I really don't want to do this. It's just not that interesting to me. And I'm so late to the party that the boat embarked, sailed the world, returned victorious, and docked at harbor all while I was trying to decide what to pack.

Still, as the uproar continues, I'll add my two cents about all the clamoring against President Julie Beck's General Conference talk. There are some devout and thinking LDS women who disagree with the negative spin. I haven't been up on reading the Bloggernacle as of late, so I can only hope I'm not alone in the wilderness. But I suspect I am not.

When I heard the talk, I knew straightway that there would be a hue and a cry from some predictable venues. But the second thought was, “The wimps. They would never have survived To Mothers In Zion.”

I'm just thrilled that we are getting real direction! I've about had it up to my eyeballs with the you-are-so-wondrous-and-amazing-no-pressure-no-guilt-no-problem-you-are-saved-hallelujah talks, that having a get-up-off-your-duffs-and-do-something was a blessed relief.

Truthfully, however, much of the anti-Beck sentiment isn't even logical. I'm not exactly sure how to address the dozens of comments that argue against things that Beck never said. Suffice it to say, there's a whole heck of a lot of beating down straw (wo)men going on.

Rather than point the wagging finger at particular people, I'll just quote some of the objections anonymously and respond. There is much repetition, so I'll try not to include too many, almost identical complaints. But bear with me. Trust me, I won't enjoy writing this any more than you'll enjoy reading it.

No mention of fathers vital roles

This is what we might call “a rock and a hard place.” Had Beck spent much time in a talk to/about mothers chatting about fathers, you can bet that some would have complained about the men encroaching upon their domain. So, she sticks to talking about mothers and she's still in trouble. Go figure.

In For the Strength of Youth, the authors didn't spend any time discussing senior missions either, but that doesn't suggest they aren't significant in the grand scope of the church or the gospel.

Do we really need to harp about the speaker staying on topic? Sometimes I kind of enjoy a talk that is just for me!

…the unacknowledged assumption that all women can be mothers/homemakers

Perhaps it's not acknowledged because it wasn't assumed at all. Not only have these exceptions been acknowledged again and again and again in authoritative speeches, but Sister Beck (again) acknowledged them explicitly in this talk.

Mothers who know desire to bear children…Faithful daughters of God desire children…Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality…Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality.

Seriously, how much more clear must she be?

Today, I will take a stand. I will not back down. I hereby declare that:

  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about motherhood even though not every member will be a mother.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about fatherhood even though not every member will be a father.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about marriage even though not every member will have the opportunity to marry.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about temple marriage even though not every member will marry in the temple.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about paying tithing even though not every member will be a full tithe payer.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about youth programs even though not every member was able to participate in youth programs.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about Primary even though not every member attended Primary.

I further declare that our leaders can appropriately:

  • Speak about mothers without speaking about fathers. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about bishops without speaking about Relief Society presidents. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about young women without speaking about young men. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about homemaking without speaking about math and science. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about cleanliness without speaking about toilet paper roll directional issues. (And vice versa.)

She equated housekeeping with nurturing ?

No, she said, “Another word for nurturing is homemaking.” Housekeeping is most reasonably a subset of homemaking. So, in her words, housekeeping would be part of nurturing.

…the conflating of homemaking and housecleaning…

In reality, the talk says, “Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home.” [Emphasis added.]

She did not say, “Homemaking is only cooking, washing clothes…”

Do intelligent adults really dispute the fact that homemaking (the creation and management of a home as a pleasant place in which to live) actually does include at least a handful of domestic duties?

I have to believe that much of this supposed “conflating” has been presented this way simply to intentionally create a controversy. Those making these claims appear to be articulate, educated people who do know the difference between “includes” and “is.” Or maybe they are too closely aligned with Bill Clinton to define such tricky verbiage as “is.”

There is no way that I can believe that keeping our homes as tidy as the temple…or being the best homemakers in the world…are the vital lessons that will bring myself and my family closer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let's take this a piece at a time. Did Sister Beck say we should be “keeping our homes as tidy as the temple”? Not remotely. What she actually said was, “…women should pattern their homes after the Lord's house.”

True, the fabricated statement is much more likely to get women angry and up-in-arms and much more likely to create rafts of web traffic and a flurry of posting than the truth. But does that excuse the misrepresentation?

Now that you know the truth, what, exactly, is so horrible about the idea of using the Lord's house as a pattern for our own? What sinister evil lurks behind those, apparently, dirty words?

In the second part of the assertion we find some accuracy. Sister Beck did say, “Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world.” But the author inflates this recommendation to be “the gospel lesson.” I'm at a sincere loss trying to discover where Beck claimed that “keeping our homes as tidy as they temple and being the best homemakers in the world is the gospel lesson to bring salvation.”

Was the author on a Pepsi binge when she watched conference? Tsk, tsk.

So let's bring this back, again, to the actual statement made. (I know it's hard hang with me for a minute.) Beck apparently does believe that cleanliness is part of godliness. (My, that sounds vaguely familiar ?) She does seem to indicate that a faithful disciple of Christ shouldn't live in filth and squalor. So, here's my question. If you can't believe that being a great homemaker actually could bring you and your family closer to God, is it possible that you are missing something? Or is the only plausible scenario that Sister Beck is off her rocker?

President Beck's talk yesterday glorifying the traditional role of the woman as a homemaker seems almost incongruent with the recent talks/articles in which male leaders encourage women to get all the education they can and to prepare to be self-sufficient.

I could take issue with inflated phrases like “glorifying the traditional role…” but I won't bother. Instead, I'll just point out that this supposed incongruity is nonexistent.

The author would have us believe that the prophet advising women to become educated is somehow incompatible with the idea that we should learn solid homemaking skills, too, unless the prophet specifically lists homemaking skills among those things to be educated about.

Obviously that's a fallacious position. But I do wonder why the author didn't make the same claims about other subjects or skill sets. Did the prophet specifically mention math? finance? hygiene? Is she suggesting that any future talks stating that “women who know will bathe fairly regularly” are also “incongruous” with the prophet's counsel to be educated, since the prophet never mentioned shower time?

The Brethern and the Relief Society Presidency should be united in the message that our young women will be required to take on significant homemaking responsibilities when they get married, and encourage them to include developing homemaking skills along with their formal education to fulfill these important responsibilities.

The implication that they are not united is ludicrous. Does the author really suggest that if she were to ask the prophet, “Is it a good thing for women to have homemaking skills?” that he would say, “No. All other education is good, but not that kind of education!”?

The truth is, every single talk and article do not need to include every single bit of information remotely related to the topic. Wasn't that taught somewhere in 7th grade English?

Please, let's insert some common sense in all the feminist flustering.

Fathers as well as mothers, men as well as women, are called to nurture.

“Called” is a term used in the church to indicate a particular assignment from God. In that sense, I think this statement is erroneous. I can't find any authoritative source where men are “called” to nurture. But I find those where women are called to do so (for example, The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Yes, men usually do some of the nurturing in their families, but are they “called” to it? I'm not sure.

Again, however, this harkens back to the former complaint. Even assuming men are called to nurture, why does that prohibit us from discussing the fact that women are, as well? In a talk to “Mothers Who Know,” why do we have to discuss what fathers know in the same breath?

Hypersensitivity to gender is likely at the root. But what it really amounts to is, “If the women are being called on the carpet for something, then you darn well better call out the men, too, because they are just as bad as we are — and probably worse!”

Even if the talk is about women. Even if it's addressed to women. Even if the men were in a cave clanging bones together when the talk was given. You better add that the men need to nurture, too, so that when my husband comes home (from the cave) I can let him know what he needs to do — or it's not fair.

The odd thing to me is that from a group demanding equality, they seem completely unwilling to also equally bear correction even from those called by God to direct them.

Yes, tell the men to stop surfing for porn, stop being domineering, start being attentive and loving. But don't you dare tell me to pick up the trash piled in the foyer! How degrading to my personhood!

Individuals and relationships flourish when we are able to share not only our strengths but also our mutual imperfections and needs.

So? Although I'm not convinced that relationships really “flourish” when we “are able to share…our mutual imperfections” what does that have to do with the talk? We can't discuss progress and ideals because it prohibits us from “flourishing”?

Cleanliness depends upon access to resources and has more to do with priorities than purity of heart.

This comment had me seriously guffawing at my screen. It sounds like something Al Gore would say. Yes, we're “feeling the pain” of those “less fortunate.” Especially if it means I can leave the moldy dishes in the sink all week long.

Actually, no, the cleanliness Beck spoke of doesn't depend upon resources. My ancestors lived in dirt floor cabins that were, in fact, “patterned after the Lord's house.” My husband served a mission in Samoa where he lived on a dirt floor with only a roof overhead. He and many of those who lived similarly also were able to live lives or order and cleanliness. This principle isn't confined to some 21st century, upper-middle-class, American suburb.

Just this morning I read this passage in T.D. Jake's Reposition Yourself:

[Jahi] described how she had built the home with dry branches…and cow manure…Her dirt floors were swept clean. I could see the faint rake marks in them…

Jahi's little shack didn't look much different from the homes of some of my older relatives for whom slavery was recent memory and who swept and raked their dirt yards like the Kenyan woman did her floors.

To me, these vivid descriptions of those living in what American's would call severe poverty, still portray exactly what Beck suggested.

No, it doesn't require resources, but it does require a mild level of priority on order and cleanliness. Yes. And we wouldn't want that. It's so restrictive. And besides, my husband should do it.

Housework is something that grownups do and that children learn by example and instruction. Unfortunately, women and girls still perform the bulk of the world's low-paid and unpaid labor, including housework often at the expense of their own education, leadership, creativity, health, and well-being. Men and boys who share care-work and household responsibilities make it possible for all family members to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

I'm unsure what part of Sister Beck's actual article (as opposed to the imagined, anti-women one) this is supposed to be addressing. Does the idea that women should have solid homemaking skills preclude men from having them as well? Does her statement, “Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate.” really mean only girl children? (Didn't you see the secret frames of the subservient little slave girl flashing subliminally on the screen while Sister Beck spoke???)

And let me ask a question to all you strong, bold, clear-thinking feminists:

Why is it a bad thing that “women and girls still perform the bulk of the world's low-paid and unpaid labor, including housework”?

If the work is important, if it contributes positively, if it brings a better quality of life, if it supports the family, if it is necessary who cares what the cash market for it is?

As long as babysitters make less than CEO's, it will be considered demeaning to this angry crowd to actually take care of their own children.

We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents.

Again, what does this have to do with her talk? With the exception of the “whether we become parents.” Is it that you take issue with the idea that God wants us to become parents? If so, then you'd better talk to a few more people than just President Beck.

I suppose when God commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth, he directed that to everyone except those who reverence the choice to ignore it.

…the guilt…

This, I think, is the real problem. It's the bottom line. It's the coup de grâce. Sister Beck made us feel guilty; the Gen X equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment.

How dare she speak about something we might actually have room to improve in? What heresy!