Monday, November 11, 2013

"Someone who Believes the Radical Notion that Women are People"

"Feminist" has always been a dirty word for me. I've always leaned toward being a feminist since I probably could talk, but I would have never admitted to being one. In my mind, that was akin to telling everyone you were a fascist, believed in alien abduction or something else equally extreme. If we were to free associate about the word "feminist" I think plenty of negative words would fly from the general populace: angry, man-hater, bitch, tom-boy, psycho, uncouth, power-hungry, hairy-legged, unfeminine. . .But I'm none of those things (aside from the current winter fur on my legs. I know. TMI). I'm simply someone who wants both sexes to be able to reach their full and varied potential. I don't want anyone to miss out on life's experiences or opportunities simply because of what society thinks is appropriate or allowable because of one's gender. And if that's a feminist, I'm a feminist.

I was watching The Amazing Race today and I was saddened and disturbed by the teams visit to The United Arab Emirates. They flew in from Austria where all the teams were wearing your typical American fare, but upon visiting a mosque, the women were suddenly swathed in black from head to toe. I'm happy that they were kindly following custom and respecting religion and culture, but my heart ached as I watched them walk in with their male teammates who had done nothing whatsoever to change their appearance. My heart, once again sunk, for women around the world whose freedoms are few and based on their sex. One male teammate expressed his joy at his female partner "finally having to shut up" and that he'd like her better if they "could do the rest of the season in the mosque".

I want a world where both women and men and contribute their thoughts, talents and energy. I think we would be more likely to solve the many things which ail us individually and collectively. I want a world where both m
en and women are encouraged and expected to rise up to their potential. I don't want anyone to expect women to wear certain clothes or act in a specific way to save poor, stupid men who just can't control their thoughts or behaviors. I truly believe that men are strong, considerate and fully capable of focusing any "natural man" tendencies to their proper place.We insult and sell men short, when we do anything but expect the best. Every person is responsible for his or her actions regardless of someone else's behavior.  

I want a world where men and women can embrace interests, passions, pursuits and thoughts irrespective of what is stereotypical of their gender. I want boys to play with dolls without teasing. I want girls to throw "like a girl" and for that to be a compliment. I want to be able to help lift boxes and move people in my ward, instead of always being expected to stay home with the kids or scrub the floors. I want more stories and examples of amazing females both in the world and out of the scriptures for my son and daughters to draw from.

Most of all, I want us to be kind to each other. I've been saddened by the reaction of many church members to The Ordain Women movement. Despite what you personally believe or what you believe the church doctrine is, we should all be kind. There has been a lot of hateful words and behavior toward people in this group. Of all people, we should know what it's like to be persecuted, made fun of and shunned for our beliefs and we should be the most understanding and the most compassionate. Mostly, because we as a people, we are trying to be like the Savior, we shouldn't be hateful and mean, but be Christlike.

I don't know where I fall on The Ordain Women movement. I know that I have had many questions about the past with women and the priesthood. I've felt discriminated against. I've been saddened by the gender generalizations and expectations.  I know that I don't have any desire for any major leadership positions. But sometimes I think I would rather be the bishop, than the bishop's wife. My heart has sunk and twisted around as I wondered how to answer Gen when she asks why she can't pass the sacrament. I want to know what it's like to give blessings. I want to place my hands on someone's head, be surrounded by the spirit as I feel God's power and words flowing through me. But I don't know what's right and what God wants now and I'm excited to hear if and when the prophet gives us an answer. In the meantime, I will be kind and supportive to those who are brave enough to share their hearts.