Monday, July 7, 2014

Enough Is Enough


There is a war being waged in nearly every home and every community in this country… A war which is largely one-sided with the losers laying down their arms and the winners taking as many prisoners as possible, including the dissenting voices in their own army. This is the war that clever columnists and politicians have dubbed “the war on women” when in fact it is exactly the opposite. You see, the real war on women in this country was fought and won before my time by generations of brave and competent women who just wanted to be treated as human beings. This new war is not a continuation of that noble cause. This new war is a spit in the face to those women who fought so hard to be heard and taken seriously. The fighters in this war are not seeking equality to men. No… their goal is to teach every man, woman, and child that women no longer need men.

I almost brought this war into my own living room this week. My husband and I were watching “Daddy Daycare” with our two boys yesterday and laughing at how miserably these men were failing at running a childcare center. My 5 year old asked, “Why are they trying to do the Mommy’s job?” Instantly my inner girl power switch was flipped and I was about to take issue with the phrase “Mommy’s job”, especially when the tasks portrayed in the movie were so stereotypically menial. I decided instead to ask him a question back.

“Jay, can boys do everything girls can do?”

“NO!” He laughed.

“What can’t they do?”

“Stay home and take care of the kids,” he said matter-of-factly.

“You’re probably right,” I said jokingly (in light of our movie choice). “What about girls? What can boys do that girls can’t do?”

“Go to work.”

My mind started spinning. Everything inside of me wanted to declare, “Of course they can! Doesn’t Mommy work sometimes? And go to school? And take care of you? Girls can do ANYTHING boys can and then some!” And then I realized the real message that would have sent. “Women don’t need men. You have no purpose or value.”

I was about to take my own son prisoner in a war I didn’t know I was fighting. It was then I finally realized that we have gone too far, tipping the scales perhaps irreversibly in women’s favor. Our world is full of examples of women winning over “man's territory”. For heaven’s sake, we are about to face the very real possibility of a female president. We have conquered public service, the military, medicine, science, Hollywood, etc. The list goes on and on. There is nothing we can’t do… right? But as I stared into my son’s giant hazel eyes I just couldn’t say that to him. I didn’t believe it anymore. When I looked at him I saw the father he will one day be, the husband, the priesthood holder, the missionary. I saw a boy who is irreplaceable, talented, capable, kind and good. No one, male or female, can take his place in God’s plan. How could I know that about my son and at the same time tell him that women can do ANYTHING that men can?

We as women need a serious reality check. We have no problem saying that men can’t get pregnant, have babies, or nurse them. We hang these accomplishments and sufferings in our men's faces and demand gratitude and praise for our awesomeness. We use these amazing feats of female strength as proof that women are really the stronger sex. If men said half the things to us that we do to them, they would be labeled as misogynistic. Imagine if in your ward’s Mother’s Day program we were saying those things about men instead of women. Heads would roll. We as women can’t stand to hear men lifted on pedestals the way we so often are. That would be sexist!

(Now let me clarify that this is not in response to the “Ordain Women” movement, although I have been deeply disappointed by the reaction to that movement by our members. I fear many will be lost in that war as well. But let us not use the casualties of war as justification for our own testimonies. Those who have fallen away could be any of us. Perhaps we just haven’t had the question or trial that would break us.)

I want to live in a world where men and women are celebrated together… where our individual talents and abilities are vastly overshadowed by what we accomplish together as partners, marriages, families, and children of God. Gender is important, divine, and distinct but we are two halves of a whole. I think we are seeing the ramifications of a generation of feminism: men who are afraid to be men. I don’t want that for my boys.

I’m afraid it will be a long and hard fight to help them see their worth in this world we live in. In a world where single women are choosing to start families alone, reducing men to their genetic offerings. A world where women are acting like an oppressed minority. (I hate to break it to you but 50% doesn’t count as a minority.) Men are evil. Men are stupid.

We often talk about what the world is telling our daughters about their worth, but what about what we are telling our sons through our efforts to elevate our daughters? Men need to respect women but just as important is the need for women to respect men. I never in my life thought I would be saying those words! I have often fallen on the side of female empowerment. But as I see the institutions of marriage and family crumble, I have come to the realization that it is in large part due to the collapse of the male gender to the feminist agenda.

Today, I’m laying down my sword.

(Update: I originally posted a response to a few of the comments as an extra post on this blog. I deleted it. First and foremost because it was intended for a few people who commented below. They've seen it now. Secondly, because it became a complete distraction from the intent of this post. Men and women need each other. Period. I'm sorry to those who were immersed in the conversation on my other response post. Quite honestly, I just didn't feel like playing host to a feminism support group on my family blog. I respect you all but you are kind of exhausting. Don't you realize you are doing exactly what I said you would in the first paragraph? To be fair, a few of you were very nice. Thank you for your opinions. Realize that you may be seeing positive reaction to this on facebook and that makes you angry, but I only get to see the negative comments aside from a handful of family and friends who I pay to say nice things to me. ;) )

40 comments:

Shannon said...

My goodness, this is powerful, Stacy. Amen to all of it. Your words are eloquent and filled with a full measure of truth and I'm so glad you shared this. (I want this to be published somewhere so more people can read and understand!). Love you.

Jim Goostrey said...

Awesome post Stacy. Thanks!

Andrew Bates said...

Love it Stacy!

Brook Price said...

I really love this article. I've been saying this for a couple years now. Watching Disney make more and more animated movies where females are portrayed as awesome and lovely and brave, while their male counter parts are treacherous, selfish and clumsy is really getting on my nerves. Thank you for this great article!

MaRilla said...

Very well said. You are great with words. Thanks for sharing :)

Melissa Ortolani said...

Very good thoughts! Eye opening, in fact. We definitely need to teach respect on both sides of the line. BTW, its been too long!

Amy said...

Beautifully written and AMEN! I have often been disgusted by the media's portrayal of fathers. Thank you for expressing it in such a thoughtful and eloquent way!

Rockyaugat said...

Thank you for enlightening me with your well written and so true thoughts. I have 3 boys & 2 daughters that I am going to be more valiant in sharing this with. I want them to understand their divine nature & to share with each other the power of each gender. God made us different for many reasons! Love this!

Stacy Brady said...

I totally agree about Disney! I was just thinking about that the other day. When was the last time I saw a good male lead on a Disney movie? And the ones they do have are always overcoming some huge character flaw!

Stacy Brady said...

Hey friend! So good to hear from you. We need a roommate reunion! I vote you all head down south this winter for some warmth in St George. Great idea right?

Stacy Brady said...

Shannon! I miss you. We should talk soon. Ti voglio bene!

WonderBoy said...

Better late than never. Why have so many women been fooled by this movement for so long?

Monica said...

Thanks for having the faith to write truth and the courage to share it with the world. God bless you.

Abigail said...

"Women don't need men" doesn't follow "Women can work." This is a non-sequitor argument built around a larger appeal to emotion. While I understand the author's intention, being myself the mother of three amazing young men, I can't agree with her argument. We need one another not simply because of WHAT we can do but because we CHOOSE to do what we do jointly - in community with one another. If I work late and my husband makes dinner is his contribution less valuable? No. It's no less valuable than when the roles are reversed. Gender equality is about valuing one another. Period. If your son's value is tied to what he perceives as "men's work", his self-image will be rocked during periods of un- or underemployment. If his value is tied to priesthood, how will he feel when he is consistently 'passed over' for 'important' callings?

Please believe me when I say I feel empathy and understand your concern for your boy. I have spent years grappling with and taking to the Lord, the question "How do I help my sons know their worth?" I encourage you not to lay one sword down only to pick up another, to fight for a different ideology. The only solution I have been led to is to see my children for who they are individually. Adam, David, Michael, John, whatever your son's name is, see him for his innate and unique gifts that are not tied to cultural assumptions about gender. Is he bright? Artistic? Musical? Mechanically gifted? Find him underneath the skin, bones, and yes, even behind his sex. Find the value in that. Then, whether he does laundry or conquers Wall Street will be irrelevant. He will know his mother loves him.

Amy said...

I really empathize with your struggle but I can't agree with your conclusions. I am a mother to a rough-and-tumble son and a very prim-and-proper daughter. They lend themselves to the stereotypical gender roles quite well. However, I feel it's my responsibility as a mother to teach my children to follow their bliss, that they can be the greatest contributors to their communities while being who they are rather than what societally constructed roles tell them to be. If my son wants to be a stay-at-home dad, great for him! If my daughter wants to be involved with public service, that would be swell. We don't need to paint with artificial strokes here. Let us let our children be who God created them to be rather than what man-made societies construct them to be.

Stacy Brady said...

@abigail. I wasn't trying to tie it to simply the fact that women can or can't work. I was realizing what the phrase, "women can do anything men can do" would be telling my son. To my 5 year old men and women have separate roles... Not just work but in his young mind, that's the best way he could describe it. I was about to obliterate that principle in his mind just so he could know I'm capable of anything?.. I realized how selfish and wrong I was. Trust me it's not about what my son DOES, it's about who my son IS. I think you might have also missed the part where I said I wanted to look past individual talents and abilities and celebrate what we accomplish as males and females together. I'm sorry if my post was too short to flesh out this concept but I tend to get bored reading blogs that are too long. I just wanted to plant a seed. Thanks for your perspective. Truly, your point is a good one and maybe someone out there needed a reminder.

Alice said...

As a mother to four boys, I want to share my perspective. My boys know that some mothers stay home with their children, and some mothers work outside of the home. They know that some dads stay at home with their children and some dads work outside of the home. They know that being a boy or a girl doesn't determine what you can do in life. Knowing this doesn't diminish their value as males. They know that their dad and I have different qualities (some traditional male/female and some where we're reversed) which compliment each other, and we are both needed. Not because one of us fills all the womanly roles and one of us fills all the masculine roles, but because together we fill all the roles needed to have a happy and successful home.

We can teach our children to become what God meant for them to be, even if it's not what tradition says they ought to be.

Alice said...

My kids know that girls are capable of doing anything they are capable of doing. And it doesn't diminish them at all. I want them to know that their future wives are their equals, and that they can arrange their marriage in the way that works best for them and their partner. Whether it's the traditional way or not.

Melessa Gregg said...

I am a proud LDS mother of 5 great kids, 4 girls and a boy. I am also a very competent Museum Director. The two roles aren't mutually exclusive. My husband and I are adult converts, so perhaps we are doing this wrong. But my husband and son aren't afraid to be men. They also aren't afraid to wash dishes, do laundry, prepare meals, and tend to small children as well as the more stereotypical "manly" household duties so that all seven of us share in the housework duties equally since both my husband and I do work outside the home and need their assistance to keep things tidy.

Stacy Brady said...

@Amy I'm halfway with you here. Our current society is a free for all as far as gender roles go, so constructing your children's expectations based on society would be insane. And while I want my children to be happy, the phrase "follow their bliss" sounds a lot like "eat drink and be merry". Being a mom is not always fun. Providing for a family is not always "blissful". This is exactly the type of philosophy that has led to countless divorces, abortions, abuse, etc. The part that I agree with you on is raising kids to be what God intended. To me, though, that means each gender has a specific purpose... We may change roles now and again but it doesn't change who we are and the fact that we need each other.

Amberly said...

There is nothing wrong with saying women can do anything that men can do! And believe it or not, it works the other way around too. Men CAN do everything a woman can do. No, they don't have uteruses and can't carry babies, but I don't see anyone pointing out that women can't fertilize an egg and take on a supporting role during a pregnancy either. That's one way in which men and women are different, simply because our bodies are built differently. Otherwise, men and women are free to take on the roles they choose. That doesn't make your son (or any of my three sons) any less significant in the world or in their personal relationships. In fact, it liberates them to choose what being a man will mean for them without being bound to any traditional gender roles. It's okay to say women don't need men. Women are free to choose if they want and need men. And men are free to choose if they want and need women. It only becomes a "war" when we deny each other the right to choose our own roles.

Stacy Brady said...

@Amberly We will probably have to agree to disagree on most of this. There are divine differences between men and women beyond the physical. I'm not trying to define what that means for you and your family in this post but that is something I know. I'm also betting we come from different faiths. Which is perfectly fine but it also means we disagree about women and men needing each other. The bible and Book of Mormon are pretty clear on that one.

Stacy Brady said...

@Melessa Gregg - My dad was a late convert and my mom was raised by inactive parents. I have nothing but respect for you there. :) Your kids are so lucky to have your examples of faith and humility. I know I was blessed to have my parents. I posted a response on this blog that might clarify a few things for you.

http://jnsbrady.blogspot.com/2014/07/enough-is-enough-part-ii.html

I'm glad your boys and husband aren't being affected by this "war". That probably has a lot to do with you and your positive example and love. Congratulations on that. My post wasn't about whether or not women choose to work though. It's about mutual respect. You sound like you've got that down.

Jessica Helen said...

Abigail, hat's off to you stranger. I had a very difficult time making my way through this entire article because the emotional, black and white approach to it secludes me (and people like me - who don't see things are cleanly packaged as proclaimed above)...and therefore the whole article feels irrelevant. I feel like it largely represents a logical fallacy. It assumes that every single woman who isn't the author and believes in women's equality in today's society is trying to replace men and attack her little boy....and that's inaccurate.

Mindy said...

I have a daughter and two sons and my hope is that gender will not define what they can and cannot do or have or desire. Giving birth and nursing are awesome things my daughter can choose to do, but my sons can choose nurturing as well. I don't want them to be defined by what society or religion or any social construct tells t hem a "real" man or woman is or should be. Feminists are not waging war on men or on the family. I am strengthening my home, family, community, and self by speaking up about gender disparities, celebrating diversity, and focusing on what people CAN do. I am LDS and I find the focus on sex and hemlines over virtue and true modesty disturbing - both the messages sent to my daughter and sons. I want to talk about positive body image, self respect, and self discipline in a way that isn't so gender focused. I want my children to navigate the future with open hearts and minds and not face it with the fear we instill of the "world." I am not waging a war when I encourage my kids to think outside of gender boxes. I am being an ambassador for a future that is not obsessed with patriarchy and gender roles, but focuses equality (not sameness) respecting differences, and pushing past damaging stereotypes (about both women and men). It deeply saddens me that the gospel I love is so often ruled by fear of the other, wars on family and gender, and more when so much of the "fight" is advocacy for better living standards, justice, and respect and confidence for all.

Stacy Brady said...

@Jessica Helen - If this article feels irrelevant to you, then it probably is. And I'm not talking about equality for women... I'm talking about the attitude that women are better than men. I'm pretty sure we agree there that we are not. I have had plenty of experiences of being treated badly or kept from opportunities simply because I am a woman. It sucks. I don't agree with it. I'm saying we are overcompensating in our approach and it's hurting our boys.

Stacy Brady said...

One last thought for anyone who cares to read this deeply into the comments section:

“There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems reasonable and right.
“The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. Our local leaders must deal with all three of them with ever increasingly frequency. In each case, the members who are hurting have the conviction that the Church somehow is doing something wrong to members or that the Church is not doing enough for them.”

- Apostle Boyd K. Packer, “Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council,” May 18, 1993

I think clearly we are not talking about equality between men and women in the above reference to feminism. Equality is not a danger to the church. It is DOCTRINE in the church. So why would an apostle of the Lord say that feminism is hurting the membership of the church if it only meant equality? My definition of feminism is beyond making sure women have equal rights.

Alice said...

That talk by President Packer was over 20 years ago. Attitudes change. I think history can help us understand this point. The first wave of feminism took place late 19th/early 20th century and revolved around women's suffrage. The second wave was mid to late 1900's and focused on things like reproductive rights, and a revolt (you could say, although I'm overly simplifying here) against domesticity. Third wave feminism is more about giving people the ability to choose for themselves what their role should be and how to arrange their life.

In that context, I think it's easy to see how President Packer would have seen feminism as a threat to the stability of the family, but he was talking about feminism at the time, not how most of us define it today.

Parenting can be pretty hard, (captain obvious, huh?) and I think it's easy to judge or feel judged by others when we aren't doing something the way other people do them. Your approach with your son isn't the way I'm approaching things with my sons, I can tell from your post that you care deeply about the emotional well-being of you son.

We can and should always be searching and praying about how to best meet the needs of our children, and I applaud you for obviously caring about it enough to study the issue.

Alice said...

And pardon my typos. :)

Alice said...

I also wanted to comment on the "follow your bliss" comment. I could be wrong, but I think Amy's comment was quoting Joseph Cambell. He doesn't mean "do what's fun all the time". He means do what you are meant to do. After being misunderstood so often, (according to wikipedia) he said he should have said, "follow your blisters". :)

Stacy Brady said...

@Alice - That's hilarious. (the blisters thing) I hadn't heard that one. And I think the response to this has been interesting. Having been raised in the 90's I feel like the "second wave" and "third wave" of feminism all melded together. To me, and so many others, the definition of feminism and the reality of feminism are two totally different things. I see it as a Trojan Horse. It's packaged so harmlessly and logically but it's a slippery slope to hate and apostasy. (Please no Kate Kelly arguments!!)

I, for one, love that we are talking about gender roles in the church lately. There are a lot of things that I have thought about that could change without changing any doctrine, but my testimony doesn't rest on those changes. They are stupid things like: Could a woman read the statistical report at General Conference? Will we ever have more women general authorities than we do now? I have asked these questions to other members and gotten HORRIFIED looks and responses for flirting with a DANGEROUS line. (Which is comical) Most of the time I'm on that end of the spectrum so it's funny that I'm now being attacked for being on this side for once! Such is life.

Alice said...

I don't know any feminists today who identify with second wave feminism, but I regularly hear the stereotype of the angry feminist who wants to destroy the family.

I think anything we do could be considered a slippery slope, but we all have agency. We can choose where we go each step of the way. I hope that we don't have to reject the good because we're afraid it might lead somewhere bad.

As a political moderate, a feminist, and a mormon, I totally get you with the being attacked from both sides. There's always someone who thinks I'm doing it wrong. :)

Alysa Revell said...
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Alysa Revell said...

Wow. You sure do think little of men to insist that you (and all women) need to make themselves small in order to prop men up. Men really ARE big strong amazing people! They don't need us to keep out of their boardrooms and gold courses in order to feel secure. If you're hanging with such a loser class of men you have to feign weakness, you outta get out more. There are lots and lots of wonderful guys in the world who want to work and play with equals.

Alysa Revell said...

*Golf* courses, not *gold* courses. (But if gold courses exist, men don't need us to stay off of them, either. They can handle our awesomeness. Seriously.)

brit said...

I don't think anyone should derive their self worth off of the weakness (or perceived weakness of others). I won't teach my daughters that they are important because men need them and I won't teach my sons that their value is dependant on incapability of women. I will teach my children that they are intrinsically valuable (even children of God if you will). Then if my son never marries or marries a financially independent women, I hope is confidence and sense of self worth will remain intact.

I am a professional and my husband stays home and cares for the children. I am so grateful that my mother-in-law raised a man who was secure enough with his value that he was able to happily make the choice that was best for our family. We are each willingly relying on each other for family's various needs. My husband is embracing and excelling at caring for our home and child and is very satisfied. He feels lucky to have this opportunity. I love knowing my kids are being raised with examples of how many wonderful possibilities are available to them.

Stacy Brady said...

This is my last string of responses before I quite literally go on a vacation tomorrow. I'll be out for a week.

@Alice - I have enjoyed our conversation... here and on the other post. You are level headed and I like that. If you really stand for what you say you do, I hope there are more women like you on your side.

@Alysa Revell - That's a bit of a stretch. I never said play small. I never said we shouldn't work. I never said we shouldn't assume any traditionally held male role. That's up to you and Heavenly Father to decide. I said we need to watch what messages we are sending to our sons through our WORDS. If you want men to know you can do anything... show them. You don't have to beat them over the head with it. And I'm sorry but the "loser class of men" (as you so charitably put it) that I hang out with are actually high schoolers. I teach an after school program for at risk youth. You may not see the problem but I do. Also, where are these gold courses of which you speak? I'm way interested in that. :)

@brit - Where is everyone getting the idea that I want women to pretend to be weak?! Sheesh. I also never said that our worth is determined by our necessity to the opposite gender. I said we need each other. That's a fact not a determinate of our self worth. And kuddos to you for making that lifestyle work for your family. Honestly, it's none of my business what arrangement your family has come up with but I don't know a lot of families that could handle that. You must be very strong because I'm sure you get a lot of flack for that. Sorry if you catch a lot of judgement and ignorance. I understand.

Alice said...

Stacy- I've appreciated our conversation as well. I hope you have a wonderful vacation.

There are many women just like me. :)

Also, I hope you can see that I'm on your side. We may have different perspectives, and different ideas, but we can still support each other as women and sisters in the gospel. (That's a feminist thing too.) :)

Jacqueline Ann said...
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Jacqueline Ann said...

I agree with Alice completely. Also, a point to how thinking changes with time: black men did not used to have to opportunity to have the priesthood, but later that was changed when society began to. Also, that is not a comment towards women having the priesthood, just saying how the overall thinking of society chances