experience would make 10-20% more money at the same company. There is little doubt about the high school situation either. The average male makes lower grades than a normalized, objective, measure of learning (say a standardized test) versus the average female high school student.

  39. Swisster,
    We were instructed by the SP to choose a couple of individuals from the ward council to speak at ward conference. There were 3 ward speakers total and the instructions given to the bishop were: 1 is the bishop, 2 is a sister from ward council, 3 is any other ward council member.

    In our recent stake conferences there are frequently 2-3 female speakers. Typically one is either the wife of the mission president or one of the temple matrons. There is also usually 1 sister from our stake speaking in the general session.

  40. I love the thoughtfulness in @thelawsmithy ‘s comment, and while I have no answers to it, I concur that this passage rang like bells for me:

    “I believe that as we embrace more of the godly, and let go of the worldly, our embrace of patriarchy (and white supremacy) will loosen and those aspects of this religion will fall away. Otherwise, I don’t understand what the purpose of an open canon and revelatory direction might be.”

    It does occur to me, though, that (his?) feelings about whether needed change is more likely to be catalyzed by his remaining in or abandoning the institution, are very similar to how a whole lot of women feel about their marriages to men who can’t yet see any of this.

  41. el oso,
    Rather than getting into a debate about sources, statistics, and damn lies, I’m just going to say that your anecdote regarding the wage gap appears to be an outlier. Perhaps that is the case in your company or in your industry, but across the board the gap is pretty well settled.

    I also appreciate you providing a performative example of the kind of patriarchal innocence and progress narrative discussed in the opening post. Good job.

    el oso and bbell,
    I understand that it might feel to white teens like they are the target of perpetual, social assault right now. The young are immature and self-centered, at least as much as us, if not moreso. They look out and see scholarships, programming, and markets catering to groups that don’t include them. They see minorities using words publicly that they cannot in polite company use. As a parent or influential grown-up, it then falls to you to explain to these young folk that none of this takes place in a vacuum. The reason things like BET or the LPGA exist is because television and golf wouldn’t accept or cater to black folk or women and so those groups created their own organizations. Almost any specialized minority organization that you encounter was created as a means for that group to claw back a little bit of dignity, economic and political autonomy, and visibility from an overwhelmingly white supremacist and chauvinist society. If this feels like discrimination, then point out to the teens the myriad of other ways in which society caters to them, uses their desires as the baseline for its advertising, commerce, and rhetoric, and encourage them to consider what exactly it is they lose or gain when more opportunity is given to another in a society where they are privileged well above most other groups. Or, I suppose, you could tell the little snowflakes to suck it up and just be better people, rather than whining about how tough they have in their safe spaces. ;)

  42. el oso says We were instructed by the SP to choose a couple of individuals from the ward council to speak at ward conference. There were 3 ward speakers total and the instructions given to the bishop were: 1 is the bishop, 2 is a sister from ward council, 3 is any other ward council member.

    In our recent stake conferences there are frequently 2-3 female speakers. Typically one is either the wife of the mission president or one of the temple matrons. There is also usually 1 sister from our stake speaking in the general session.

    Once again, leadership roulette means that experience varies widely from ward to ward, stake to stake. As OP (and comment) points out, that makes it easier to say, “Yes, what you describe is horrible, spiritually and emotionally degrading. I am sorry that you’ve had this experience. But I’ve never witnessed such behavior in the church, so I’m sure that what you experienced was an anomaly.” It would seem that everything is some kind of anomaly; when there’s a spectrum of experience, the mean or norm becomes irrelevant. However, I’m betting that the “I’ve never witnessed” situation is either the outlier or the result of inattentiveness.

  43. And let’s not forget who is picking these people to speak in the first place. It is not women.

  44. I really enjoyed the post John. It was through my frustration with how oblivious many men seem to be to the clear discrimination of women in our world that awakened me to my own white privilege. It was easy for me to see male privilege from a very young age, but it wasn’t until my 20’s that I really made the link that I was as oblivious about my white privilege as many of the men I know were about their male privilege. I used to roll my eyes anyone “pulled the race card” (as well as referring to people mentioning their disadvantages as “pulling the race card”) and I just couldn’t see how their lives were different from mine. I just assumed everyone lived the same race free life I did. My race makes almost no difference in my life and I assumed it was the same for everyone else. For me, it took being in a disadvantaged group to really understand how I maintained an almost invisible (to me) advantage in other areas of my life. I have to be honest, if I were male I’m not sure I ever would have seen it.

  45. I remember when I was first introduced to the phrase white privilege, I felt very defensive and immediately began recounting all of the ways in which I was not racist. I insisted that I did not have white privilege because I didn’t overtly use being white to get ahead. Since then I have come to understand what it really means and how I fit into it. This is why I really like the word innocence as it is applied to racism and sexism . I feel it more accurately describes people’s overt involvement and as a bonus, is less likely to put someone on the defensive.

  46. Our new bishop eliminated PEC meetings. We have ward council each week with the women leaders and he told their husbands to help with the children at home so they can attend.

    I don’t know if that is a trend around the church, or just our unit. Is that progress?(baby steps?) I don’t know, it isn’t like it is some huge thing compared to all that women deal with in the church…but…maybe it is something for our ward. The fact husbands have to be talked to is actually evidence of a lot of the sentiments brought up in responses to this post. It’s kinda strange. There is a lot of opportunity for priesthood curriculum to include topics that should help us as the Lord’s church be at the fore-front of equal rights and charitable treatment of all, not laggards.

    It just makes me think if we never have these discussions…the thinking will never change.

    Priesthood does not have to be limited to how we currently view it…as I think the church has established that we are influenced by the culture we grow up in, and there is always a need for greater light and knowledge.

  47. “he told their husbands to help with the children at home so they can attend.” On the flip side, I don’t think I’ve ever seen our ward’s EQP without his infant daughter in his arms.

  48. It’s great to discuss issues of gender and race, but it’s clear that the participants here only want to hear a single view. Steve, you silenced RoBL for daring to call out the double standard that is applied in these types of discussions. The effect is to limit your audience and influence to a bubble of like-minded liberals, who apparently can’t survive discussions outside of their echo chamber safe space.

    If John C.’s views have any logic, reason, or worth, then they should be able to stand up to scrutiny. I believe your real concern is that you know that John C.’s views are inherently racist, sexist, subject to blatant double standards, and unsupportable by logic and reason.

    Let the self-loathing continue.

  49. wreddyornot says:

    Thanks for posting on this subject. What I’d like to see is some Mormon novelist (a new one or one already established) create a work relative to patriarchy issues in our culture on a comparable level to Angie Thomas’s fine work in *The Hate U Give* (it relates to Black Lives Matter).

  50. wreddyornot says:

    Junia, sincere question. You complain of moderation of conservatives at BCC. Where in the bloggernacle would you recommend a liberal go to have a sincere, open-minded and unmoderated discussion with conservatives?

  51. Junia,
    Let’s go over RobL’s comment and then we can discuss your accusations:
    ““The Drumpf Presidency” Such an offhand, mockery for the sake of mockery, comment about Obama by a white man would’ve been immediatly branded as racist by many.”
    This strikes me as having no logical connection to the above post. Outside of calling me a lazy satirist (to which I plead guilty), RobL’s notion that one can mock Trump has no bearing on whether or not a given comment about Obama would be considered racist. To take a roughly similar grade of name-calling, I think it is dumb when conservatives called the former president Obummer. But I don’t think it is racist, just lazy. In fact, I cop to the laziness because, like I said above, I didn’t even make the joke. My son’s use of John Oliver’s Chrome extension did and I just didn’t notice it until the piece was published. I plead guilty to the lazy, but I don’t think there is a logical connection (outside of considering it characteristic of a general laziness, I guess) to the opening post. Please correct me if you think I’m wrong.

    “Privileged white men are only allowed to express a very limited range of opinions, criticisms, or offhand mockery about race or gender without being branded as racist or sexist. Forgive me, I’ve probably said too much.”
    As far as I know, everyone is capable of saying racist and sexist things. It is not solely the domain of privileged white dudes. But the overwhelming number of examples we encounter in pop-culture do appear to come from privileged white dudes. Make of that what you will. Functionally, RobL is saying, “White people can’t talk about race without being accused of being racist simply for having an opinion.” And yet, I somehow managed it in the OP for roughly half of its length. Heck, I admitted my own inadequacies in the field and still managed it (I think; POC please feel free to chime and let me know if I did anything racist). Dear Junia, to be accused of racism, you need to first express some racist thought. That’s the bar to clear. Again, I would urge you to consider context in judging any particular utterance for its toxicity. Punching down is, generally speaking, worse than punching up.

    Now, let’s switch to your comment:
    “Steve, you silenced RoBL for daring to call out the double standard that is applied in these types of discussions.”
    Steve is free and welcome to defend himself, but RobL didn’t call out a double standard. He made an irrelevant assertion, followed by another. Whether or not a given white dude has or has not made sexist or racist remarks about some group or individual is not relevant and is not an argument. America is sufficiently awash in bad (and good) racial interactions that it is likely possible to find a single event that demonstrates all our points. Anecdotes, even if only vaguely applied, are not helpful.

    “The effect is to limit your audience and influence to a bubble of like-minded liberals, who apparently can’t survive discussions outside of their echo chamber safe space.”
    Nobody wants to live in an echo chamber. Please actually tell me what I’ve gotten wrong.

    “If John C.’s views have any logic, reason, or worth, then they should be able to stand up to scrutiny.”
    Fair enough. Please scrutinize!

    “I believe your real concern is that you know that John C.’s views are inherently racist, sexist, subject to blatant double standards, and unsupportable by logic and reason.”
    Again, this is not an argument. This is just an assertion. It may well be true in the end, but you need to actually make a counter-argument in order to demonstrate it. Please apply logic and reason to the things I’ve said and point out the flaws. Then we can discuss it and ideally learn something.

    “Let the self-loathing continue.”
    Oh Junia. I appreciate the permission but I would have done it anyway. :)

  52. Angela,

    I never return to the ward I grew up in without seeing our former bishop, then stake president, last I heard counselor in the mission presidency holding someone ELSE’s infant. The last time I saw him, he was sitting in high priest’s group next to my dad with a baby asleep on his shoulder. I know both her mom and dad appreciated the break.

    Mormon men are incredible!

    But seriously, I’m proud to know so many of my LDS brothers. They are phenomenal people and servants of God and their fellow saints. (This doesn’t mean there isn’t damaging and systematic sexism in our church structure and culture, though.)

  53. John C., you lost me when you said you are not an active member. Go make and be the change. Don’t talk about it snarkily from the sidelines and expect 15 white men to do it at the direction of a white male god. Go make and be the change from the inside. Indeed your “belief does squat” when it is backed up by only words.

  54. Mortality rates are rising for middle-aged whites in America, whereas they’re falling (improving) for nearly every other group. Until two years ago hardly anyone even noticed this surge in white deaths. Anyone care to discuss?

  55. Serena,
    Your comment stings, but is fair. All I can tell you is that I’m as active as I can be right now.

    Leo,
    The causes behind the phenomenon you cite are complex and very worthy of discussion, but I don’t see why you find it relevant to this. Can you explain?

  56. really poignant post, John. Thank you.

  57. John C., thank you for this post. I don’t believe you have to be fully active to make the LDS church a better place for your brothers and sisters. What you are doing here makes it a better place for me.

  58. John C. @ 3:55 am, that was an absolutely beautiful and true response to bbell’s and el oso’s false comments.

  59. john f., Some people here, including you, seem to me far too free with words like “false” and far too careless about reading. Bbell reported what his/her sons had said. I doubt you have any better knowledge of what they said than the parent who heard it. Bbell then asked a question. Bbell did not assert that what the boys had said was true. Comments like yours at 5:57pm (not the only one here) simply stifle information and discussion without contributing anything.

    While I believe bbell’s sons’ comments are an overbroad generalization, like many comments in the bloggernacle, if there are still remnants of my historical knowledge from working in payroll/employment/accounting at the height of Affirmative Action or of colleges (graduate schools to the extent I know about it) still designating numbers of limited slots for specific minorities regardless of whether they have more qualified white male applicants, then there would be a factual basis behind bbell’s sons’ overbroad generalization. At the height of Affirmative Action we in fact did sometimes hire less qualified minorities rather than more qualified white males. To that extent, at least, Aflfirmative Action itself was racist; it was certainly not color-blind. The fact of such racism to the detriment of specific white males in some employment and in some college admissions, is a very different subject than whether the former is/was politically/socially justified and appropriate. The fact of such racism in certain college admissions to the detriment of certain white males is also a very different subject than whether it is justified on the grounds that a fully diverse student body is itself part of the educational process. As I was never one of those on the short end of such occasional racial discrimination against white males, I have wondered whether, if I had been, would I still think the college student body diversity a legitimate and appropriate educational goal, would I still think that the fact that certain white males end up paying, individually, some of the cost of trying to correct the problems faced by minority candidates as a result of class discrimination in the past by other whites is no less unfair than leaving the minority candidates without such assistance. I don’t know if I could be that generous if the discrimination against white males had affected me personally. And so, having no idea what the basis of their comment was, I’m less inclined than some to call bbell’s boys insulting names, or to accuse their parent of falsehood in reporting what they said. Sometime this evening, I’ll get over being disgusted.

  60. JohnC, you have been heroic in trying to keep this conversation about making church better for women from getting sidetracked into a conversation about how bad the world is for white men.

  61. I don’t even remember without reading the thread how it came up, but for the record, my home teachers came tonight and one of them asked me who I would like to have pray. I have no reason to think they read BCC, so don’t know what to make of this, other than that it made me smile.

  62. New Iconoclast,
    I was responding directly to Swisster’s first and last questions. My response is about the best info you can get on here until a Stake President or other high authority decides to respond with more specific information.
    Let me summarize this response:
    Why not hear from a couple of women somewhere in there? A: In my ward and stake this is normal. Just anecdotal, but it is something, and leads to the next question.
    I have heard that the speakers (by position/calling) for ward and stake conference are dictated by the area presidency or first presidency. Does anyone know if that is true? A: For our ward conference, some higher authority does offer narrow parameters on who will speak. In stake conference, if this is also done, then it always includes women.

    Fyi, I live outside of Utah, but not too far away. You can fly from SLC to here in just a few hours. The area president can get here quickly, if necessary. I have never seen him or heard of him coming to this area for a visit.

  63. JR,
    I agree that john f likely misread and definitely mischaracterized bbell’s comment. On the other hand, I find it interesting that in your reprimand you mischaracterized john f’s comment. I can’t find anywhere that he called bbell’s sons insulting names. We do all tend to misread comments from time to time and attribute worse things to those with whom we disagree than are actually true. I know I’ve done it.

    “As I was never one of those on the short end of such occasional racial discrimination against white males, I have wondered whether, if I had been, would I still think the college student body diversity a legitimate and appropriate educational goal, would I still think that the fact that certain white males end up paying, individually, some of the cost of trying to correct the problems faced by minority candidates as a result of class discrimination in the past by other whites is no less unfair than leaving the minority candidates without such assistance. I don’t know if I could be that generous if the discrimination against white males had affected me personally.”

    I just want to say that you point out something interesting here where you talk about how angry you would be if you had sufferred discrimination. I just want to point out that I can’t think of a single woman I know who hasn’t sufferred that discrimination. When we feel that anger we mostly get told that we’re too easily offended or that we’re making something out of nothing. It does often make me lose my sense of generosity.

  64. EBK, You have misread. I did not say john f. called bbell’s sons insulting names. That was done by one of the comments of others which I had referred to without specificity (“not the only one” “less inclined than ‘some'”). I also did not say I would be angry if I had suffered discrimination. I wondered and said I didn’t know if I could be as generous if I had. I think we all misread at times, but misreading a simple report of what someone else said as if it were the reporter’s assertion was going too far for me last night on top of other comments including name calling. Having recovered, as promised, from being disgusted, I think I owe john f. an apology for calling him out by name and not others. It was that failure of mine that allowed your first misreading of my comment. For what little it’s worth, I apologize to both of you.

  65. EBK: “When we feel that anger [at discrimination] we mostly get told that we’re too easily offended or that we’re making something out of nothing.”

    It is never “nothing,” though it might sometimes be a misperception or misunderstanding. At times I’ve seen such misperception or misunderstanding at the base of such anger. But, a culture that systematically or commonly supports the kind of event that angers makes it more difficult to be sure whether a particular instance is a misperception or misunderstanding. I cannot imagine it ever being helpful to tell someone that she is too easily offended or making something out of nothing. (Incidentally, I’ve heard that from LDS women, not just men, about other LDS women.) Is there a way to help someone channel the anger you refer to into something positive? or to at least, for her own sake, to make it proportional to the immediate offense rather than the accumulation of similar offenses? It could be that there is too much individual temperament involved to allow more than a speculative answer to either of those questions.

  66. Jared vdH says:

    JR,

    “I cannot imagine it ever being helpful to tell someone that she is too easily offended or making something out of nothing.” And yet that is a phrase my mother had heard repeatedly from various priesthood leaders for nearly her whole life. It’s a wonder she’s still in the Church to be honest. When you’re called to be the RS Pres, then constantly undermined by the bishop who extended the calling to you. When you’re a primary leader reprimanded for trying to give the Activity Days group a similar experience that I had in Cub Scouts. Being told that she isn’t being extended any calling at all because the bishop finds her too “ascerbic”. And various other examples too numerous to mention.

    You get furious at the perceived slight done to bbell, and then ask, “Is there a way to help someone channel the anger you refer to into something positive?”

    Hypocrite much?

  67. Jared, Your mother’s experience is not a counterexample to anything I said. Read. I said I could not imagine that saying those things could be helpful. I inquired whether there was anything to say that could be helpful. The point is that if my question can be answered it may be possible to train a few local leaders not to articulate the unhelpful judgments, to do something else instead. That would be a very tiny step, but it’s not nothing. There is nothing in my comment to suggest that I have ever made the unhelpful comments or that I approve of those who do or of the system that elicits the feminine anger or that I think that feminine anger unjustified. There is nothing in my comment on the slight to bbell that is furious. I was disgusted. There is an large difference. It seems to me that you either cannot or will not read or do not know what hypocrisy is.

  68. El Oso,
    My comment wasn’t meant as a criticism, and I apologize if it was taken as such. It was meant as an observation – that the results of local and regional leaders’ decisions about conference speakers will and does produce widely varying results as to the gender mix. Your answer, while indicating great hope for your stake, tells us a couple of things: first, that it does appear to be a local or semi-local decision (stake-level or at broadest, area-level, unless a GA is involved in the conference); and second, that it’s going to be different from place to place, since others have expressed a very different result. (I would add that a change of leadership may well change the outcome in your stake, as it has several times in mine, where I have lived for 30 years and five stake presidents.)

    My comment about inattentiveness was not aimed at you specifically. I think many men in the Church could go for years without noticing the disparity in ward, stake, or general conferences. I would probably have been one of them until a few years ago. And I’m not at all sure what your proximity to Utah has to do with anything, except that I assume that the Wasatch Front Crazy Effect falls off as the inverse of the square of the distance – that seems to be a universal law. We don’t use much NuSkin out here in God’s Country.

  69. Jared vdH says:

    JR,

    In your comment you were attempting to recast discrimination as a “misperception or misunderstanding”. You never suggested that the men who do these things did anything wrong, but instead insist on putting the burden back onto the discriminated to “train a few local leaders not to articulate the unhelpful judgments”. How is a woman whose input is already being disregarded and gaslighted supposed to “train a few local leaders”? Sure, you may have never made unhelpful comments nor said you approved of them, but you certainly haven’t have gotten nearly as “disgusted” about a lifetime of discrimination as you did about a couple comments about bbell. So yes, that is hypocrisy.

    Sorry I used “furious” instead of “disgusted”. The hypocrisy is the same.

  70. I did not recast discrimination as misperception or misunderstanding. I did assert that I have sometimes seen misperception or misunderstanding at the base of similar anger. You are continuing to argue against a straw man, not me and not what I wrote. You have no idea whether I have been as disgusted or angry as others about the discrimination. I chose not to address that as others have demonstrated such anger quite adequately, but I hadn’t seen anyone commenting on the misreading.

    I also said nothing about who might be able to train a few local leaders; I did not put that burden on those discriminated against. Disregarded and gaslighted women are not going to be able to train disregarding and gaslighting local leaders directly, though they might be able to help train some how make the offensive comments unthinkingly. It seems far more likely that they could assist their allies (whether male or females who do not feel discriminated against) with suggestions as to what kinds of responses from such leaders might be less offensive and more helpful. For any such “training” to occur (which I have been partially successful with in the cases of a couple of bishops), it has to be short of the fundamental change in the system (called for, but out of reach of even the most willing bishop) and usually has to short of a fundamental change in the bishop’s way of seeing things. At least in my limited experience, even a tiny step in the right direction is better than none and is more likely when suggestions are not in the form of venting anger.

    I’m now ready to adopt christiankimball’s suggestion in another thread (paraphrased, but I hope not distorted) that paragraphs of explanation are useless because they will either be misunderstood or ignored.

  71. some “who” not “how” make the offensive comments unthinkingly.

    Sorry.

  72. Jared vdH says:

    JR,

    The question you asked was, “Is there a way to help someone channel the anger you refer to into something positive?” Your suggestion in your follow-up comment was “The point is that if my question can be answered it may be possible to train a few local leaders not to articulate the unhelpful judgments, to do something else instead.”

    Can you at least see how that can be interpreted to you suggesting that a way for women to channel the anger into something positive is for them to train a few local leaders?

    I’m not trying to willfully misread you, but you seem to be missing the implications of your own words.

  73. Jared vdH says:

    Can you also see how when you express your disgust in a one-sided manner, only expressing it in relation to others comments directed towards bbell, can cause it to be conspicuous in it’s absence with regard to the actual topic of the OP?

  74. Folks,
    I enjoy arguing about arguing as much as the next guy (see above), but if that’s all we’re gonna do we might as well wrap this sucker up. Can we table what does and doesn’t constitute an appropriate response to an argument and instead argue about something related tot the OP?

  75. Jared vdH says:

    John C., my apologies for getting off topic.

    Speaking only for myself I have tried and continue to try to see past my own “male innocence” to see when I am either taking advantage of opportunities that are only afforded me because I am male, or I am witness to women who are restricted in their opportunity due to their lack of privilege. I’m not perfect at it, but I am doing my best to continually improve.

    In addition I have largely decided to model my responses to these thing on that of Samuel’s – I can do my best to hearken to the voice of the Lord on my own, tell my leaders when I believe they are in the wrong, and then stand back and wait and see if they will repent of the wrong. Since I have little to no power in the Church, if they don’t I can only leave it in the hands of the Lord to do to them as he did to Eli. Beyond that I agree with your last paragraph that my duty is to mourn with those that mourn and seek to comfort those who are in need of comfort, which I have spent a lot of time doing for the women in my family at least.

  76. Jared vdH, while I know that you weren’t looking for any appreciation, I still wanted to thank you for your efforts on behalf of women. Because I appreciate it so much when men are true allies in the goal of gender equality, I try to be the same for my LGBTQ and non-white brothers and sisters. I agree with what EBK said earlier, that she learned to recognize her own white privilege after experiencing first-hand the negative effects of male privilege. It takes a lot of fearless self honesty to recognize your own privilege. It also requires really listening to people who bear the heaviest brunt of discrimination, and to listen without trying to discount, minimize, or ameliorate their experiences. Even if we can’t bring about big changes in the church or government, we can create supportive spaces where people who have to deal with discrimination can feel understood and validated.

  77. On the relevance of the unnoticed surge in white deaths:

    That so many white deaths have gone virtually unnoticed [!] until recently suggests a systematic media and cultural bias in the North at least against humble, unprivileged white men and women in the South and elsewhere. As a Northerner I once harbored a prejudice against Southerners, but when I began to travel to the South on business, I discovered that the old stereotypes are currently neither accurate nor helpful.