Transcript: Mormon Women’s Whiplash

This transcript of the first episode of the Third Hour podcast has been lightly edited for length and clarity. You can read more about how the podcast got started and listen to the audio here.

Richelle: Joining me today are Natalie Brown in Boulder, Colorado; Carolyn homer in Washington, DC; and Emily Butler in Cleveland, Ohio. Welcome, friends. So Natalie, let’s start with you. I’d like to jump right into your whiplash post. What inspired you to write and share it?

Natalie: So someone I’m close to sent me a news article about the new General Relief Society President, Camille N. Johnson, and pointed out that she had practiced for thirty years as a lawyer and was the president of her law firm. I know that this person sent me this article in order to make me feel better and to point to the progressive options that women increasingly have in the Church because I have been experiencing a lot of angst about what to do in terms of a career since mine has not gone quite as I planned, or as I had hoped for. But rather than making me feel happy or optimistic, it actually made me feel angry and overwhelmed and frustrated. I had reactions ranging from, “Well, why didn’t you support me like ten, twenty years ago when I was making these decisions?” And to be clear, the person who sent me this article has supported me in very many ways, but there are also many encounters I’ve had in the Church that have been less supportive of women’s careers. And at the same time, I wanted to scream because I’m now a caregiver who had to like, teach her children remotely during the pandemic. It’s like, “Well, are you saying that caregiving then isn’t enough to be a Relief Society president, that actually we do care about all those skills you learn on the job?” And so I felt that the caregiving that I’m now doing that is perfectly on-script with what a Mormon woman is supposed to do is still undervalued and unpaid, and that those skills are not recognized. So I felt a lot of whiplash and mixed emotions.

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Third Hour, Episode 1: Mormon Women’s Whiplash

Welcome to Third Hour, a new podcast from By Common Consent!

The idea for this podcast blossomed during a very lively discussion on a Facebook post from former BCC permablogger Natalie Brown. She wrote:

I struggle with how the LDS Church tends to promote to leadership roles or feature in campaigns women who hold / held prominent professional roles rather than followed the endless prescriptive, prophetic advice to stay home. (Remember, for example, the role play in the YW’s manual in which a talented female scientist practiced saying no to her career so that she could raise kids?) To be sure, I disliked that advice myself, but to this day I feel unable to pursue anything without dealing with layers of guilt and mixed-messaging from those closest to me. Indeed, I feel a great deal of paralysis when attempting to plan a life for myself. And so I find this institutional whiplash hard. Like, WHY saddle so many women like me with these lifelong feelings if it turns out that the Church didn’t really mean it? Or, conversely, why not promote and highlight more caregivers if the Church really feels that’s what has most value? Long, complicated topics . . .

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Worst Mormon Date Ever

Maybe if I had brought a cooler that would have been even more awkward.

I just finished reading Brian Donovan’s book Not a Match: My True Tales of Online Dating Disasters. My oldest son starts college in the fall, so I have been feeling nostalgic about my own dating days as a Cougar.[1] What makes a bad Mormon date bad? The same thing that makes any date bad: awkwardness. This is my story.

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