Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lines in the sand

I got an email recently from the Relief Society presidency, looking for a Priesthood holder to attend the next Enrichment night. Apparently, women cannot be alone in the church. I responded with an offer to show up with a key if that was what was needed, but that I would conscientiously object to supporting any such policies by actually chaperoning adult women. I was sure to include the bishop in the response, since he was included in the original inquiry. So, although it's no bus boycott, I have been feeling more empowered to "call it like I see it" in the church.

How a Western woman can swallow this whole is beyond me--I honestly think that any human being should be offended by this kind of policy. What am I missing?

I know there are some readers of this blog who are more inclined to believe all of these policies are set down by divinely inspired leaders than I am. I'm fairly certain that if you don't believe the LDS church is "the only true and living" church, you'll call out a policy like this for the sexism it is. So to the believers, here's the question--why on earth would such a policy exist? Why are women not to be trusted alone? Might they start to think for themselves?

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15 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

I know answering this is an invitation to criticism, but you asked, so I decided to answer. The policy is not because women are not trusted in the building. The policy is so priesthood authority is in the building if anything should happen. Yes, I'm sure that is still sexist to some, but I have seen instances in my brief time as a member where sisters who went in the building without a priesthood holder really wished they hadn't later. In this case, someone showed up who may have been on something and started demanding money. Yes, she is a capable woman and handled the situation just fine, but she really wished later she had made sure a priesthood holder had been there.

That's the reason I know for the policy. I also know sisters are given keys to the building and therefore are completely able to enter it whenever they choose - many do so without asking for a priesthood holder. If she asked for a priesthood holder to be present, then she has that right. Take it for what you will.

May 11, 2007 at 5:16 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I remember going in the back door at church once with my key (I was in the primary presidency and wanted to set up chairs on Saturday vs. early Sunday)...When I was walking to unlock the door, the unmarried second counselor in the bishopric came up behind me and said, "Heeey, good lookin'! What you doing here all alone?" and I was creeped out. I was married and this upstanding priesthood holder was saying crap like this because we were alone and he felt he could.

I can tell you I didn't stay in that building alone with him, and went early on Sunday to set up chairs. I would have felt much safer alone, with NO priesthood holder in sight, let me tell you.

I find the practice of needing a priesthood holder present archaic and demeaning, personally. But I know many women who enjoy it and openly support such ideas, reminding me of the small, petite girls in high school who'd simper and giggle when the big, strong football players insisted on being their "protectors" at events.

Of course, the same simpering giggles happened whenever one of the tough guys would physically pick up one of these girls and place her in the garbage can in the hall, too. Thank GAWD I was 5'9" and nobody felt compelled to try that on me.

I'm very glad you refused to be that chaperone, Uj.

May 11, 2007 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Robert, there are certainly scenerios where a large burly male could fend off a strung-out homeless guy. A wheel-chair bound PH holder probably wouldn't add much value here. And, as SML pointed out from personal experience, a burly male might be a real problem. Can you imagine a university that only allows women in it's buildings when men can watch them? Or a company that only lets men in on Saturdays when the place is empty? Are two women cops less effective than a mixed or all male team?

This policy is sexist, pure and simple.

May 11, 2007 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hey, Uj...have you read the book "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French? I read it recently and it really changed my perception of women, myself, men, and society's views of how women should be. It touched me deeply, as I recognized myself in the women portrayed there. I recommend it highly. In fact, I'm trying to get my husband to read it. Wish me luck.

May 11, 2007 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

How a Western woman can swallow this whole is beyond me--I honestly think that any human being should be offended by this kind of policy. What am I missing?

You are missing out on the lessons taught to the females at church from primary on up...

Boys rule and girls drool.

Oops, sorry! I mean, support the priesthood. Always. Even if it hurts. Which it shouldn't if you're being a good girl.

May 11, 2007 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Another thing...Robert said the woman really wished later that she had made sure a priesthood holder had been there.

Being required to have a priesthood holder there is altogether different than women choosing if they'd like one there or not, however. It is sexist.

May 11, 2007 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Women use our building without priesthood holders there. It may be against policy, but it is not against practice, if that makes sense. As for a priesthood holder being alone with a woman he is not married to (where either or both are married), that is more strongly discouraged (in my experience) than the policy of priesthood being in the building when it is in use.

The request you received was for a priesthood holder to be in the building. If you chose not to go, that's your prerogative.

I don't have a problem with women protecting themselves. Most if not all of the women I know are quite capable of protecting themselves from all sorts of problems. Women police officers are no less capable than male police officers. I just know the policy is for general safety. Again, I know that is an invitation for criticism. I can see your point of view.

May 11, 2007 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

As a security professional, I can definately see the benefit to having PHs in the building especially in the times we are living in. Is it wrong of the church leaders to be concerned with the safety and security of it's female members?

Robert I have to disagree with you a little. I will grant you that SOME women are capable of defending themselves such as trained female police officers, but let's be realistic. 99% of women aren't going to be able to defend themselves against the typical criminal / predator type male aggressor.

In the field I work in I can definatly tell you that a woman all alone in a big building is an EXTREMELY inviting target to a predator. I know it sounds nuts, but a male presence, even a guy in a wheel chair goes a long way to reducing that temptation. In most cases the would-be predator will move on to easier targets.

I have no problem with confident, independent women. But, at the same time those women are fooling themselves and placing themselves in danger if they are convinced that they are perfectly capable of defending themselves if a situation should arise.

One more note. Ujlapana: Do you believe in the priesthood power as a real power and authority from God? Or is it just an old boy's club to you? If something should happen wouldn't it be comforting to have a worthy priesthood holder present who can call upon the powers of heaven, even though he be in a wheel chair? I know you say on your blog that you are not quite believing. How do you stand with the priesthood?

May 11, 2007 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

Forget about my last question. I just read some more of you blog. I don't think I need clarification on your feelings about the priesthood.

May 11, 2007 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Shadow Spawn ~

Wouldn't it be nice if God chose to also grant to women priesthood power so they could also call on it when needed? You'd think that since he made the women less strong physically, he'd give them that same comfort to call upon the powers of heaven. But noooooo. No can do.

May 11, 2007 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

Sister Mary Lisa:

Personally I would have no problem with women in the priesthood except for one thing. We men would get left behind in the dust. What would be left for us? = )

Priesthood aside I've always thought the rule was more for security reasons than anything else. Just to make sure that there are some MEN around.

Example: When I was a teenager I worked summers as a lifeguard at an outdoor pool. One summer there was a couple of serial murders. ( very rare for my area ) The first victim was a female school teacher. The killer waited for her in her car. Forced her at gunpoint to a remote area where he raped and then killed her.

During the time the killer was still on the loose the pool where I worked made a rule that there was always to be at least one male lifeguard on duty for the evening shift. This was for after everyone went home and the lifeguards stayed after cleaning and closing up. Anyway doesn't that make sense? Wasn't the city acting in the best interest of it's female employees at the time? Aren't the church leaders just being concerned for it's female members? I know my wife hates being in the church alone at night while printing up bulletin info. It freaks her out...and it should.

May 11, 2007 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Shadow, I'm glad that you read more of my blog, but let me give you an answer to your question.

First of all, I agree that people should take actions to be safe. If a minimum number of people were set, that would be a great idea, say three or four. (I see no need to give special allowances for men, who are also victimized. In fact, I believe that a policy may exist to that effect, beneath the no-female-gatherings-allowed policy.) The Church obviously believes that two women form a sufficiently safe group, since missionaries abound. We live in one of the safest areas of the US, so this request was driven by policy, not personal concern for safety.

You asked me, Do you believe in the priesthood power as a real power and authority from God? Or is it just an old boy's club to you?

Ah, the cool comfort of a black-and-white world. I do not choose either of these options. The priesthood is a sub-community within our faith that brings out the best of some men in some situations, and the worst in others. I do not believe that it makes LDS men, in any objective way, better conduits of the divine than anyone else God chooses to communicate with. It clearly excludes women for no reason within their control, which is an affront to their humanity.

If something should happen wouldn't it be comforting to have a worthy priesthood holder present who can call upon the powers of heaven, even though he be in a wheel chair?

I'm not sure what the priesthood would add here. Women can give blessing of health, if there was a need for such a thing. They can exercise any of the gifts of the Spirit in fact. If one needed to, say, rebuke the Devil, I don't see that listed as a priesthood ordinance anywhere. I guess if there were suddenly a need for an ordination to the office of deacon, you'd need a priesthood holder.

In short, I do not believe in a God that would in some way short change a woman (or non-priesthood-holding man) in any situation in which the presence of a priesthood holder might bring extra blessings. That's a little too capricious for an all-powerful being, I think. Can you imagine God saying, "Poor little Josie, your mother is crying over your feverish body, but because your Daddy ran away with a younger woman, I cannot bless you. I hope your home teachers arrive before you die...."

May 12, 2007 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

"Ah, the cool comfort of a black-and-white world. I do not choose either of these options."

Ok, in that case the whole point is moot and lost on you. You either beleive in the Priesthood or you don't. You clearly stated that you do not believe that it is anything extra special.

" I do not believe that it makes LDS men, in any objective way, better conduits of the divine than anyone else God chooses to communicate with."

I guess I need to read more of your blog to understand where you are coming from.

You gave reasons in an earlier post about why you stay in the Church. After reading your reasons I too have to wonder why you stay. You will continue to subject your family to brainwashing, indoctrination, paying tithing, being treated as second-class citizens, not to mention time wasted on callings just because it's convenient to have someone there to talk to your kids about sex & drugs, and to remind you to have family home evening?

I tell you what, if I didn't believe in the Church in the first place and thought about it what you seem to think of it, there's no way I'd allow my family to waste one more minute on Mormonism.

You seem to want to enjoy certain benefits of church membership, but are unwilling to walk a certain path. As the old saying goes, "you want to have your cake and eat it too." You take adavantage of the things of the Church you like, and then spend a bunch of your time stabbing the church in the back, and reviling it's teachings on a public internet blog. People like you always remind me of Revelations 3:

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

I know I got off topic, but you can't be THAT bothered with PHs in the Church. I just decided to cut to the chase of what I think it's all really about.

May 12, 2007 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Shadow Spawn,

Would you rather Uj talk about his issues with the church AT church vs. here on his personal blog? Because you KNOW that's not generally accepted, right? Open discussion of things that are bothersome at church is not possible.

May 12, 2007 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

SS, you wrote:
You either beleive in the Priesthood or you don't. You clearly stated that you do not believe that it is anything extra special.

Depends on what you mean when you say "believe in the Preisthood," doesn't it? Obviously I believe in the Priesthood, I hold it. It gives me great opportunities to help others, which is good, but is used to segregate people due to things beyond their control (skin color or gender), which is bad. At any rate, it's not an old boy's club: 12-year-old's are old boys.

I just decided to cut to the chase of what I think it's all really about.

Okay, well, I hope you feel better after getting all of that off your chest. Maybe you can be more relaxed after my next post, and we can better understand each other.

I'll leave the light on for you....

May 13, 2007 at 5:27 PM  

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