Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gender Roles and Other Annoyances

Due to the questions I've had about my place in our little family, we decided to join the marriage and family relations class offered instead of Sunday School.  I figured, where better to figure things out than a church-sponsored class.  Today was the 2nd day.
   The first day, we talked generally what family was.  No problems there.  Our homework was to read from the manual and discuss it.  The talk we were supposed to read was Boyd K Packer's talk "The Great Plan of Happiness". It started out about what I'd expect, marriage is between a man and a woman, homosexuality can't work, men and women are equal, etc.  Not that I particularly agree with those points, but that's a post for another time.  I started getting irritated at the talk when he said "There is nothing in the revelations which suggests that to be a man rather than to be a woman is preferred in the sight of God, or that He places a higher value on sons than on daughters."   I wanted to laugh.  No, revelation doesn't say it, but culture and lessons sure do.  Young women get lessons on obeying authority, becoming good homemakers, preparing to be a wife and mother.  Young men get lessons on finance, schooling, leadership.  In Relief Society, we are taught many, many lessons about the PRIESTHOOD; honoring, obeying, supporting the priesthood.  But, as far as my husband has told me, there are very few lessons in Priesthood about supporting, honoring, and listening to your wife.  The blatant gender inequality drives me bananas sometimes.
      The next little gem that got my goat was: "Some roles are best suited to the masculine nature and others to the feminine nature."  I wonder how much is "nature" (i.e. based on gender expectations), and how much personality matters.  Because, personally, I am not meek, mild, humble, sweet, or especially nurturing; all characteristics normally used to describe women.  My guy doesn't have a strong personality, he doesn't like to make decisions, and he is very patient.  None of these really seem to be typical "manly" characteristics.  And it bothers me, because the church seems to think that because I was born with indoor plumbing, that I am full of sweet, sweet spirit and loving kindness.  But really, I'd rather yell at you and tell you why you're ticking me off, then smile and turn the other cheek.  I guess my main irritation in this is WHERE ARE THE LESSONS TELLING ME MY PERSONALITY IS OK? Why do I feel like a failure because I'm not looking forward to staying at home with the kids (if we ever get them).
      We  talked yesterday about our roles.  He would much rather stay at home and take care of the house and kids then go out.  And I kind of would rather be in a job where I can be in charge and get validated.  The problem is he is currently making at least twice what I could.  But, as we talked and thought that maybe, we could reverse our work situations and it would work out.  The thought terrified me. Not only because with my very demanding mental illnesses I fear I won't be able to handle the pressure of being the breadwinner, but more because I was scared of what the reactions at church would be.  How the guys would look down on him for doing "women's work" and I would be condemned for not wanting to fulfill my role as a HOLY HOUSEWIFE.
     Also, in class, a point was made "The First Presidency teaches the ideal.  They know people won't always reach it, but they teach it so people know what to strive for."  That made sense to me.  But what doesn't, is why do our lessons, also, talk about the ideal?  You would think that a Relief Society president would know how many of her flock isn't living the "ideal" or even those who have the ideal are struggling.  Why can't we have lessons tailored to where we are and how to get a little bit further?  Why are we always reiterating THE IDEAL, knowing full well most of us won't reach it?  And I'm not just talking ideal family.  Ideal anything: calling, service, Visiting Teacher, wife, etc.  What would be the harm in admitting that no one is perfect, and starting lessons at the bottom, teaching us how to work our way up?  So often in church, I'm frustrated because there's a lot of telling us what to do, without telling us how to do it.
     Anyway, this post has gone on much longer than I anticipated, and I apologize for my soapboxing.  I will conclude by saying, if you really want to read a horrible, obvious, and condescending analogy, then click the above link and scroll to the bottom where it talks about a parable.  Then come back and tell me he's not talking about how feminism is selfish.

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