The Foot Shelf

About ten years ago, we were renovating our master bathroom, making the shower larger with a stone surround, and adding a big sunken garden tub (that literally has been used TWICE since we put it in, grrrr). As we discussed the options with the builder, he quoted a set amount to add a “bench” to the shower.

My husband, looking to save money perhaps, quickly said, “We don’t really need that. When do I ever sit in the shower?”

I interrupted to explain. “That’s not for sitting. I need a place to rest my foot when I shave my legs. It’s a foot shelf!”

It had never occurred to him that we might have different needs and uses for features in our shower until I educated him about it. Trying to balance on one foot to shave my other leg or to hold on to a one inch overhang with my toes to keep in place was, up to that point, a frequent frustration, one that he was completely unaware existed.

I have sometimes thought back to that incident and wondered about what would have happened if he had renovated the bathroom as a surprise for me. That would have been a nice gesture, but it would have resulted in a shower that met his needs much better than my own, a shower that would cause me inconvenience and frustration for years to come while he remained blissfully unaware of my plight. If I had then complained, he’d feel put out. Why was I being so ungrateful when he had been thoughtful and given me this gift?

That’s sometimes how it feels being in a church where all the decisions are made by men with very limited female input. I’m sure it’s also how other underrepresented groups (like singles, people of color and LGBT people) feel in the church. Without input from these folks, why would anything change unless it’s an inconvenience or a frustration to those devising the policies and solutions? Nobody is seeking to inconvenience us. They are probably trying to make improvements. But they don’t understand our needs, and often it never occurs that anyone’s needs might be different from their own.

How do we remedy this problem? It’s not easy, particularly because people in power often believe that they deserve those positions so their ideas are all gold, better than the ideas of those not in power. Our dialogue about positions of leadership or power within the Church often talk about respect for the role or mantle, but less about what those who hold those positions owe to the humans in their purview who are directly impacted by their actions. Additionally, the dearth of female input is a historical world problem with plenty of precedent. We humans have a long track record of disbelieving women and not listening to them when they share issues. Women are characterized as nags or scolds when we voice concerns.

Church leaders counsel women to speak up (but only nicely and not too much) and to avoid hectoring their husbands with complaints. Advice given to men is to cherish and praise their wives, but without an emphasis on listening to women and heeding their counsel. Women have literally been told to hearken to their husbands while the reverse is not true. No wonder women’s needs are so poorly understood. “Good” women suffer in silence rather than explaining their needs if those needs aren’t being met. That’s how we got where we are, and I can’t see that anything has systemically changed. Even without giving women the priesthood, it would be great if women were given equal voice in every decision-making council.

Two stories that have been shared by leaders in the last few years come to mind that I found mind-boggling at the time. Elder Christofferson shared a story about his mother who had a lot of physical pain when she ironed clothing due to a radical cancer surgery. His father saved money by skipping lunches for a year and surprised her by buying an ironing machine that would make it so she didn’t have such a painful time ironing. Now, the way he tells it, and perhaps the way it happened (the past is a foreign country after all), his mother was afraid they couldn’t afford it and just so, so grateful for how thoughtful the gift was. When I heard the story, all I could think was that she ironed in pain for an entire year while he quietly went without eating lunches. Why didn’t he or their kids just do the ironing?? Why was this plan in secret? Why didn’t they have a conversation about how to better solve this problem? The talk is titled “Let Us Be Men,” and that about sums it up for me. [1]

The other story that was shared in a BYU address by Elder Bednar called Quick to Observe. He talked about a young man who had returned from his mission and was dating a woman when Pres. Hinckley counseled women to only wear one earring in each ear. He waited passive-aggressively and watched to see if she would remove her second earrings, and when she didn’t, he dumped her! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: that girl dodged a bullet. But somehow in his story, this passive-aggressive kid who can’t be bothered to have a conversation with a girl he supposedly loves enough to marry is in the right, and she’s not worth his time because she doesn’t remove a second pair of earrings. [2] I will grant this, they were clearly not a compatible pair, and marriages with so little willingness to communicate are unlikely to last anyway.

The one thing these two stories have in common is the utter lack of communication between the men and women who are in a potential life partnership, and the unstated but obvious assumption that the men are right and their decisions correct despite the total lack of female input. That’s not partnership or grounds for a solid marriage, at least not in my book.

Just last week I was talking to my oldest son who just bought a house and is talking about renovating his shower. He said he really wants to get one of those cool rain shower heads that you stand under. “Noooo!” I said. “Don’t do it! Women don’t want to get our hair wet every time we shower!” And so the cycle continues.

  • How do you think we can improve the Church’s understanding of women’s (and other non-leaders’) needs?
  • What’s behind this lack of understanding? Is it due to assumptions of prior generations? Over-confidence in leaders’ discernment? Women not speaking up enough? Lack of representation?
  • What gaps between policy or practice and your needs have you experienced? Have these things been minor inconveniences (like foot shelves) or bigger issues? Do minor things rankle more as time goes on?

Discuss.

[1] I recognize two things about this story that are important caveats: 1) the past is a foreign country with different rules and culture that are often incomprehensible to us today, and 2) family stories take on a life of their own and have morals we don’t question. We aren’t very critical of those stories or their lessons, assuming that the meaning we have been told they have from a young age is the meaning they have. With my contemporary perspective, I see this story very differently, but I recognize that I’m also a product of my own time. (Not that I’m any spring chicken, but I didn’t come of age during the Great Depression like E. Christofferson’s parents likely did).

[2] arbitrary prophetic advice if ever I’ve heard it.

 

Comments

  1. I remember a powerful lesson I learned at a seminar a few years back. The presenter talked about how we all wear lenses and they actively shape the way we view and interact with the world around us.
    – We have active lenses we wear most of the time – for me, I am a father, a male, a Christian.
    – We have passive lenses which we don’t wear all of the time, but when we wear them they are real and authentic – for me, I am an American, and on the 4th of July or September 11 I can wear those lenses and feel the feels. But it is not a lens I actively wear most of the time.
    – And then there are lenses we do not have – for example I am not African American, or a woman. Those are lenses I can seek to understand, but they are not mine.

    I have thought a lot about how this plays out in the church context. To me it seems the biggest issue is one of representation among leadership. The more diverse lenses you have represented in the governing and deciding counsels of the church, the better the outcome for everyone. Only then can you fully bring all truth into one great whole. But as long as, for example, stake counsels consist of 18 men and 3 women, I think we’ll fall short of the full potential of the church.

    Also – I don’t think it’s coincidental that some of the significant changes we are seeing now in the church (e.g. 1 hour primary) came just a few years after the General Auxiliary presidents were added to the senior counsels of the church and their lenses were more consistently shared and heard by the apostles they sat next to.

  2. I think your point is valid that we miss out on input from all kinds of experience, but keep in mind that church leaders have in fact literally counseled men to “listen to your wife”. We are always missing out on something. Replace all the male bishops with female ones (or go 50/50) and it’s not clear there’s a net gain in benefit. You’ll lose somethings and gain others.

    But differentiating at the level of “woman” is woefully inadequate. What about women who are mothers? What about women who are mothers of children who are mothers? What about women who are mothers of children who are mothers of children who have gone astray? What about women who are mothers of children who are mothers of children who have gone astray and returned? What about women who are mothers of children who are mothers of children of a mixed race marriage who have gone astray and returned? Add working mothers into that variable. Home schooling mothers. Mothers who are electricians or mechanics in male dominated fields. Mothers who are nurses or teachers.

    This is not a game. It’s reality because all of our experiences are so unique and we all have the potential to bring so much to the table.

    My wife loves the rain shower heads, by the way. So please don’t speak for “women”, but rather, yourself and those who might agree with you. Some others might not like those heads because they are often too low pressure. And I love having a bench in the shower and would gladly pay for it and sacrifice the tub. My wife would much rather have the tub and just get one of those $10 wall mount folding foot steps. But she hardly shaves her legs anyway, so there again you’re speaking for a portion of the group while assuming the whole.

    I literally “listen to” my wife share stores about women she works with in the church who as a result of their experiences don’t grasp a certain issue or possibility and hold back many others under their stewardship — and yet the service of both is welcomed for how it benefits others and enables self-improvement in the process.

    Just grasping a gender or identity cohort is terrible decision making. Expanding the terrible decision making to think we now need representation for quasi-gender-identity-isms lest we forget about their perspective is equally terrible.

    All that being said the shift to ward councils and the removal of high priest groups in the ward means that Relief Society, Primary, and Young Women have their voices heard pretty well.

    You asked 3 questions. Here’s the answers:
    1. Get to know those who you are called to serve and truly magnify your calling in doing so. Think about how much effort you put into things that are important to you, and do that from a spiritual, mental, and physical preparation effort for your calling.

    2. The main reason why they haven’t been such a large part throughout history I think is much more ho-hum bio-technical and less sexist than imagined* — although nature is certainly the ultimate sexist. It’s taken 50 years or so to overturn 10,000+ years of cultural practice based on the necessity of nature and technological limitation that by and led to men and women adopting different roles. *though various sexist arguments get internalized as justifications for exclusions based on bio-technical limitations of the day — individual circumstances notwithstanding.

    3. The biggest gaps I’ve experienced are with those who have seen or experienced real soul & family crushing sin, abuse, neglect and so on. Those who don’t really take into account the seriousness of sin and the fallen world we’re in that really beats many of us down and simply assume the best and all is well in others, when there are really a lot of people out there drowning and neither they nor many of us know what to do to help them. Genders and identities are definitely linked to this, but to the extent they get group-politicized it doesn’t help. Talk about and serve individual people in your callings and councils. Not general groups.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Great post, Angela. I think garments might be an example where the church (eventually$ figured out women’s bodies are different from men’s bodies and they may have different needs with respect to garments than men do. So they have made significant efforts to get feedback from women, something that did’r used to happen.

  4. Marvelous insight here. Thanks, Angela.

  5. jaxjensen says:

    How can the understanding of women’s needs improve in the church? Well, it’s a running joke among all people (not just in the church) that the man who says he understands women is either a liar or a fool. So men aren’t going to do it… not well. If you want the organization to better serve women, you need women’s input. But you knew that already.

    What’s behind the lack of understanding? The fact that it is a common state of being among genders, races, generations, cultures, and individuals. A truly full understanding among individuals is rare, let alone among large groups of people.

    My experience? People, especially church leaders, do try to their best to communicate fully with others on important topics. They do their best, but there are gaps because of faults in human nature. And IMO, everytime you try to fill the gap, another one opens up somewhere else.

  6. nobody, really says:

    We’ve done away with PEC meetings – Priesthood Executive Committee. My branch has started going through a different section of Handbook 2 at each branch council meeting. The first one we covered was from 4.6.1. “The bishop seeks input from Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary leaders in all matters considered by the ward council. The viewpoint of women is sometimes different from that of men, and it adds essential perspective to understanding and responding to members’ needs.”

    So, women can speak up, but male leaders need to specifically ask, then listen, and even consider, what sisters have to say. We had a situation just yesterday where the Relief Society advised us to cut a check for somebody. Because we’ve previously told the Relief Society presidency that they are the gatekeepers over those funds, we cut the check. If it had been up to the men, we would have said no.

  7. Excellent post, Angela. Hope you have the time and energy for the naysayers. They’re wrong, but it takes a lot to try and convince them of it.

  8. One of my great frustrations when I started dating my husband was when he would say, “But I thought that women liked (blank)!” He often assumed that all women had the same opinions or tastes, and throughout the years I have had to educate him over and over that he needs to actually communicate with women as individuals to find out what we want or need, because it differs from person to person.

    I suspect that something similar is going on with the GAs. They are all married, and many of them have daughters, so they are probably somewhat aware of THOSE women’s opinions or tastes. But that’s not going to give them an expansive view of what’s going on with all of the women in the Church. Councils with multiple women from diverse backgrounds are essential if we really want to address the issues facing the diversity of our membership.

  9. Amen, Autumn. Six or seven years ago I sat in a focus group (I guess that is what you would call it) where we discussed garments for women. Apparently they came in prepared to talk about tweaking cuts and patterns. I started to talk about menstruation, staining and various hygiene products and the need to replace garment bottoms on a regular basis. I thought the brothers who were collecting the information were going to faint. One said that he didn’t even know how he was going to describe the issue. You could tell that they and their wives had never had these conversations because it was like a deer in headlights. One sister started talking about “heavy flows” and they cut off the conversation about garment bottoms. Another sister started talking about mastectomies and how uncomfortable and self conscious she felt in a top designed for women with two breasts and the brothers seemed shocked that just within this group of sisters there were 2 who had this issue. I appreciated that they were trying to collect information for the decision makers, but I was left wondering why the decision makers about my undergarments were men.

  10. The only solution to this problem is to make women equal to men in the Church in every way that matters. Period.

  11. Jack Hughes says:

    The nursing room is another example. In my ward meetinghouse (standardized Church building design, <10 years old), which is also a stake center, the nursing room is a glorified closet with a couch in it. At maximum, it could probably accommodate four women and their respective babies, but even that is a squeeze. With three wards sharing this building, and an increase in breastfeeding from prior generations, women often wait in line to nurse their babies at Church, or simply do it in public view. My wife complained constantly about the lack of accommodation when our children were in that stage, but she also had no reservations about nursing uncovered in public when it needed to be done. But in those cases, she never got an unkind word or sideways glance from anyone, anywhere (restaurants, airports, public parks, etc.)–except at church. I remember hearing about a woman in Utah last year who got her temple recommend taken away for breastfeeding in the chapel foyer. I'm glad to hear that women are more frequently being included in important decisions, but unfortunately men still have the final say–especially older men who's view of what is appropriate in polite society was cemented at least half a century ago.

    The only reason the nursing room problem even entered my awareness is because I listened to my wife.

  12. Franklin – trouble is the varying definitions of “every way that matters”. Some people think there’s full equality in ever way that matters now, and always has been.

  13. Struggling greatly with this as I prepare for my son’s baptism this weekend, and we’re finding it difficult to find just 2 witnesses, since no family is coming from out of town, and honestly we don’t have a large number of close friends that aren’t out of town that weekend. I’m constantly biting my tongue instead of reminding everyone how much easier this would all go down if I and my daughters could simply use our functioning eyes to confirm that he went under all the way. But no, only a man can do that. One other thought, I would encourage your son to talk to his wife about the shower. I personally would love that kind of shower head, and I take a bath if I don’t want to get my hair wet. Just further encouragement to communicate everything.

  14. So my bathing preferences are, always to get my hair wet in the shower, and to take a bath when ridding myself of body hair….
    On the broader issue, we need as many views as possible, and a lot more discussion about how women are diverse.. I was present in a painful RS lesson yesterday, in which two of us tried to argue that we really can’t make blanket statements about women (this was E. Cook’s recent conference talk where he quotes from Pres Nelson’s address at the sisters conference the previous October), and some women insisted nevertheless on making and insisting those blanket statements must be so, because the prophet said so essentially…
    It wasn’t good for my blood pressure!

  15. The earring story always gets me. Mostly, how we praise the young man who very quickly judged another on appearances and outward shows of religiosity. Exactly what the Savior warned us NOT to do.
    It is very difficult, operating in a culture like that, to acknowledge ANY input from ANYONE that does not meet the lense through which we reward members for looking through.

  16. RachelWins says:

    While I passionately support the increase of women in positions of authority in the church, I’m not convinced it will have the effect most believe it will.

    My lived experience has been that women are more likely to be strict adherents to rule following and “sustaining our leaders” and men are more likely to think outside the box and think of the rules as guidelines. As an example my FIL tried to get our stake to do a high adventure for the YW and the stake YW Presidency shot it down because they felt it was too hard to find female adult leaders to go. Because older sisters are physically unable or uninterested and younger sisters have small children. There are obvious solutions to that problem that we are accustomed to using with the YM but this is just one example of the man in the room being willing to make something happen for the YW and the women in the room turning it down. I’ve had other experiences in presidencies with women who felt the need to strictly adhere to the status quo.

    Secondly for me personally as someone with a type Z personality sometimes I feel like the church is completely run by overachieving perfectionists at every level from RS President to Prophet. While I would benefit from more women in leadership, I think I would benefit more from leaders that understood what it’s like to feel so overwhelmed by simply surviving.

  17. “…in a church where *all* the decisions are made by men with *very limited* female input” [emphasis mine] – This is an overly broad claim. I’m not familiar with this awful church.

    “…*they* don’t understand our needs, and often it *never* occurs that *anyone’s* needs might be different from *their* own” [emphasis mine] – This is another overly broad statement, with a divisive “us vs. them” juxtaposition. And again, I don’t recognize this group of horrible people.

    “…people in power often believe that they deserve those positions so their ideas are all gold” – One more overly broad and slightly scary claim. With very rare exception, the church leaders in my area are the exact opposite of this. Most of them are selfless servant-leaders who are the first to show up and the last to leave, even though they didn’t ask for the job and sure didn’t want it.

    I don’t know about your corner of the church, but the ward and stake council meetings here in the good old Midwest include lots of women, and lots of input from those women (based on my own experience and that of my wife). In addition, the men in those councils have lots of daughters, sisters, and wives (but not sister wives) whose voices they listen to, whose needs they consider, and who they often speak for and champion.

    As one example, a bishopric member this year organized a YW high adventure trip because he has two teenage girls. The rest of the YW and their moms (and dads, including me) in the ward shouted a collective “yes!”

    I agree with the general theme of this post: we need to consider others’ needs and ask for their input before making decisions that might affect them. But it made me cringe to read the broad, divisive statements that seemed to carpet-bomb “the men” in the church for their apparently willful ignorance and selfish sense of entitlement. That doesn’t describe me or pretty much anyone else I know in ward, stake, area, or general leadership positions.

    In other words, please don’t judge us; we were born this way. And some of us might have more insight than the above comments seem to give us credit for. Thanks for listening.

  18. Jonovitch, women may be included in the council meetings, and men may listen to their wives and daughters, but that almost underscores the fundamental problem: men make the ultimate decisions, and those decisions include women’s concerns only to the extent (a) women have spoken, (b) decision-making men have listened to the women, (c) decision-making men have decided that the women’s concerns are valid, and (d) decision-making men implement something that actually addresses the concerns.

    That’s a lot of steps to go through, and it puts all kinds of implicit onuses on people. By contrast, if I’m a decision-making man, I know what feels comfortable and uncomfortable. I don’t have to speak, and I don’t have to listen, and I don’t have to judge the validity of something I don’t experience. I can just directly address the problem. If women were also in decision-making roles (by which I mean, roles where they can do something without having to have it approved by a man) in the church, women’s concerns would face the single level of decision-making that men’s concerns currently do. (And yes, I get that there is diversity in men’s and women’s experiences, but there is also similarity.)

  19. Thanks for this Angela C. I have long marveled at just how out-of-touch the ironing story was. I, too, simply could not understand why the act of service by the husband wasn’t just taking care of the ironing himself, or at least convincing his wife that she didn’t need to iron and that some wrinkles were OK. The Quick to Observe story comes off as very austere and pharisaic, as if determining someone’s worth comes down to not general character traits and big-picture issues, but trivial minutiae. In the talk I remember Elder Bednar trying to emphasize how his story wasn’t about the earrings. But it was. I simply can’t see how it couldn’t be. That was the ultimate reason why the man decided not to marry the woman. And it was the main reason that Elder Bednar praised the young man. Yes, that woman really did dodge a huge bullet.

  20. I have to agree with the complaints about the earring story. It always struck me as one more instance of teaching the Young Men they need to judge the Young Women, something too many of them need no encouragement to pursue. I found it particularly galling when contrasted with one of the women’s leaders (which organization I cannot recall) then giving the Young Women advice that they should not necessarily terminate a relationship with a young man struggling with pornography. Which problem is more likely to destroy a marriage? But I cut Elder Bednar some slack. One truly bad talk is something that any of us could make. And perhaps he was unaware the permissions he was granting the Young Men. Sort of like men of my generation who could not get a date if they weren’t returned missionaries. Perhaps we need a general conference talk directed at the Young Women, telling them every young man is obligated to serve a mission. Drop your boyfriend if he has not served!
    I have real reservations with the idea that women only need a voice. We need a vote at the table, not just a voice. I realize someone needs to make the final decision. I appreciate that the male leaders are sincerely attempting to meet women’s needs and concerns. That is a big change that has taken place in my lifetime. But it is not enough. As a woman now in my 60’s, who could see this need over 50 years ago, I am extremely disheartened to realize we still need to have this conversation. And I am horrified by the number of divorced men I know, whose eternal families were destroyed because they literally thought they got to make decisions for their families. By the time their wives reclaimed their agency, the resentment and anger could not be overcome. What can the leaders who taught such falsehoods ever do to make things right? The only thing I can imagine is that they will need to lose their eternal families for teaching the traditions of men, which the D&C strongly warned them against.
    Tell the woman who lost her temple recommend to move to northern California. Oakland 1st Ward has a woman who nurses in sacrament meeting,. No foyer for her! Of course, she also thinks it unnecessary to wear shoes or socks, so maybe the ward is too lenient.

  21. Jonovitch: Just to clarify, when I said “people in power” behave a certain way, that was a general observation, not just within the Church. It’s human nature, and it’s something plainly observed in politics, in corporate culture, and yes, even in the Church. Not *everyone* in power has overconfidence in their own independent judgment, but it is certainly a common trait. If only women ran meetings, we would see them possess this same over-confidence. As a former business executive, I recognize that there were times when I too had over-confidence in my ability to solve problems or in my understanding of client, consumer or employee needs.

    And yes, there are “leaders” who set policies and people who aren’t leaders who have to live with those policies. You can call it an “us” vs. “them,” but I’m not eligible to be one of “them” and most of you reading this are not going to be a “them.” We can only be an “us.”

    10x: The stories I shared about the specific shower conversations are just that. I know lots of women have different preferences. When it comes to my own shower, my preferences matter. My son should ask his girlfriend about the shower head. She might like a rainfall shower. I don’t. There’s also the question of resale value (the only reason we put that tub in that we don’t use). The point is definitely NOT that all women like things one way and men another. It’s that without sufficient input, we don’t know all the variations of needs.

    Someone above mentioned garment design, which BTW is still not great for women despite all the improvements! Let’s not consider that one solved, please! There are differences of climate that cause issues, and women’s bodies change much more drastically than men’s do throughout our lives due to menstruation, pregnancy, breast-feeding, how weight gain changes, menopause, etc. There is literally no garment design that can cover the ongoing changes to an individual woman’s body over time. There’s a reason the women’s underwear section at the store is five times the size of the men’s. It’s much more complicated.

  22. Sam, well said. The heart of the matter.

    Angela, thank you for this post. Women’s reluctance to speak up, and/or to even see the problem in the first place seem to be the biggest obstacles to progress.

  23. Phenomemal post! One of the best, most accessible ways I have heard these problems described. Thank you for the foot shelf paradigm!!! I will use this post as reference many times in the future, I am sure.

  24. The foot shelf is a great example, but for the limited problem of women being listened to on women’s issues. As some commenters have said, there is already advice to that effect and woke men do it already.

    But the next level concern is about women being listened to on matters where men think they know, or that concern men. My example there is a friend of mine (a woman) with very clear opinions and good reasons about the placement of urinals in a men’s toilet. (It happens that they are derived from concerns about her son. But should that matter?)

    And beyond that, particularly relevant in religious communities, is the level of women being in charge, being the person who might or might not listen to all relevant constituencies.

    I sum up my opinions on these matters by hoping for an African American woman as my next LDS bishop. But we have a long way to go when the discussion starts at women being listened to about women’s concerns.

  25. Huh. I’m a woman and I just learned what that foot shelf thingie is for.

    I’m sure there’s a good analogy here, too. Not all women are even aware of the full space of possibilities?

  26. Latam girl says:

    To the woman who lost her recommend over nursing in sacrament meeting. Go to the stake president. Show him the picture in this story, of a woman breastfeeding in the tabernacle over 100 years ago. Demand the recommend back. Highlight that the problem isn’t the exposure of the breast…it’s the sexualization of it.

    http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2010/08/breastfeeding-history-moment-lds.html?m=1

  27. Love this post. My foot-shelf church problems: yes to the previous poster about the mother’s room. For my first baby it was tiny, two arm chairs, accessed through a bathroom, and with a locked thermostat. It was like a monument to terrible design.

    Also, after serving in nursery – our room is wholly inadequate to the task. Nursery rooms need a sink. We need water and paper towels and soap and preferably a little tiny toilet for the potty-trained. We need a closet where we can put the folding tables so the kids don’t pull them down on top of themselves (every week!) We need a vacuum!

  28. Paul'n Nancy Johannesson says:

    We are becoming a society of picky eaters. So-and-so doesn’t like eggs, another doesn’t like cheese, and yet another doesn’t like anything remotely spicy. And we want the world to cater to us. Sadly, it has filtered into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where we want constant change to satisfy our individual needs.

    At one time, the idea of eating Brussels sprouts was repugnant to me. It wasn’t public knowledge. Really, how often does one speak of Brussels sprouts? Then a couple from church invited us for dinner. As we entered their home, the smell of Brussels sprouts filled my senses. Then they announced that they just loved Brussels sprouts and we were having them two ways that night. Reaching deep within, I grabbed onto whatever tiny spec of grace I could find to cover my disappointment. Then I girded up my loins and joined in helping them prepare the odious vegetable. I was amazed that you could chop a sprout into individual, dainty, beautiful leaves that deep fried to a golden, crispy melt in your mouth goodness. And if you simmer whole, grilled sprouts with bacon and soy sauce, they take on those yummy flavors. Since that dinner, I have resolutely made Brussels sprouts many times in my own home.

    The true gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ is sweet and delicious. But unlike dinner at a restaurant, we don’t get to tell the chef to leave out the spice, or to add extra tomatoes to our salad. We accept it in its entirety, because it is His. He is our Savior and Redeemer and He knows every detail of what we need in this life. He knows that “Brussels sprouts” are good for us and if we trust Him and act in faith, we are blessed with greater knowledge, greater faith and greater confidence for our future.

  29. Paul&c – your analogy is absurd. It’s nice that you’re so Celestial that you love Brussels sprouts (though why only sprouts from Belguim I don’t know), but for the rest of us, the gospel is an invitation, not “suck it up cause it’s good for you, you just don’t appreciate it, you plebes”.

  30. Paul et al: Our Savior and Redeemer didn’t design the nursery, the mother’s room, or women’s garments, to name a few. But nice try.

  31. I believe brussel sprouts to be a gift from God, as far as they are slow-charred correctly.
    (Every other form of preparation is repugnant to me.)

  32. Paul n co.,

    How dare those cafeteria Mormons of the 1970s and before complain about the Brussels sprouts of the believed doctrine that blacks weren’t allowed to hold the priesthood. I mean LDS did eventually kind of admit (ya know without stopping to the embarrassment of having to say fully say they were wrong) that it wasn’t ever a doctrine even though leaders of the past repeatedly claimed that it was. Still, no one had any place to criticize or complain about that policy. That’s because when the prophet speaks the thinking is done. If you have a thought I your mind that goes against what the prophet is saying, even if it can only kind of be construed as maybe going against, then you best shut your brain right off. Better not to think that risk going to the Telestial Kingdom. Who do these so-called Mormon bloggers think they are? They should be constantly praising God for having a prophet instead of blathering on about lame stuff like women’s roles and equality and stuff. Sheesh!

  33. Just A Girl says:

    Laser hair removal is a wonderful, gender-neutral, shelf-free option worthy of investment.

    I cannot remember a time in my childhood that there was the thought “ I’m just a girl or when I grow up I want to be/am going to be a wife and mother”. I am both. I was also a missionary that was respected as “ one of the guys” because I didn’t “act like a whiny girl.” I guess that was a good thing?

    I didn’t think of church callings as gender based assignments, (setting aside VT, ugh! And not a calling per se). I had learned to ask for details of the assignment first. Usually the one asking didn’t have a clue. From that cue I learned not to plead for guidance from the bishop/SP on how to run a handbook based program. As far as leadership, I have been able to sit in meetings as an executive council member with a plan. Asking for goals and purposes to a confused group of mostly men was difficult. In most cases myself and my work was respected.

    Here’s the rub…when my husband was extended a calling , if I asked questions or voiced concerns I was usually dismissed, ignored and in some cases belittled for not being a supportive wife. I was once told by a SP “to leave my husband alone and let him do his church job”.
    Well, the SP got turned down but I sadly just walked away hurt and bewildered by the disrespect.

    Now I just say “ Uh no, I think I might be gender-neutral” smile and walk away.
    I no longer worry about my standing before the Lord.

  34. Wow! touched a nerve. Sorry to offend. I know that I am far from celestialized, but I’m trying. I have experienced very personal and painful sacrifices for my testimony. I cherish it and I defend it. It grieves me that so many saints think it’s okay to dabble their toes in the brook of Babylon so long as they have one foot firmly planted on gospel sod. Like king Agrippa to Paul, it’s as if you are saying, “Almost thou persuadest me to trust and support all the general authorities, except there’s that pesky talk by Elder Christofferson that just bugs me.” “Almost thou persuadest me to praise my leaders, but they don’t always know what is best for me.” When you almost live the gospel fully, you almost receive the blessings. I’m sure the adversary is pleased to fill your heads with many excuses as to why you are justified in doing this. When you read through the posts and comments, what spirit are you filled with? What spirit are you filled with you write vile comments?Communication is such a simple answer to what so many are arguing about. But it seems that many enjoy using this platform to complain about everything in the Gospel that doesn’t meet their needs. I need my Savior every moment of my life. Through His tender mercies I have overcome and grown from great trials. I am grateful for His precious Gospel. I love His chosen representatives here on earth. They are not perfect, His Gospel is.

  35. fromseedtoshade: I think you may be having a stroke. Your comment is long and nearly incomprehensible.

  36. Just A Girl says:

    Thanks Angela. A little clarity I guess. The SP was demanding a yes and threw a tantrum when I spoke up. My husband (31) at the time was working 60 hour weeks 3 of those days out of town. The calling was to go knock doors with the missionaries from 6 to 10 on the nights he was in town. I was very aware of what door knocking was from personal experience. Three small children, one with learning disabilities, one autistic and one a new born. 2 months after the “NO” to the SP my husband landed in emergency brain surgery. Did I mention I was the Primary President? Culpa Mia………..Personal revelation trumps Corporate revelation. Martha made sacrifices, Mary got it right. I wonder who made it!? Please take my place in line, I just can’t default my personal and family choices to Satan or Jesus.

  37. Just A Girl: my comment about clarity was directed at fromseedtoshade’s remarks, not yours. Sounds like your SP lacks emotional maturity.

  38. Just A Girl says:

    Sorry Angela my comment was meant for fromseedtoshade. BTW my toes are fabulous. I have dipped them in some of the most religiously significant waters of the world. Does some one know where I can find the waters of Mormon?

  39. I loved the Brussell sprout analogy.
    But I feel we are talking past each other now.
    Yes, we all have much to learn from each other. It helps to assume we do not have all the answers and to ask questions. The better the information, the better the choices we can make. And associating criticism with attacking priesthood leadership only ends up silencing people with valid concerns, or worse, driving them from the church. Too often church leaders have simply announced decisions without obtaining input. Then others have taken offense when the flaws became apparent and others wanted to discuss them.
    There is a story of Brigham Young and Heber C Kimball and a boat builder on the journey to Salt Lake. A ferry needed to be constructed. Brigham Young insisted the ferry be built his way despite the boat builder repeatedly telling him he was doing it wrong. The boat was launched and promptly sank. Brigham humbly turned to the boat builder and had him redo it the correct way. Heber C Kimball repeatedly razzed Brigham Young about it.
    Leaders make mistakes, especially when dealing with areas where they have no expertise, or like Brigham Young, some expertise in carpentry but not enough in this particular form of construction.
    Their and our mistake is in assuming they are always inspired. Their and our mistake is assuming they are never inspired. Can we find a better way?

  40. Just a side comment about the ironing story. At the time the story took place, fabrics were not wrinkle free and everything was ironed. It would have been unthinkable for a woman to let her family members leave the house in unironed clothes. People were taught how to pin clothes on the line to minimize wrinkles.
    You may not realize it but the pioneer women ironed clothes on the journey to Utah.
    The man was evidently responding in the best way he knew how within the customs and limitations of the time. To criticize the story is to miss the time frame in which it takes place.
    Now, of course, I work with people who wear unironed shirts missing front buttons and almost bedroom slippers and no one bats an eye. But times were different when I was younger.

  41. The trouble with the “brussels sprouts” analogy (aside from capitalization) is that it is talking down to those who are not so enlightened as to like them. We each grow at a different pace and in different ways, some even growing stronger never trying, liking, or knowing about those awful tiny cabbages.

    Wendy – every generation has many things that are “unthinkable” – think of the things your grandparents complained about of your generation when they were your age. Often we cling to “unthinkable” things that are stumbling blocks to ourselves and others, things that we’ve been told time and again get in the way of what is much, much more important. The scriptures that call out “more than raiment” , “cleanse the inner vessel”, and “what cometh out of a man” come to mind. That’s why the story would have been better to let go of the “unthinkable” rather than spend years in pain.

  42. Frank Pellett,
    Women of those generations took great pride in taking care of their families and keeping certain standards, which were the only protections they had available to fight disease. For us to criticize the choices they made because we are more enlightened is arrogant.

  43. You are young. When you are old and unsteady, the foot shelf will be a bench because you need to sit for the entire shower and can no longer stand up in a tub.
    So many differences in needs, depending on sex, age and life circumstances.

  44. Marie – I make no claims to enlightenment. I only know that I am physically unable to handle either an iron-right or much of a simple iron. Ironing clothes has nothing whatsoever to do with fighting disease and has no reason aside from appearance. Embracing and enabling pain in the service of appearance is worth the criticism, and always has been.

  45. Frank Pellett
    Ironing did fight disease since the heat killed germs. It still does. Which is why first aid classes always taught people to use a freely ironed handkerchief as a sterile cloth if no other was available.

  46. Wendy: “To criticize the story is to miss the time frame in which it takes place.” Please read the footnote. This is covered.

  47. Another Roy says:

    I agree that we need more diverse representation. Elder Bednar’s story was in particularly poor taste. He stated that many would take issue with his example and would write letter’s to the editor. Why then would he move forward with sharing the example that he knew was loaded with baggage and would be a distraction from his core message? Could he not alter the details for the sake of the talk to remove those objectional parts? Perhaps he could have told a fictional narrative or parable That the events in these stories happened is not a big deal. Lots of people do lots off things that I would not choose to do. But when the stories are held up as examples of ideals to be followed that is another story! (Yes, pun intended!) These stories reinforce sexism and gender roles.

  48. Reflecting on the argument about a foreign country past, it seems important that Elder Christofferson wasn’t speaking to that foreign country but in a General Priesthood meeting in 2006. And quite clearly set up the story as it was told as an example. His wrap up to the story: “There is a man.” He was telling millennial and post-millennial men to be like that.

    I don’t think the foreign country qualifier (although noted and recognized in the OP) excuses the story. To my ears, telling that ironing story as an example, to a 21st century audience, sounds as a reinforcement of benevolent patriarchy. That’s a problem.

    To be sure, I could probably make use of the story in an up-to-date presentation, but it would be surrounded by a dialectic about the past and the present and what we might do better now than in the past. I have seen not enough effort along those lines. Kudos to Angela and the OP.

  49. Another Roy says:

    “The young man was quick to observe that the young woman was not quick to observe” Really?!?!?

  50. Another Roy says:

    “The young man was quick to observe that the young woman wan not quick to observe.”
    Really?!?!?!

  51. Thank you Marie for bringing up the partial sterilization i.e. germ killing, history of ironing. Sometimes when I read posts here I feel like I am dealing with people whose understanding of the past is seriously stunted. I taught about ironing in first aid classes many years ago.
    And I was a woman who also took great pride in caring for a family and protecting their health. To criticize the talk is to demonstrate extreme historical ignorance.

  52. Not just historical ignorance. Historical arrogance. Perhaps a little humility would not be amiss for those who criticize the ironing story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.