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Men are Scumbags – Women, Not So Much

Lazy ManYesterday in Relief Society we had another you-women-are-so-awesome-do-not-be-hard-on-yourselves lesson, this one from the bishop. I wasn’t there, I just heard (positive, glowing) reports second hand. The intentions are good — and my bishop is a very good man. But when I get my nose out of joint for church inequities, I can’t ignore them when they go in my favor.

Men regularly get hammered for their bad behavior in church. Women get told they are super duper. I’m not sure if this is because:

  • Men (generally) excuse their sins and women (generally) beat themselves silly over theirs.
  • Men really are scumbags and women really are super duper.
  • Women can’t handle genuine criticism, so we get them to act by guilting them through excessive praise.
  • We use a “see how good we are to women” technique to assuage guilt and compensate for gender inequities.
  • Other?

During this meeting, a woman reported (from my second-hand, glowing report) that she no longer feels guilty that she gets up to get the kids off to school and then goes back to bed. And then naps later, too. This was roundly found to be an agreeable, positive attitude among the women discussing the lesson.

When I heard it, my first thought was that I would feel guilty if I did that. I would feel like I was being lazy and not “pulling my weight.” I would feel like I didn’t have enough productive things to do if I could send everyone else off to do a full day’s work, while I snoozed.

My second thought was that if a man slept in until late morning and then napped during the day, we’d never, ever applaud it. He’d be labeled a lazy bum.

I love men. I adore my husband. Although I’m bothered by gender inequities, I don’t think creating a double standard or mercilessly bashing men is the answer.

Do you see a double standard? Does it bother you?

{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Kristen February 28, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I feel that men don’t get applauded for what they do. There are many men and husbands out there that pull their weight and maybe more. While I would like to my husband to do more things around the house, he does go to work 10 hours a day 5 days a week, has meetings on sunday and then i want him spend time with our family on saturday. His question is when does he get time for himself? A very valid point. Men need to be given more credit for what they do. I don’t think he has ever had a lesson in church on what a great job he is doing as a husband and father, the lessons tend to focus more on what he can do to be a better husband and father. I don’t think we give men enough credit for the things they do.

  • Michael February 28, 2011, 2:19 pm

    Sadly, your post is so very true. However, I think it is reflective of the trend over the past 15 years to feminize Christianity to the point where most Christian churches (including ours) hold very little appeal for good men. The teachings have been feminized, the lessons have been feminized, the culture has bent over backwards to accommodate and support women to the exclusion of men, and even the artwork and music have become feminized (i.e. Simon Dewey and Liz Lemon Swindle paint the most feminine Jesus ever!). There is no longer a place for men to be men in LDS culture or, for that matter, in Christianity.

    We have come 180 degrees where the man / husband / father is expected to subordinate his personality, his need for masculine social interaction, and his longing for identity into that of the family / church. There is no place for a man to be a man. He has become an appendage to the life of the woman. Oh, I am not saying that patriarchy does not still exist in our church or that the Restored Gospel does not vest men with the ultimate authority, but gone are the days of yore when the Priesthood of the Restored Gospel provided a man with a firm pathway to bridle his excessive passions in a way that still provided an individual identity and personal dignity. Even the priesthood session of conference is no sanctuary for us to learn how to be men of Christ.

  • Proud Daughter of Eve February 28, 2011, 2:19 pm

    Keep individual circumstances in mind, too. Maybe that napping mother is pregnant or has a new little one. Or maybe she’s just always up late helping the kids with their homework.

    But I do feel that sometimes at church and definitely in the larger culture, men’s contributions get over-looked.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 1:59 pm

    Kristen, thank you so much for your response. I so agree. My husband works very hard and is a very good man. I hear women talk about “me time” all the time. (Especially when they can’t fathom homeschooling. heh heh) I rarely hear men talk about “me time,” especially LDS men. What’s good for the goose…and all that.

  • Michael February 28, 2011, 3:02 pm


    You ask for specific examples. When I was in the Elders’ Quorum Presidency we make a concerted effort over a period of 12 months to create an atmosphere for the brothers to really get to know one another in non-church situations. We arranged for a canoe trip and paintballing activities. We sought to have bowling nights or just a guys’ night out for something to eat. We even thought of starting some sort of “manrichment” nights. However, except for the canoe trip (where we had seven men show up with two older youths) there was no support from the Bishopic or from the Stake Presidency. We were told we did not have permission for the paintballing and that any activities that pulled the brethren away from their wives and children were not appropriate. Even when we were seeking to include the single brothers that normally have limited social interaction.

    The brothers of the quorum felt so uncomfortable just spending time with other guys doing activities that the women of the ward wouldn’t give a second thought to. Our lessons and the conference talks emphasize the patience, meekness, humility, kindness and docility of the Saviour that most men cannot relate when they seek to be courageous, strong, decisive or independent. It is OK for men to be angry or confident or aggressive (within limits of course).

    We get beaten over the head time and time again with a failure of duty when we are barely able to handle work and family let alone church duties and every other move in the ward boundaries. There is very little down time to socialize and re-affirm our masculinity. We are told we are addicted to pornography or lazy or selfish or not sufficiently helpful in raining the kids or doing enough housework. We are told to spend more time easing the burdens of the women to the exclusion of our own mental health.

    When was the last time you heard of a lesson in Gospel Doctrine on warfare strategy in the Book of Mormon or Old Testament? Or developing the courage of Samuel the Lamanite? Or the cultivating the righteous aggressiveness and confidence of St. Paul? To whom can we look for true masculinity? What does it mean to be a man in the Celestial Kingdom?

    I am not attempting to be patronizing or divert from your post but there is a serious problem in our society that “castrates” good men and causes the perversion of masculinity leading our young men to imitate a false form of manliness to prove themselves.

  • jks February 28, 2011, 3:05 pm

    That woman spent years being on call 24/7. Of course she feels guilty being “lazy.” However, when he husband and child come home is “on” to help them and be there for them. That is what they are used to.
    I’m a SAHM and my life is starting to to easier. But do you know what? I never get to leave the office like my husband does. I have only one during the day but the rest come home and from 3 pm to 10 pm I am working hard as mom and as wife. Same with weekends.
    It is tough to wonder about when my oldest is in school fulltime. I will have about 5-6 hours a day with no kids. But is it worth it to get a job for only $10 an hour?
    There is a cost to being a sahm. Part of that cost is lack of focus once you don’t need to do that work anymore. Other jobs you “retire” from with honor……..sahms turn into housewives however feel lazy even though when their husbands retire the husband feels entitled to retirement and the housewife probably does more work than her husband even if they renegotiate responsibilities.
    I know its a bit of a tangent, but there is more to that woman’s story to just whether we pat a woman on the back vs. kicking a man in the pants.

    As to that, I think women do so many invisible thing that patting them on the back is a way of acknowledging the invisible ways they contribute to their families and communities since many times there is no way to give actual compensation.

  • Lisa R February 28, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Huh. This is a topic that I’ve thought a lot about in the past few days. Funny how it pops up here, now. Please forgive my rambling, I’m on some pretty loopy pain meds but I shall try to get my point across.

    I think men get the short end of the stick and generally, I think married wives and homemakers have there priorities screwed up. I would go as far as to say that I find a distressing amount of women feel contempt for their husbands when their husbands try to carve out a bit of “me time” for themselves. I know this because I, until a recent and welcome epiphany, was one of them.

    In the past I have had membership on large LDS women only message boards. While dozens of the members would complain about their husbands (or ex-husbands) joining recreational sporting leagues, gaming during off-work hours or taking too much time away in fulfilling their priesthood directed church duties like home teaching or presidency responsibilities, these women would spend many hours a day lurking on the internet chat forums, spending a great deal of money shopping for unnecessary, costly items and planning GNO’s where they would go and gossip about their husbands and tut-tut over their man’s inadequacies.

    If many a woman doesn’t “feel” like providing a meal to her family on any given day, she feels entitled to shirking her duty to family in a pseudo-liberation rant of “I don’t have to do anything I don’t feel like!” and is applauded by her friends on Facebook or in gossip circles. If a man doesn’t “feel” like leading family prayer or in other family responsibilities, he’s labeled slothful and belittled. If a woman doesn’t want to clean her home and would rather craft the day away, more often than not- a man would be vilified for spending his day on a hobby when his wife expects him to tick off items on her Honey-Do list. I would think that both partners would deserve the reprimand for bad behaviors.

    It’s a clear double standard that is even applied to physical affection. More often than not, a woman shouldn’t “have” to share intimacy if she doesn’t feel like it and can be quite rude about it but if a man refuses when approached by his wife, he is accused of sending the message that she is undesirable and unloveable and a beast for being “mean”. I’ve seen the complaint so. many. times. from woman who do not see the unfairness of the situation they put their men in.

    I worry about the Pavlov’s dog analogy and if the society that is trying to uplift women is not in fact suppressing manhood and men, for men who enable bad behavior on the part of women are doing themselves and society no favors. I am doing my best to teach my daughters that women are to be held as accountable as men and to see equal respect for doing their duties- not elevated praise and adoration while casting the efforts of men by the wayside. I sincerely hope that there are mothers raising sons to see fairness and hard work as a mutual yoke in marriage. And I hope my girls can find those boys in the dating pool someday.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Proud Daughter of Eve, thanks for your comment.

    To be clear, I wasn’t speaking so much to the particular woman who made the comment — or even the particular behavior — but to the idea that women generally pat each other on the back for things men would be castigated for. Does that make sense? (In this case, she isn’t pregnant, and she has only one high school age child still at home. She said she’s done this for years and used to feel guilty but doesn’t anymore.)

    It really bothers me that we seem to be trying to make up for past grievances by turning on the men.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 2:38 pm

    Michael, very interesting comments. I’m not sure how much feminization I see in the lessons or the church as a whole. Do you have some specific examples to share? It’s certainly male dominated. But I agree they’ve bent over backward to support women — to the point that it’s uncomfortable to me.

    Hadn’t thought about the Jesus pictures. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a super macho one, they all seem to emphasize the gentle/loving aspect. I’ll look more closely from now on. There is one where he’s actually smiling, which I was almost relieved to see. The thought of an ever-somber Godhead just didn’t fit in my mind. Or maybe it’s that I couldn’t see myself ever fitting that role. I’m such a goof.

    I have to admit that my back bristles (just a bit) at the idea that there’s no place for men, because I still feel women are so excluded. But I’m really trying to sit back and be objective about it, because I’m sure it’s a side I don’t see as well.

    Do you have ideas for cultural/institutional changes that would help this problem?

  • Angie February 28, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Thanks Alison for the post. Lisa, I loved your comments as well. Lots to think about here and I’m enjoying all the dialogue.

  • Clark February 28, 2011, 4:13 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with Michael for various reasons, but you wrote:

    Of course, the women don’t really have many anymore, in lots of wards at least, but I don’t see a problem with such events.

    Don’t all wards at a minimum have a weekly homemaking meeting that takes at least an hour if not longer?

    As for the praising of women I suspect it’s a multipart incentive. There are remnants of the “women on a pedestal” thinking from the 60’s. Then there’s the societal recognition of abuse and the like so there’s a feeling one has to overcompensate (for better or worse). Then there’s the recognition I think most leadership have about the women who try to be perfect and get stressed out or depressed.

    Now I agree that these incentives can lead some leaders to go too far the other direction. I think we all need to be challenged to do better. But I tend to think most men just don’t get caught up in such things like women do. (At least judging by most Elders Quorums I’ve been in) I do think there are lots of double standards but I just don’t think it anywhere as bad as Michael does. Just as I don’t think the occasional guy who complains about having to work to be perfect (especially among ex-mormons) represents the masses much. It might just be the average leader has lots of experience with guys and tends to agree with me here but hears about the equivalent among women and doesn’t know how to judge it. It might also just reflect marriage dynamics within an older generation who tend to be the leaders.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 3:21 pm

    jks, you make some very good points. I’ve been a SAHM for over 23 years myself, so I do know about the on-call part you speak of, because kids need you “after hours” and babies may never sleep. 🙂 Thanks so much for your insights.

    Some of what you speak of is self-inflicted at least in part, don’t you think? If I work all day (and I do, I don’t go back to bed and I don’t watch TV or other such things) like my husband does, then we share the “burden” when we are both home. We both help the kids and we both try to relax a bit.

    That might not be typical, but I learned it from my dad. My dad worked as a BYU professor and my mom was a homemaker. When he came home, he changed out of his suit and came to the kitchen to make a salad and set the table. (And this was a man born in 1929.) He never sat down to read the paper — until my MOM could sit down, too. She worked all day, he worked all day. When he came home they worked together until they could both relax, together.

    I don’t really understand what you mean by “lack of focus once you don’t need to do that work anymore.” Do you mean that once kids are out of hte house, you don’t have as many demands from them? If so, that’s absolutely true, but solvable.

    When I graduated from college and quit work and had my first baby (all in a two-week timeframe), I had to learn how to manage the discretionary time. Yes, I had a lot to do, but *I* got to choose how, when, where to do it — and what to do in the down time. I decided to learn to program computers. 🙂 That’s certainly not for everyone, but I find having the freedom to set my own schedule is an amazing blessing, and luxury, and a great deal of good can come from that, if we choose.

    I don’t plan to sit around during retirement and neither does Sam. Thank goodness. Would drive me batty.

    My dad retired and became an emeritus professor. Then when that time limit hit, he taught at BYU for free for a number of years. Then he took a few years as a missionary at the Lindon cannery, until he could no longer lift the items. Now he’s learning to index. He doesn’t feel entitled to anything, maybe that’s why I’m not really familiar with that concept. 🙂 Too many great things to do to sit around. 🙂

    As to that, I think women do so many invisible thing that patting them on the back is a way of acknowledging the invisible ways they contribute to their families and communities since many times there is no way to give actual compensation.

    Let’s make them visible! No, they won’t get monetary compensation, but maybe it’s time women stopped being invisible in the things they do. 🙂 Tell us some of the things YOU do that you think aren’t noticed. Share. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 3:35 pm

    Michael, that’s a great example. If women have activities for women on occasion, men should, too. Of course, the women don’t really have many anymore, in lots of wards at least, but I don’t see a problem with such events. (Although how about some parity between scouts and activity day/YW???)

    We do have a sports program in our stake. Does yours? That’s at least a little guy time for my husband.

    Our lessons and the conference talks emphasize the patience, meekness, humility, kindness and docility of the Saviour that most men cannot relate when they seek to be courageous, strong, decisive or independent.

    I have to tell you that this isn’t just a problem for men! 🙂 I hope you read the post about being nice. Sometimes the submissive woman thing just makes me want to scream.

    When was the last time you heard of a lesson in Gospel Doctrine on warfare strategy in the Book of Mormon or Old Testament?…

    You ask a string of really good questions here. And I have no answer. Warfare strategies? The scriptures are full of them, so how does that align with the incessant need to “be nice” to even people who slaughter babies? I honestly don’t get it.

    You ask what it means to be a man in the Celestial Kingdom. It’s a great question. Hope you understand that it’s probably less obscure than what it means to be woman, though. Not that that helps either of us. How many women are even named in the scriptures? If I hear another lesson about Ruth or Esther I’m going to lose it. OK, I’m not. But we don’t get a lot of scriptural bandwidth and Heavenly Mother gets none.

    For the record, I don’t think you’re hijacking the post at all. This is central and you ask great questions.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Oh, holy cow, Lisa. I wish your comment had been the actual post. Bless you for speaking up. Yes, yes, yes. On every single paragraph.

    All I can say is thank you. Amen, sister!

  • jks February 28, 2011, 4:56 pm

    I do many great things and I have an appreciative family. When I talk to a young mother of little children I generally assume that she is doing many hard things (breastfeeding, up in the night, etc.) so I extend that pat on the back even if I don’t know for sure that she is doing them. Maybe she is a horrible mother of young children.
    When my husband talks to a father of young children, I think he doesn’t feel the same need. He is more likely to tell them that having a wife and kids is the greatest thing ever and he should be smart and not do anything to mess it up.
    Are we each speaking to our previous selves? Are we giving the verbal support that we think was the most helpful to our own self?

    As for my upcoming life changes (someday, the youngest is 3) I feel like for many years I was in urgent gear all day long. It seems odd to have that change. Also, if I work parenting 3pm -10pm. I need to relax a little during the earlier part of the day when I just have one kid so that I wont be too tired and stressed to handle my older children later. But it seems “lazy” to relax in the earlier part of the day, doesn’t it? But if it means I don’t have to go around confessing that I am impatient/irritated with my children and husband it seems worth it, doesn’t it?
    My husband is a very supportive partner and he helps with the dishes but there is so much about parenting that I keep track of and he has the luxury of not worrying about when the dentist appointment is or which orthodontist to choose and the homework or social skills development or reading level or whatever (he spends time at work worrying about his work responsibilities of course).
    Since I still have a 2 year old (yeah, I’ve been a mom long enough that just having one two year old home feels like I’m lazy) I am still trapped at home during the nap hours that are free.
    Is someone going to call me lazy if I don’t get a job when my kids are all in school? Because everything I will do on the weekends, non-school days and when they are home from 3-10pm isn’t enough work to be legitimate?
    Before I was a mom I would get 9 hours of sleep because that’s what my body needed. I don’t do that anymore. Maybe I could someday, but right now spending time with my family seems more important than going to bed early. If I could go back to bed after they went to school that might be a great way to get enough sleep. I figured out that starting in 1 1/2 years I will have kids going to early morning seminary for 14 years straight. 14 years of kids going to 6:15 am seminary!
    I don’t have enough information about this woman to know if she is lazy for sleeping during the day if she has only one teenage son.
    I wish you knew what I meant about lack of focus. I don’t know what kind of job I should think about getting. I don’t know if I should go back to school or not for it. I am not in urgent, busy mode but sometimes it is easier to clean the house, or you get more done, when you only have 30 minutes to do it rather than 3 hours and it doesn’t seem all that important because it is not like it stays clean for long anyway.

    Re: husband me-time. I never complain if my husband has me time. We both deserve me time. I am aware that he works at a job all day so I am considerate when he comes home. He is happy when I have me time too. We’re just nice to each other that way and neither of us takes advantage of it.

  • Darcee Yates February 28, 2011, 5:16 pm

    I don’t have a problem with hearing a message like this- “you-women-are-so-awesome-do-not-be-hard-on-yourselves lesson,” again, I need it.

    Alison, you grew up in an amazing family. You learned a lot of fantastic things by mom and dad, through example. Not that I didn’t. They were just different things.

    I was raised by a single mom with six kids. My mom could stretch a nickel to make a dollar, and hold her head up in church(though her hair smelled like smoke, not from her own habit but from where she worked) among SAHM’s in the church in the 60’s who had no comprehension of why she smelled like that.

    But back to the subject. Or maybe, round about, still on the subject. We are all different. Unfortunately, one strikingly re-occuring attribute of most women’s make-up is their insecurity in ‘how they are doing’ in the gospel. Possibly, with more and more of our children going astray due to their God given free agency (darn it!), and no matter how many times we hear that it’s not our fault, we just can’t wrap our heads or hearts around that.

    I don’t think men should be castigated (sp? right word) either. I’m married to the best. And I tell him all the time. And he tells me he doesn’t deserve me, but I know it’s not true. I always told our kids growing up that their father was one of the three Nephites, he’s that strong and unwavering. He doesn’t agonize over the things I agonize over. He is absolutely certain that each of our children will find their way. Give it time. It’s all part of the plan.

    As for pictures of Christ. I too prefer a masculine portrayal. A link to my favorite is below. I bought this painting for my son when he was overcoming an addiction. It is by Liz Lemon Swindle.
    I’m not sure I copied the link write but it’s possibly my favorite painting.


  • Kerry February 28, 2011, 5:45 pm

    I will never say this out loud, but I actually do think women are mostly better than men with spiritual stuff. I really do.

  • Janiel Miller February 28, 2011, 6:00 pm

    Lisa, you are the man. Er woman. 🙂 Great comment. I so agree.

  • Janiel Miller February 28, 2011, 6:08 pm

    Evidence? Look how much to-do is made of Mother’s Day vs Father’s Day. I’ve never been in a ward where anything was done on Father’s Day. Most of the time not even talks about fathers. This has always bothered me.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 5:13 pm

    Clark, homemaking meeting was done away with over a decade ago. (It was monthly then, not weekly.) It was replaced by Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment — which probably fell apart due to the unwieldy name. 😉 Then it became a not-necessarily-monthly-but-at-least-quarterly-depending-on-your-needs thing (or something like that), and then it became whenever your ward sisters need it, totally option, blah, blah, blah.

    I’ve been banished to the Primary for over a year, so I’m not really sure what the current configuration is. But there hasn’t been a weekly meeting in my adult life and there hasn’t been a monthly for a long time.

    Clark, I appreciate your insights and thoughts on this. The different perspectives is very helpful in sorting it all out.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 5:29 pm

    Thanks for the input, jks.

    Please note, again, that I didn’t say this woman (or any other) was lazy. What I wonder about is the double standard. I wonder why we praise women for behavior that we would not praise men for.

    You’re talking about giving personal support to a young mother you know. That’s great and wouldn’t suggest you withhold such personal support. What I wonder about is a general women-are-wonderful attitude and a general men-need-to-shape-up attitude as well as a tendency for women to praise general behaviors that would be seen as negative (by both men and women) in men.

    For example, in this particular case, I wouldn’t say that getting everyone off to work/school and going back to bed would be seen as a generally great behavior. I’d say it could only be seen as good in particular circumstances (such as some of those mentioned). But with women, we assume the extenuating circumstances, where with men we never do.

    Hope that makes sense.

    As a woman, I don’t want to be treated like I’m incapable. But that requires that I show capability. I don’t want to be treated like I’m fragile, but that requires that I accept counsel without sugar coating. I don’t see men as inherently (or generally) evil and I wonder why they are treated so differently.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…How to Become an Advanced Early Riser- Part 1My Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 5:44 pm

    Darcee, thanks for your insights and thoughts. Much appreciated.

    To be clear, I don’t have a problem with the rah-rah talks either, I just have a problem with the inequity.

    It’s kind of like scouts vs. activity day. I actually like scouts (ahem), but I don’t like that Activity Days get by far fewer resources.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 5:52 pm

    Just want to let you all know how much I appreciate the input. It’s good to hear different viewpoints and insights. And I really appreciate the civil discussion. 🙂
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  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 6:14 pm

    Janiel, not sure what part you’re responding to. I totally agree about MD vs FD. It was the feminization in lessons that I wasn’t sure about.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Help to SleepMy Profile

  • Believe All Things February 28, 2011, 7:20 pm

    Alison, I know you won’t be able to answer this question since the report was “second hand”, but I wonder if some in the audience felt it inspired?
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  • Janiel Miller February 28, 2011, 8:16 pm

    Um. That was sort of a mistake. I was doing two things at once and hit the submit button before I was ready to. “Evidence?” was a partial thought I was having as I typed and I didn’t mean to leave it on there. In fact the whole thing was a partial thought. Eep.

    Need blood sugar. I’m going to eat dinner now. And hug my very helpful and masculine husband.

  • Vennesa February 28, 2011, 10:12 pm

    Thanks for this post Alison. Now that you’ve brought this to my attention, I see it.
    I am feeling pretty good about that fact that my ward does something special for the men on Father’s Day. Last year the men went to the kitchen during priesthood and the RS had set up a chocolate fountain for them.
    I’ll be sure to tell my husband how much I appreciate him more often.
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  • Clark February 28, 2011, 11:59 pm

    Interesting. I wonder why our ward has it so regularly. I didn’t know that wasn’t universal.

    I can sympathize with primary. I was in nursery the first 3 years in my ward and am not doing Primary 7.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 11:05 pm

    If you mean the lesson, absolutely. The women who were talking about it, loved the lesson. They also loved the comment about going back to bed, if that’s what you mean. OK, I don’t know if they thought either was “inspired,” but they didn’t question it in our discussion. They generally loved both.

    As I said (have I said this enough yet? 😉 ) I don’t mind positive comments, but I think they ought to be spread around. You know, social justice, redistribution of wealth, all that “good” stuff.

    Really, I only think it’s good if it’s deserved. Remember Sister Beck’s “Mothers Who Know”? There was a heck of stink from women about that talk. Heaven forbid we should get actual direction — even from another woman. Heresy! But that’s kind of a side issue.

  • Clark March 1, 2011, 12:14 am

    One thing I’ve learned is that different people have different abilities and energy levels. It’s hard to make a one size fits all scenario. Especially once you throw in pregnancy and its aftermath as well as sleep deprivation from nursing babies and sick kids.

    Exactly how on earth you can encourage people and push them to extend themselves without overwhelming some or even discouraging them is a tricky bit. Makes me glad I’m not in leadership. Even trying to figure out those issues tends to make me much more sympathetic to leaders (men or women) who may say something more extreme than appropriate. I’m just not the leader type. But I’m grateful for leader types who did teach me I could do more than I thought I could.

    I also am really, really loath to generalize across a whole gender. There’s just too much variety. There are men who don’t help out with kids or cleaning. There are women who don’t want them to. Then there are men who have an exhausting day at work who come home and help when their wife hasn’t done much. Then there are women who remarkably manage to do it all. Throw in the diversity of kids (some well behaved who let parents do a lot versus those who need more attention) and it gets really tricky.

    Sometimes it’s obvious when parents are letting things go. But in general I just try not to judge too much. I’ve been judged myself by people who didn’t understand all the stuff going on behind the scenes.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 11:20 pm

    Vennesa, thank you for the comment. 🙂

    I love the chocolate fountain idea. What a treat!

    BTW, we had a stake Relief Society conference on Saturday. The food was catered and men from the stake set up, served the food, and cleaned up. That’s a tradition for the conference here. What a nice thing!
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 1, 2011, 2:40 am

    Clark, it could be because your RS leaders think it’s needed that often. Last I heard it was open to implement however the leaders choose.

    OK, I looked it up. LOL Yes, I forgot that the “other Relief Society meetings” are now called “other Relief Society meetings.” Wow.

    Anyway, here’s the link for you: Other Relief Society Meetings.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 1, 2011, 2:45 am

    Good points, Clark. Many different situations. It’s the generalizing that makes me squirmy.

  • Pattyann March 1, 2011, 12:25 pm

    Wow, this is some discussion you have going here. I think that women tend to be more uplifting to each other because they can be so hard on themselves. I think it is a difference in how we are raised. You had a different life than most women did who are your age. For me, I was raised by a single mother. The messages I was taught were very different from yours. For years, in the business field, men were and still are promoted sooner, paid more, and treated as if they are better. I think that is why women sometimes try and compensate for that at church. They try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. They try and teach each other that they do have worth and what they do is important. I see what you are talking about, but I would not presume to judge the woman who takes naps. For all I know, she has an illness that requires it. Depression can do that too you. If you don’t get sleep, you can not function. If you do, you feel guilty. There is a lot of baggage out there that others are carrying. I think we should do less about judging and more about loving each other. In our ward, the men get chocolate candy bars for father’s day. They love it!! There is nothing quite like having a treat to eat to make the men happy. My husband holds on to his and does not share!! (With three little girls, this is quite a trick!) We make it a special day for him. I know women who have a hard time with mother’s days and hate them and don’t go to church for them. I know that my husband is totally amazing. He cooks, he works, he helps out with the laundry. I cook, I work and I do other things too. It is a compliment. I would never expect him to be like me and I am grateful that he doesn’t expect me to be more like him.
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  • Stephanie March 1, 2011, 12:42 pm

    How I would love for somebody to tell me I was super-duper!

    My husband hears it all the time – praise at work, a gaggle of adoring daughters rush to greet him when he comes home, and I do my best to make him feel like a hero for being a provider and worthy priesthood holder.

    When he wants to go have some guy-time, I push him out the door and tell him to have fun.

    My husband loves and appreciates me, but does not typically give compliments. I’ve learned to accept that, but sometimes it would be great to hear I’m fabulous for something other than a well-done Sharing Time!

  • Alison Moore Smith March 1, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Pattyann, welcome and thanks for your insights and comments. It sounds like you and your husband have worked out an arrangement that works for you. 🙂 That’s what it’s all about.

    EVERYONE PLEASE READ THIS WAH!!! I don’t want to say it 400 more times! Ahem. 🙂

    Im not judging the woman one way or the other! (No, she isn’t ill or depressed. Nor does she have small kids. Or…) It isn’t about her, it’s about how we applaud behavior in women that we would not applaud in men. As I said, unless we knew about extenuating circumstances in men, we would generally label a man who slept until 10:00 and then napped at 2:00 as lazy or worse. But with a woman, we don’t even wonder if there are extenuating circumstances (in fact, asking about it is considered too judgmental), we just applaud her for “taking care of herself” or “filling her lamp” or “taking time to nurture herself.”

    I’m not arguing that these ideas are wrong (although, actually, I often think they are — that’s another post entirely), I’m asking why we are unfair about these labels and why, in general, the church leaders publicly stroke women and scold men.

    That said 🙂 I do think I was raised differently — even in a very traditional household with a working dad and a stay-at-home mom. But I also think women have the capacity to analyze their situations and make sense of them — fairly. We don’t do things just like my parents, but we have managed to make our lives equitable and enjoyable. Does that make sense?

    If a woman has small kids, is up at night, works all day long and her husband goes to work for eight hours and then plays Nintendo until bedtime, I think common sense tells us that’s not an equitable (or healthy) arrangement. On the other hand, if a woman sleeps until 10:00 and naps for an hour, while her husband works from 8:00–5:00, we would probably agree that he’s got three hours more “family service” at the end of the work day than she does.

    Yes, I am the anti-craft, but I don’t consider four hours of scrapbooking to be the equivalent of a hard day’s work at the office putting food on the table. OK, except for my good friend, Lisa. In her case, it more than worked out that way. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith March 1, 2011, 1:31 pm
  • Katie March 1, 2011, 10:37 pm

    I see your point. The good news is that in my marriage, we get plenty of “me” time and are constantly seeking for more “together” time. I work part time (about 2 days a week) and will admit to an occasional movie while the baby naps and ice cream for lunch, but that is also mixed in with a lot of other things. My husband works hard, but his schedule is also somewhat flexible and I know he sometimes will take a little longer in the morning to do some facebooking or whatever.

    I recently failed miserably at a calling (activity day leader) because I seriously did not have the time to get it all together and because my husband works at night (he teaches), I had my two younger kids. It was a nightmare. The good news is, the Primary Pres and I talked and she put me into a Sunday Primary teacher calling where I don’t have to keep an eye on my own kids and it is working great. It is just what I needed. Actually, I find I am less stressed out my NOT going to RS anymore :). The kids in Primary don’t seem to complain too much.

    My husband was EQ pres at one time and also tried to organize some guy centered activities. It was really hard. Other then a EQ pinewood derby, the rest fell flat…mostly because the men worked sometimes into the wee hours (him included) and the last thing they want to do is spend time with other guys. I can’t say I blame them. I belong to our ward’s book club and have only been to about 2-3 of the 12 a year that they have. I do see that I have more of a need to connect with other women then my husband seems to have. Maybe that is just us.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 2, 2011, 9:15 am

    Katie, such good insights. Some comments:

    So good that the two of you have found a balance that works for you. 🙂

    So good that, when you were in an unmanageable calling, you talked to the Primary president and worked out a better arrangement! So often, we just wallow around because we “have to” accept callings, even when we really can’t complete them. Way to go. Hope you enjoy your Primary class.

    In lots of ways, women do see more social animals. At least in the huggy, chatty way. I just hope both men and women can find a place that meets their needs — even if those needs are different.

  • Katie March 2, 2011, 12:42 pm

    About 5 years ago, I was sitting with a friend who was talking with her mother on the phone. We were discussing callings. I came from a home where you always said yes to a calling whenever you were asked. So, my take for a long time was you do that calling because the Lord has a need for you. Then I started getting into higher positions of responsibility and seeing on the flipside sometimes how callings are made. Many times, we as a presidency would go to the bishop about someone we had in mind. He would say no. One time it took us 3 years to get someone in who was feeling inspired as we were, but the Bishop felt different with pretty non-spiritual reasonings. We honored his judgment and waited. Sometimes people get picked through inspiration, sometimes because they are there. I get it. Back to the story….the mother on the phone said that she said no to callings all the time. My friend was sort of in the middle. Now, I am swinging to the other side of the pendulum. Especially after my AD fiasco, I knew when I accepted it that it was going to be a challenge. I felt like I needed to try. When it didn’t work, I felt like a failure. I took it pretty hard personally. I wonder if I would have just said no in the first place, could I have saved myself a lot of heartache.

    I guess my point is that sometimes I think there are traditions that get passed along and we follow them without really thinking about it…in the case of this post…the “pride” of womanhood gets a little tiring. I agree.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 2, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Then I started getting into higher positions of responsibility and seeing on the flipside sometimes how callings are made.

    Yup. First time I had a calling that required me to submit names for callings I (literally) fasted and prayed for every single one. After about the 20th fasted and prayed for name was rejected, I realized that I could eat. (Not that I’ve ever been in danger of starvation, mind you, but I do like food!)

    I think we individually need to balance being willing to accept callings we don’t like (I’m in one now!) and even need to stretch to fulfill, and setting appropriate boundaries given our circumstances. It’s not an easy challenge. 🙂
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  • michelle March 5, 2011, 4:45 am

    “But with a woman, we don’t even wonder if there are extenuating circumstances (in fact, asking about it is considered too judgmental), we just applaud her for “taking care of herself” or “filling her lamp” or “taking time to nurture herself.””

    Actually, I think we need to take a step back and listen to what counsel is actually being given from our general leaders vs. what people might be saying here and there (I don’t think what you are saying is universal — I think a lot of women work really hard to be plugged in and dedicated to their homes and so, in general, I don’t think these kinds of statements are out of line, because a little R&R is ok once in a while, for women or for men.

    But anyway, I do think this is where some discussion about culture vs. actual counsel might be good.

    IMO, Sister Beck is regularly inviting women to be really honest with ourselves and not insist that we are so entitled to escape from our responsibilities. She reminds us that we can and must be doing better. I feel the bar being raised by her. I think she (and other leaders, for that matter) are warning us regularly about the problems of distractions in our lives.

    We have to learn to find that balance that I think she seeks — in recognizing that self-incrimination is harmful, but so is self-justification when we can and should be donig better.

    For those men who are doing well, I think they need a lot of the same balance. But I also think there are a LOT of problems in a lot of homes that are really tearing at the foundation of the family (I read a recent stat that says nearly 50% of homes have pornography problems! – FIFTY PERCENT!) I can’t help but wonder if some of the pain some women are feeling goes deeper than what we can see, and the urgency of messages from our leaders for men to step up to the plate is that ultimately, if the man is out of whack, the whole family is out of whack. Of course, that will happen w/ a woman, too, but I do think the presiding thing matters — if the man is taking the lead, it can make it easier for the woman to feel safe, confident, and then motivated to do her part.

    Men are not scumbags — we are just facing some really intense opposition. And it’s tearing at both genders with a vengeance, but I think if there are differences, it may be that the tempations come in a little different way for each gender. And I think, net-net, that the counsel for ALL of us is to center ourselves and prioritize and be vigilant and seeking personal revelation on what counsel is relevant to us.

  • michelle March 5, 2011, 4:56 am

    Two more thoughts.

    1. When we have had this kind of ra-ra talk from local leaders, I felt it was there way to try to reinforce the doctrine that women matter to God. I think they know some women are sensitive to what they feel are inequities and this is their way of trying to reach out with that. I tend to feel it less about men being scumbags and women being so wonderful and more about the love of leaders reaching out in the best way they know how to women who may think they are ‘less than.’

    2. I also agree with jks about how the more traditional roles of homemaker and mother are more thankless than the workaday world often is, and in this day and age of so many options, motherhood in my view is becoming more and more thankless with time.

    OK, one more. I’ve known too many women in abusive marriages or who came from abusive homes, for whom this reinforcing language is so helpful and healing. So as I consider the variety of messages we hear over time, locally and generally, I try to think of the wide variety of people and situations that they have to try to address. I like to take a more longitudinal view of what is said, and I think a lot of this sort of averages out at some level. Men aren’t “always” called to repentance and women aren’t “always” coddled. There’s a mixture of reinforcement and calls to repentance for all of us, I think.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 5, 2011, 11:23 am

    michelle, welcome and thanks very much for your thoughts and insights.

    I didn’t understand your second paragraph parenthetical. Could you clarify what you are disagreeing with?

    I agree about Sister Beck, generally. As I posted in a comment up there somewhere (it’s comment #31 now, subject to change if someone posts a reply comment), she has been willing to give correction. Then women pile on and lambast her for it. I don’t see the same women up in arms when the men get a talking to.

    Your second to last paragraph seems to indicate that you think some of the disparity is due to men actually causing more problems than women. Did I read that correctly? (It’s a valid position, just trying to clarify.)

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith March 5, 2011, 11:29 am

    #1 I agree. My fourth point in the post hints at that, but that would really be an addition reason for the disparity.

    • Women feel discriminated against so we need to reinforce that they are loved and valued

    #2 I’m not really sure this is true. Maybe I’m just old, but I have seen a backlash to the hyper-feminism, bra-burning of my youth. Kind of a “homemakers stand up and be counted” thing. When I was a teen, the culture largely said “working is important, staying home is for the stupid,” but the church was largely oblivious to that and went on with business as usual — until President Benson’s “To Mothers in Zion” talk.

    Good point in your last paragraph, but I want to be clear that the “always” wasn’t a quote from my OP. 🙂

  • Being A Mother Who Knows March 5, 2011, 6:53 pm

    Michelle said, “IMO, Sister Beck is regularly inviting women to be really honest with ourselves and not insist that we are so entitled to escape from our responsibilities. She reminds us that we can and must be doing better. I feel the bar being raised by her. I think she (and other leaders, for that matter) are warning us regularly about the problems of distractions in our lives.”

    Well said Michelle! This post reminds me of Sister Beck’s talk from two conferences ago. She was quoting Eliza R. Snow. She said, “We want to be ladies in very deed, not according to the term of the word as the world judges, but fit companions of the Gods and Holy Ones. In an organized capacity we can assist each other in not only doing good but in refining ourselves, and whether few or many come forward and help to prosecute this great work, they will be those that will fill honorable positions in the Kingdom of God. … Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities.”

    I appreciate the great discussion.

    Blessings Ladies. : )

  • michelle March 6, 2011, 12:54 am

    This post reminds me of Sister Beck’s talk from two conferences ago.

    Yup. That was one in my mind as I mentioned that. 😉

    I didn’t understand your second paragraph parenthetical. Could you clarify what you are disagreeing with?

    What I was addressing was sort of a general point that I see hinted at here. It’s hard for me to have an opinion since I think anecdotes are just that. You share about women perhaps cutting themselves too much slack, but there are also plenty of examples of women leaving RS in tears because they feel they aren’t doing enough or that other women expect too much of them. Gender related stuff to me is often sort of like pinning down jello — we can show examples of the whole range of schtuff, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can make conclusions about the Church. So in your examples, I’d say that yah, there probably is a double-standard. But do ‘we’ in general in the Church have a double-standard? I think we have to look carefully at the whole of the teaching, not just anecdotes. And as I said before, I think there is a pretty decent average with what we hear — both deep concerns and also genuine thanks and encouragement for both men and women. So in general, I’d say no, I think God expects a lot of men and women and He can help us know individually what we need to do if we will listen. (Easier said than done, imo!)

    Your second to last paragraph seems to indicate that you think some of the disparity is due to men actually causing more problems than women. Did I read that correctly? (It’s a valid position, just trying to clarify.)

    No, it’s not that simple, but I do think there is something real to the power of presiding in a home and the problems that exist when it doesn’t happen. How much of women’s stress or need for a ‘break’ comes from such situations and how much comes from their own weakness? We probably have the whole gamut, which again is why I think we hear a variety of counsel.

    Have you seen this article? I think this still isn’t reflecting the core of where problems may spring from, but I do think it shows that there are some concerning trends in the larger culture that we also have to work against in the Church at some level. Let me be clear that I think this is only one dynamic that is creating problems, but I do think it is a real problem that the doctrine of the Proclamation — that men should provide and preside — can be a protection against.

    I think there are a lot of problems on the side of women, too, that we have to guard against. And I’m grateful we have a file leader who is inviting us to do and be better, even as she also says we are doing better than we think we are. We all hear both the encouragement and the invitations to improve.

    I think it’s human nature to often hear the message we need the least. 😉
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