Friday, June 8, 2012

Episode 46: The Pain of Patriarchy: "Their Fruits Don't Nourish Me"

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In this episode from The Pain of Patriarchy series, Sara shares her experience.

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  1. Wow, Sara. In many places I felt like I was listening to my own story. There were things that had bothered me before, but the temple brought so many things to the forefront for me. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. I've said this many times before, but you are so well-spoken (and well-written), Sara. Even though I knew most of the basic sketch of this story, it was really interesting, and at times heart-breaking, to hear about it in greater detail. Since having Addison two years ago, I have thought more keenly about what it would be like to question my worth. Will she question hers? Will she lack confidence in herself, her appearance, her abilities, etc.? I notice the things people say with regard to that topic more than I ever did. I think I always had a vague notion that I was perhaps a bit more self-confident/self-assured than some people, but it is only in the last several years that I have realized how many people struggle with those traits for a variety of reasons. For all my grumblings about church gender roles as a teen (and sometimes now), I absolutely never questioned that I am worth just as much as any other person. I love myself so whole-heartedly that I couldn't conceive of others/God/anyone also not appreciating me. And so it scares me a little bit to raise a little girl, not knowing the precise root of my own views and feelings (though I have some inklings) and whether I will be able to impart them to her. I have made peace with the church and I am very happy in it, happier than I ever thought possible. But will Addison's journey have a similar conclusion? Or a more painful one? I worry about it a little. Thanks for always provoking important thoughts for me.

  3. Dear llcall,

    As coincidence would have it, I also have a daughter named Addison. She is 17 years old. Until this past January, our family has been very diligent in taking her to our LDS ward every week. We even made it a point to try and go when on vacation.

    I had a few thoughts as I read your comment and I hope you won’t take it as intrusive on my part to respond. I, too, was a girl who very much had a strong sense of myself. I never worried about my body; I always thought I was beautiful even with my small breasts and unique nose. (Not in a vain way, really, as I thought all my friends were equally as beautiful. I think women in general are just beautiful in whatever form we manifest.) I never felt I had to dumb myself down to make boys feel better. I felt pretty secure in the idea that of course God loved me as much as anyone else. But as is evident from the segment that is mine on this pod cast series, I was also often made to question my innate sense of self when I would go to church or listen to GC or hear the comments my father made which grew out of this.

    As for my daughter, she did not have the same sense of self from age 12-16. She often made comments that she felt like God didn’t love her, that her body was ugly, etc. After years of struggle, I finally felt I simply had to take her and leave the LDS institution for a while. The two of us have been to other churches these past five months and it has done wonders for her to see women show up to church in pants (so stupid, I know, but the fact that LDS women are culturally not allowed to wear nice pants to church is such unneeded micromanaging and patriarchal policy to me), but much more importantly, she’s been able to see women blessings the sacrament (Eucharist/Lord’s Supper/ whatever term you want to use). She is joyously happy at present. She simply couldn’t sit through one more lesson about hem lengths or sleeve lengths or multiple earrings or only being allowed by God to desire motherhood as an ultimate life goal.

    I feel patriarchal messages hurt all women in one way or another, but some personalities it simply annihilates. I hope your daughter is not one of them. My humble advice is to pay attention to your child and talk often. If you disagree with something you hear at church, let her know how you feel. If you don’t say anything, your daughter will infer that that is how you see things as well. I feel for far too long I failed to let my daughter know how powerful and capable and equal I have always known her to be.

  4. I meant to also thank Sara for her heartfelt words. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I feel privileged to find myself in such wonderful company. My own experience is that the Holy Ghost has very much assured me that patriarchy is not divine in origin. Once I had a personal witness of this, everything has changed for me. Much love to you.

  5. Thank you, Sara, for your sincerity and for putting your heart out in the open like this. I think there are so many motherless women out there that are grieving.

    For perspective sake, I have to add here that as a child, the first time I ever heard the whole of "Oh my Father" the lyrics shocked me. I felt fear because I felt like I was doing something bad by saying the words, "Heavenly Mother" because not only had never heard Her name spoken in church before, but I didn't know that Mormons believed in Her.

    I was fourteen years old when this happened. I'd never heard of her until then, and when I did, it was in singing through a random hymn. It makes me sad to look back on it.

    I'm not afraid to say Her name anymore and I hope others will not be afraid either-but I think the fear of church discipline is still there in many people's hearts. It's so sad and so telling.

  6. Sybil,

    This is probably not the place for this post, but this talk did make me think of this idea. I'm not sure about your other listeners, but I would love to hear from some rLDS (Church of Christ?) women since they have been given priesthood. It would be good to know how that has affected their views of their self-worth. If you could interview some, I'd love to hear the talks.

    1. Iris, this is a wonderful idea. I have thought about how interesting that another branch of Joseph Smith's church has ordained women. I would definitely like to hear an interview like you're describing. As you've probably just seen, I'm finished up now with doing interviews and I'm turning my heart-energies elsewhere. Maybe you could do an interview. I'd love to hear it!


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