Mormon breast implants and Jewish Dowries
August 27, 2015 10:02 AM   Subscribe

 
Is is just me, or is this article literally unreadable? I can't scroll down in Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.
posted by grimmelm at 10:09 AM on August 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


Wow. This is really fascinating! (Seriously.) How did it end up in Time?
posted by Naberius at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


works fine for me in win 7 chrome Version 44.0.2403.157 m. it did a bunch of weird re-sizings when it loaded but worked fine after that
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:15 AM on August 27, 2015


I had no trouble in Safari, but do see that it isn't working in Chrome. Not sure what's up with that.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was able to scroll through the article in Chrome... after disabling AdBlockPlus. :(
posted by metaquarry at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Months later, still neck-deep in Mormon research, I got lucky again.

IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN

A couple of years ago I read Dollars And Sex, which was...interesting, but depressing. A lot of it brought to mind that Marge Simpson quote: "It's true...but you're not supposed to say it."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


For anyone still having problems, it wasn't a problem for me with NoScript activated.
posted by miguelcervantes at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2015


tl;dr: patriarchy prioritizes male lives and assigns all available resources to men, so women find themselves in competition with each other for access to men and male resources.
posted by Avenger at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2015 [43 favorites]


I got this to load on the fourth browser I tried (mobile Chrome). Took a while to load.

Article is fascinating as hell, though. I had no idea this lopsided apostasy ratio was a thing!
posted by selfnoise at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2015


It works readily in FireFox. But deals with the marrying hardships of those deeply committed to marriage within their religious community..Increasingly, I imagine, those having difficulties might look for marriage outside the more orthodox group of their religion. Or leave it altogether.
posted by Postroad at 10:28 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or, as in the case of Mormonism, you literally can't get into heaven without a man to vouch for you, so you better wear makeup and learn how to cook, ladies.
posted by Avenger at 10:28 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It works readily in FireFox. But deals with the marrying hardships of those deeply committed to marriage within their religious community..Increasingly, I imagine, those having difficulties might look for marriage outside the more orthodox group of their religion. Or leave it altogether.

The problem is that women tend to have a harder time leaving organized religion, on account of it being a support structure. Though, as the article does point out with the number of LDS women marrying outside the faith, that just makes it harder, not impossible.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is a great article. Very fun read. Also, it is to lol:

“Yes,” she wrote, “spiritual beauty makes a woman’s eyes glow and casts a luminous sheen over her face; there is no beauty like a pure soul. Makeup, however, goes a long way in both correcting facial flaws..."
posted by prefpara at 10:38 AM on August 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


patriarchy prioritizes male lives and assigns all available resources to men, so women find themselves in competition with each other for access to men and male resources.

Very true but the Hasidic community is likely more patriarchal than the Modern Orthodox and the problem is much worse for non-Hasidim.
posted by Octaviuz at 10:39 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I'm reading the article correctly, it boils down to: College-educated women want to marry college-educated men, and religious women want to marry religious men. There aren't as many colleged educated or religious men as there are women.

Is that a fair summary?

It's interesting that men, who presumably have a power imbalance in their favour within patriarchal religious communities, are more likely to leave those communities. Why is that?
posted by clawsoon at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's interesting that men, who presumably have a power imbalance in their favour within patriarchal religious communities, are more likely to leave those communities. Why is that?

For precisely that reason? They have a higher social standing, more mobility, and less to lose.
posted by selfnoise at 10:42 AM on August 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


If I'm reading the article correctly, it boils down to: College-educated women want to marry college-educated men, and religious women want to marry religious men. There aren't as many colleged educated or religious men as there are women.

Yes. I suppose it's a better reason than "I'm just ugly," though small comfort to some of us.
posted by Melismata at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2015


clawsoon: I'd guess because the men weren't raised in those communities to believe that they had no options in life.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2015 [18 favorites]


i know many mormon women that for one reason or another haven't found husbands and likely won't. this is treated inside of the family/faith as entirely the women's failures and they are encouraged to keep praying and going to the singles ward - maybe visit utah - but are never encouraged to find happiness within themselves or outside of the religion. they are mostly considered old maids without hope, being told to wait for their joys in the afterlife when god will supply them with an eternal marriage. these women are 27-33 years old.
posted by nadawi at 10:44 AM on August 27, 2015 [21 favorites]


tl;dr: patriarchy prioritizes male lives and assigns all available resources to men, so women find themselves in competition with each other for access to men and male resources.
Avenger

That's...not what the article says.

I mean, it's a general underlying problem in society, but you should actually read the article. It's very interesting. The focus on the effects of demographics on relationships and sexual mores is fascinating.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:44 AM on August 27, 2015 [21 favorites]


and yeah - the reason more men leave than women is they aren't encouraged to believe from the very beginning of their lives that have one single goal (get married and have kids) and are useless as people if they fuck that up in any way (even if 'fucking that up' is getting molested by male leaders when you're 8yrs old).
posted by nadawi at 10:45 AM on August 27, 2015 [12 favorites]


I wonder how much of the fact that women are generally more religious than men relates to the distribution of emotional labor? Keeping up religious traditions, indoctornating children in religious belief, etc all fall into the category of emotional labor. Especially in organized priesthood where typically being a church authority pays less than a secular job, so where not forbidden it often falls to women. I note that many Catholic parishes have women who are priests in all but name, and serve all the non-transubstian roles in their churches. And, in religions where women can be officially recognized as church h leaders they are on the rise.

All of which looks like emotional labor again.

Not that it is the whole story of course, but I think it is a component.

I wonder how much longer the Mormons can hold out before giving women leadership and Priest roles.
posted by sotonohito at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2015 [23 favorites]


Mormons DID have a solution to address this demographic issue: polygamy. Specifically polygyny. But they had to give it all up to avoid the invasion by US Federal troops and in order to get traction for Utah's statehood.
posted by Quaversalis at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Per the article, I'm surprised there aren't more women going to atheist meetings.

Part of the issue is that as time goes on it becomes more and more practical to simply never get married. Cooking and cleaning consume less and less of a person's time. As long as you're vaguely middle-class you can simply pay get things done. Which further intensifies the trend to waiting for a "better" mate to come along.

What is funny to me is that when it comes to marriage I'm a better Mormon than a lot of Mormons! Ha! Take that!

For precisely that reason? They have a higher social standing, more mobility, and less to lose.

Quite the opposite I think. The patriarchal nature of these organizations massively concentrates power so there's no loss of status for men to drop out of these organizations. They'll never win, so why compete? It's like in polygamous groups - young men are forced out. Except in this case they could stay, but there isn't any point as there's no incentive to stay.
posted by GuyZero at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wonder how much longer the Mormons can hold out before giving women leadership and Priest roles.

Well, the Catholic Church has held out for about 2000 years.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:49 AM on August 27, 2015 [12 favorites]


I've seen assertions that this demographic shift is tied to concentrations of environmental pollutants which make men in North America more likely to produce sperm with X chromosomes (sorry, no cite at the moment). That's scary.

On the other hand, in other countries—I'm talking China and India—with the same or worse concentrations of pollutants, there is a strong cultural tendency toward female infanticide that increases the male to female ratio to nearly 2 to 1. The prospects for women to marry above their birth station is much better, but the patriarchy strikes again; those cultures put those women on panopticon pedestals so that they may tightly police them and collectively punish any hint of misbehavior.

The Chinese term for men who will not reproduce to carry on the family name due to unavailability of females is "bare branches." Historically, lots of bare branches lead to social unrest if the government doesn't take action and wars of conquest if the government does take action.

Right now we have two nuclear powers with large conventional armies and the highest concentration of frustrated men in the world sharing a border.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:50 AM on August 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


There are specific reasons there are more women than men in these two religions that are explained in the article:
1) Mormon men quit because they don't want to go on a mission (which isn't required of women)
2) Orthodox men want to marry a younger woman, and due to the extremely rapid growth rate of the Orthodox community, there is a glut of younger people (this clearly can't last forever)

The point is that broader US upper-class society may look like this in a few years if the discrepancy between male and female college attendance continues. I'm not sure I believe that myself since I think women will easily adapt to marrying non-college-educated men, especially since college attendance is no longer a sure shot at financial success. But that's the article's argument.
posted by miyabo at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


as an ex-mormon woman, i don't go to atheist meetings because i don't see a reason to sign up for more jackass misogyny.
posted by nadawi at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2015 [88 favorites]


The problem is that women tend to have a harder time leaving organized religion, on account of it being a support structure.

As far as I can tell, the various privileges men have tend to be economic rather than social -- in fact, if the recent thread on suicide and men is any indication, there are many men who feel socially and emotionally isolated, which is something a religious community should in theory be helpful with (and, in practice, Mormonism certainly can be).
It's interesting that men, who presumably have a power imbalance in their favour within patriarchal religious communities, are more likely to leave those communities. Why is that?
For precisely that reason? They have a higher social standing, more mobility, and less to lose.


This doesn't make sense. Higher social standing isn't a magic passport you take with you everywhere, unless we're talking about some underlying "alpha" construct that doesn't have much to do with a church. Higher standing in the religious community left behind *is* more to lose.
posted by weston at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would think it's also to do with, if your "job" is family (i.e. you've been raised to think you must have a bunch of kids, and must take care of your aging parents, disabled siblings, etc), you're going to stay close to family for logistical reasons. Having a bunch of kids is a lot easier in practical terms if you're near your mom, your sisters, and in a community of same-culture stay-home moms who can swap childcare easily etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Statistically speaking, an atheist meeting may be one of the best places for single women to meet available men."

Oh. Goodie.

From one of the Orthodox Jewish mothers in the article:
“Yes,” she wrote, “spiritual beauty makes a woman’s eyes glow and casts a luminous sheen over her face; there is no beauty like a pure soul. Makeup, however, goes a long way in both correcting facial flaws and accentuating one’s assets, and if my cursory inspection was indeed accurate (and I apologize if the girls used such natural makeup that I simply couldn’t tell), barely any of these girls seemed to have made a huge effort to deck themselves out. Mothers, this is my plea to you: There is no reason in today’s day and age with the panoply of cosmetic and surgical procedures available, why any girl can’t be transformed into a swan. Borrow the money if you have to; it’s an investment in your daughter’s future, her life.”
This is horrible. Another mother responds:
“Dear Mrs. Halberstam, I am also a Jewish mother,” it began. “But I no longer share your joyful anticipation of walking my child down to the chuppa [the Jewish wedding canopy]. She died last year, of anorexia. It all began six years ago, when, at the age of 21, a shadchan who professed to be as well-meaning as you do suggested that she lose a few pounds (she was a size 6 at the time) in order to make herself more ‘marketable’ (that is the term she used then)."
The article goes on to note that "Anorexia has become a quiet scourge of the Orthodox Jewish community. A report on the National Eating Disorders Association website described the intense pressure that single Orthodox women feel to stay thin during the matchmaking process. NEDA cited a study by eating disorder specialist Dr. Ira Sacker, who found that one in nineteen girls in one Orthodox community had been diagnosed with an eating disorder—a rate 50 percent above the national average."

sotonohito: "Especially in organized priesthood where typically being a church authority pays less than a secular job, so where not forbidden it often falls to women."

The Italian word for this is "feminizazione" (pink-collar-ization, maybe) and as a profession loses prestige or money, men leave it in droves, and it becomes more available to women, which leads even more men to leave it as it feminizes and thereby loses more prestige. Mainline Protestant ministers is a paradigmatic case, where it is now actively difficult to get men into ministry as being the town minister is no longer a high-status job.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:53 AM on August 27, 2015 [25 favorites]


(That's why more college-educated Mormon women don't leave Utah, was what I'm saying.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:53 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fascinating article. The pressure to marry strictly within their respective religious communities seems to be the common thread here. If these golden boys got tossed into the general population dating pool, they're suddenly not getting dowries-as-signing-bonuses or girls desparate to surgically upgrade their bodies to please them and save themselves from spinsterhood.
posted by dr_dank at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Per the article, I'm surprised there aren't more women going to atheist meetings.

I'm not, for two reasons.

One, religion isn't just faith, it's also a support network. This tends to be more important for women then men, which is why they find it harder to leave.

Two, the atheist community is incredibly hostile to women.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2015 [39 favorites]


That's a fascinating map in the article. There's a lot more to explore than just Utah. I wish I knew more about Bay Area demographics, for example, because I see some slightly-more-men areas (the ones we keep hearing about that are full of brogrammers, I assume?) which are not too far from some many-more-women areas.

A whole series of articles could be written on that map, I suspect.
posted by clawsoon at 10:55 AM on August 27, 2015


This doesn't make sense. Higher social standing isn't a magic passport you take with you everywhere, unless we're talking about some underlying "alpha" construct that doesn't have much to do with a church. Higher standing in the religious community left behind *is* more to lose.
weston

It could be that men get support in the community that enable them to accomplish more, and that from that accomplished vantage point it's easier to leave. If your religious community helped you on the path to being a lawyer or engineer or something, you don't lose those skills and qualifications when you leave the faith.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:57 AM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I didn't know about the misogyny, but I always figured atheist meetings would be like those "child-free" groups; So Very Pleased With Themselves Societies.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:03 AM on August 27, 2015 [18 favorites]


Is is just me, or is this article literally unreadable? I can't scroll down in Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

Not working for me, either, in Firefox.
I have both ABP and Ghostery running, but I have no clue which of the 14 trackers it's blocking might get the page working.

ABP is also blocking three items identified as data:application/javascript;base64, which I have no clue about.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:05 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Per the article, I'm surprised there aren't more women going to atheist meetings.

I got really tired of men having conversations with my breasts about programming at these meetings, and so I stopped attending them.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2015 [27 favorites]


Hmm..Maybe the world needs more queer people in it to make up for this hetero imbalance :-)
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


You're nailing it, Eyebrows McGee. People start hiring women in the workplace because they're cheaper; oh, wait, now it's a female profession and not as cool. In my lifetime, I've watched the local MBTA bus drivers go from white men to white women to black men to black women. It's great that all people can get jobs, which they couldn't before, but you just know they weren't hired for altruistic reasons.

This whole "too many women?" issue is not a new problem, btw. In college 25 years ago I took a sociology course as part of my women's studies minor, and read this excellent book. Has a lot of good theories.
posted by Melismata at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was all ready to say "I hope this isn't another 'a woman over 30 is more likely to get killed by a terrorist than marry' article" (for the record, I was there for that original iteration in Newsweek) - and then I RTFA and found it fascinating and not anti-feminist.

I am also very thankful to run in mostly secular, urban and suburban circles where non-marriage is an option - as is interracial marriage, interfaith marriage, marrying a younger man, college-educated women marrying men who don't have degrees, etc. The women I know have so many more options than the women talked about in this article.

It's the lack of options that get to me - these women have to marry someone older and who shares their faith. None of this "you go to church, honey, and I'll sleep in and watch the football game" that is more familiar to me. Combine these lack of options with the idea that a woman's only purpose is to get married and have kids, and I really feel bad for them being caught in a no-win situation.

As to why the women in these religions don't leave - I agree with LobsterMitten, I think it's because their job is family, and they feel that they can't leave family behind - if they don't marry, then their family-job is to be a spinster aunt and selflessly caregive for their parents, siblings, etc.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


The article examines specific sub-populations where there are an excess of women compared to men and the resulting dating/marriage difficulties for heterosexual women within those sub-populations. What it doesn't mention is that mathematically these sub-populations must be matched by other sub-populations with an excess of men. If Mormon women in Utah outnumber Mormon men in Utah by 50%, then (given that the LDS is the predominant religion in Utah) non-Mormon men must significantly outnumber non-Mormon women in Utah. Are the dating dynamics similar, but reversed for the non-Mormons? Can non-Mormon women be extra picky about their mates due to the imbalance?
posted by tdismukes at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Haha, I'm picturing the atheist meetings as being populated by an enormous number of fedora wearers which I think is common enough to become stereotype but I think it's also a bit overstated.

The intersection between atheists and misogyny does seem to be moderately common, although based upon the amount of misogyny among religious types I wonder if there is just a poor demographic split between men that are not asshole misogynists and those that are.
posted by vuron at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Melismata - I read that book for a college class, too! I highly recommend it. It gives a whole new insight to this Horrible Histories Wife Swap episode.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Less Dawkinses, more PZ Myerses.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


Very true but the Hasidic community is likely more patriarchal than the Modern Orthodox and the problem is much worse for non-Hasidim.

The article explains this. Hasidic Jews typically marry a partner of the same age, whereas Yeshivish Jews typically have a slightly older man marry a slightly younger woman (the averages are 22 and 19, respectively). But since the Orthodox Jewish population is increasing, this means that in any given year the pool of 22-year-old men is smaller than the pool of 19-year-old women.

And that's the problem. Patriarchy comes in because the Orthodox community is, unsurprisingly, blaming societal mores rather than basic demographics for the problem.
posted by mightygodking at 11:17 AM on August 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, do we know how prison populations are figured in here? (I.e., it says Utah has more men than women overall, but half-again as many Mormon women as men. Are some of those extra non-Mormon men in prisons, military facilities, etc - where they're in some sense not part of the general population?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:21 AM on August 27, 2015


Patriarchy comes in because the Orthodox community is, unsurprisingly, blaming societal mores rather than basic demographics for the problem.

The Yeshiva World: There is no Shidduch Crisis!
What we on the other hand are experiencing, for the lack of a stronger, harsher, word, is a Shidduch Catastrophe! Who in their wildest dreams can begin to describe the tzaar, the stabbing pain, that our precious bnos Yisrael endure every day
...
Our problem has a relatively simple root: the age gap between our chassanim and kallahs. Since our community is in a blessed growth mode, each subsequent year sees a larger population than the last. Each year’s population is split relatively evenly between boys and girls, and so every girl should be able to find a match within her age group. However, we have nurtured a system where girls look for matches in the age group several years older than theirs — which means, very simply, that there will not be enough candidates to meet the need.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:22 AM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


dr_dank: "The pressure to marry strictly within their respective religious communities seems to be the common thread here. If these golden boys got tossed into the general population dating pool, they're suddenly not getting dowries-as-signing-bonuses or girls desparate to surgically upgrade their bodies to please them and save themselves from spinsterhood."

The book is actually about the larger issue -- there aren't enough college-educated men for the number of college-educated women anymore; in many poor communities, there aren't enough men with jobs for the women with jobs (in part due to the war on drugs making so many men unemployable). And so on.

I think the various social lurches that include a) women achieving more education than men; b) low-skill men's jobs (i.e., ditch-digging) disappearing to robots while low-skill women's jobs (i.e., nurse assistant) remain; c) manufacturing jobs (primarily filled by men) leaving overseas; and d) the war on drugs, which disproportionately affected men has left a number of communities with an "oversupply" of eligible women compared to eligible men.

Plus it's socially acceptable for older men to marry younger women, but less so the other direction; it's also much more acceptable for men to marry "down" in education or socioeconomic status than for women; and women's childbearing years are considerably shorter than men's. Men feel like they don't have to make a choice and settle down because there's no real time limit on their fertility and while they keep getting older the college co-eds remain the same age! So you get 40-year-old male lawyers who feel like they've got the pick of 25-year-old women, and ignore the 35-year-old female lawyers in the office down the hall.

I mean I think a lot of these guys who are dating a 9.5 when they're 30 and hold out for a 9.7 but instead start to see that only 8.8s ... 8.5s ... 7.2s ... want to date them as they age end up ultimately unhappy, because they're always waiting for the next best thing and can never accept the good thing they have because they know they can do better ... but their sad-sack moment is 20 years down the road when they realize nobody wants to date them anymore.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:29 AM on August 27, 2015 [31 favorites]


Oh, no, I should have read further as to what was happening to the men -
over the past twenty-five years, Utah men have been quitting the LDS church in unusually large numbers. [...] the growing exodus of men from the LDS church is an unexpected by-product of the growing importance of the mission in Mormon life. Serving a mission used to be elective; now it’s a prerequisite for leadership.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Mormon men do not go on missions, which typically entail a mix of community service and proselytizing. Mormon men are being asked to serve missions at precisely the time in their lives—late teens and early twenties—when sociologists say men are most susceptible to dropping out of organized religion.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:30 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm picturing the atheist meetings as being populated by an enormous number of fedora wearers which I think is common enough to become stereotype but I think it's also a bit overstated.

Yeah, in my experience in-person atheist and especially humanist meetings aren't lacking for women, but the in-person groups tend to be older and not necessarily as useful for twenty-somethings looking for romance. Not sure about newer movements like Sunday Assembly.
posted by asperity at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2015


There Just Aren’t Enough of Him.

Anybody can get married. My Indian aunt can get you a groom via matrimonial sites within the half hour.

It's finding a truly good man who is worth being married to that has always, always been the most difficult task. Someone who doesn't leave you yearning for a better man, someone who understands you, treats you with respect, is reliable and doesn't try to catch a baseball from the stands while holding your newborn. That guy is hard to find.

I'll read the rest of the article now. I had to get my eyeballs to stop rolling back in their sockets.
posted by discopolo at 11:40 AM on August 27, 2015 [15 favorites]


I didn't know about the misogyny, but I always figured atheist meetings would be like those "child-free" groups; So Very Pleased With Themselves Societies.

Funny how no one's got anything good to say about atheist meetings. I don't, either; in my [limited, Seattle] experience they involved a lot of Feeling Oppressed (which, again... Seattle, so, not so much), Talking at Length About Things Only the Speaker Cares About, and Inventing Things to Have Arguments About.
posted by gurple at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


And, in religions where women can be officially recognized as church leaders they are on the rise.

Curious for the source for this. If I haven't misunderstood your point, Mormons aren't having any problems increasing membership anywhere in the world (with an all-male priesthood), and the stats I've seen elsewhere show that membership in those Christian sects that allow women's ordination (or whatever equivalent the various groups call it) is unmistakably on the decline.

So if I've understood you rightly--and if the author of the piece is correct that the gender imbalance is due to LDS men leaving (the article didn't really convince me on this point)--I don't think opening one or both of the Mormon priesthood classes to women would change this very particular dating/marriage situation at all.
posted by resurrexit at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole concept of "atheist meetings" strikes me as odd; if one does not believe in something, why would you meet about it? Most atheists would simply not include religion in their lives, and leave it at that; there is no need to organized, meet, discuss, or really do anything about it. TLDR: if you're meeting about it, you may be doing it wrong.
posted by Blackanvil at 11:52 AM on August 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


Funny how no one's got anything good to say about atheist meetings.
One assumes that is in part because the people who are likely to attend such a meeting would seem to place a disproportunate emphasis on their belief system. I'm an atheist, but I've never even heard of an atheist meeting and I can't imagine a reason why I would attend one if I ever was invited to one. I don't see it as the kind of interest I'd particularly seek to discuss. I feel the same about the previously mentioned child-free thing or Mensa meetings. I'm quite sure that the people who chose to attend them aren't going to be the people I'm especially interested in talking to. I need a meeting of people who were qualified to go to those meetings and thought they would be a terrible, terrible idea.
posted by Lame_username at 11:57 AM on August 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'll read the rest of the article now. I had to get my eyeballs to stop rolling back in their sockets.
discopolo

I think you somehow missed the preceding paragraph. That "There Just Aren’t Enough of Him" line was referring to the apparent reluctance of college-educated women to marry non-college-educated men, and the fact that there are fewer such educated men than women.

It wasn't a general statement about all people.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2015


Funny how no one's got anything good to say about atheist meetings.

TLDR: if you're meeting about it, you may be doing it wrong.


Eh, the ones I've been to were mostly about arranging for speakers and discussions about different topics and providing a ready-made group to invite to parties. I never found a group I really clicked with, but I enjoyed the meetings and the people were friendly. Not all that different from a book club, Toastmasters club, or crafting group in terms of how it felt to participate, and less structured than any of those.

And that's pretty much the appeal: community that's not really centered around one specific interest or hobby. Religion fills that for a lot of people, but there are obviously people for whom that's not an option.
posted by asperity at 11:59 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I haven't misunderstood your point, Mormons aren't having any problems increasing membership anywhere in the world (with an all-male priesthood), and the stats I've seen elsewhere show that membership in those Christian sects that allow women's ordination (or whatever equivalent the various groups call it) is unmistakably on the decline.

I think you have misunderstood the point. I read it as 'female priest-like religious figures are on the rise within religions that allow them' rather than 'religions which allow female priest-like figures are on the rise among the general population'.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2015


and if the author of the piece is correct that the gender imbalance is due to LDS men leaving (the article didn't really convince me on this point)

Here's an interesting statement out of BYU that totally ignores any leaving-the-church disparity:

At the youngest ages, males outnumber females by a slight margin in the U.S. membership. A higher percentage of females converting to the Church creates a more equal gender ratio in the twenties. Higher female conversion and higher male mortality rates shift the numbers in favor of females in the thirties. At older ages, females outnumber males by a substantial margin.

I don't buy the "higher male mortality" bit as a huge factor, at least in for Mormons in their 30s, but I wonder how much is accounted for by higher female conversion.
posted by gurple at 12:01 PM on August 27, 2015


I'm so glad the author finally got to the point about the epidemic of anorexia and bulimia in Orthodox communities. The more conservative, the higher the rates get. It is also underreported, undertreated and in a culture that has so much to do with food, fasting and purity, it's only going to become a bigger issue. How do you think these anorexic and bulimic young women are going to treat their daughters?

There are now several in-patient eating disorder programs specifically geared toward orthodox Jews. And a documentary on eating disorders among orthodox girls.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


My wife has a Masters and I have only a high school diploma. We must be outliers or something.
posted by jonmc at 12:12 PM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're nailing it, Eyebrows McGee. People start hiring women in the workplace because they're cheaper; oh, wait, now it's a female profession and not as cool.

I can't remember where I read this, but male nurses are getting paid more than female nurses. Like a male nurse anesthetist is getting paid a lot more than female nurse anesthetists. It's terrible.
posted by discopolo at 12:12 PM on August 27, 2015


I don't think opening one or both of the Mormon priesthood classes to women would change this very particular dating/marriage situation at all.

The point is for these women, getting married and having kids is their appointed role and there's no other role for the devout woman -- so if she can't get married that's it. It makes women desperate enough to mutilate themselves. Give them another role, another way to express their faith and be valued within their family and community, and they won't feel they need to self-harm.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:13 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't remember where I read this, but male nurses are getting paid more than female nurses. Like a male nurse anesthetist is getting paid a lot more than female nurse anesthetists. It's terrible.

Male Registered Nurses Make Thousands More in Salary Than Female Counterparts

"Salary differences also existed by position, ranging from $3,956 for middle management to $17,290 for nurse anesthetists."
posted by clawsoon at 12:16 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


My wife has a Masters and I have only a high school diploma. We must be outliers or something.

Most of my best friends (aside from the ones that are second wives to much older men) earn more than their male partners and have advanced MDs, JDs, and PhDs and are the breadwinners. I think social scientists have yet to capture this trend, tbh. Even a friend who married into a very wealthy family has a master's from a very old and prestigious European university. Her husband has a bachelor's, plays golf most days, etc.
posted by discopolo at 12:17 PM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love my atheist group and the community there and the stuff we do for activism and education, which we do in part to counteract the commonly-held idea that only Christians have any morality (and in part because groups are just generally better at activism and education, as well as community).

It's a women's group, though, because of toxicity.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:20 PM on August 27, 2015 [16 favorites]


For those who just can't imagine why atheists would want to hang out together or what on earth they could possible talk about: Godless Perverts.

If it's not your thing to go to meetings or gatherings like this, fine, but FYI they're not all horrible bastions of smug misogyny.
posted by rtha at 12:24 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm so glad the author finally got to the point about the epidemic of anorexia and bulimia in Orthodox communities. The more conservative, the higher the rates get. It is also underreported, undertreated and in a culture that has so much to do with food, fasting and purity, it's only going to become a bigger issue. How do you think these anorexic and bulimic young women are going to treat their daughters?.

At the very end, unfortunately. It's a topic that really deserves lots of additional coverage.

There are now several in-patient eating disorder programs specifically geared toward orthodox Jews. And a documentary on eating disorders among orthodox girls.

The documentary is online! "Hungry to be Heard".
posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


if the author of the piece is correct that the gender imbalance is due to LDS men leaving (the article didn't really convince me on this point)

it's driving me nuts that i can't find it - so i guess i'm asking that you take this on faith (haha) - but there was a meeting with, i think, the general authorities, with some bishops and stake presidents in attendance and one guy in the audience asked what to do about the male/female imbalance, how to help the women who weren't able to find spouses, and the entire jist of the answer was about keeping men from leaving and getting them back once they were gone.

whatever the byu literature says, and no matter how many times women are told to lose weight to attract a man, the church knows that the disparity is from an unequal exodus.
posted by nadawi at 12:52 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


infinitewindow: On the other hand, in other countries—I'm talking China and India—with the same or worse concentrations of pollutants, there is a strong cultural tendency toward female infanticide that increases the male to female ratio to nearly 2 to 1.

It's more like 1.2 to 1 in China, 1.1 to 1 in India; and the main contributor is sex-selective abortion, not infanticide. The reality is problematic enough, but there's no call for exaggerations which, if true, would imply that the two biggest countries on Earth are universally and inhumanly vicious.

(On another topic: I quite enjoyed the atheist meetings I went to in college, but my favorite person I connected with there was a 70-year-old pastor. He didn't go to make converts, he just liked shooting the shit with kids who cared enough about belief systems to be agin 'em.)
posted by aws17576 at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


There might be meetings for agnostics, I just can't be sure.
posted by drezdn at 1:11 PM on August 27, 2015 [33 favorites]


And this is where I feel smug for being bi, and (before marriage) free to date any gender. Of course, I wasn't hung up on the age thing, either, which seems to be a significant part of the problem.

But I don't suppose same-sex dating is really an option for devout Mormon women - but maybe it should be (for those who aren't completely hetero, of course).
posted by jb at 1:26 PM on August 27, 2015


i tried my damnedest to get other mormon girls to turn bi before i finally left (tongue in cheek, but also entirely true).

but no, it wouldn't be considered an option for devout mormon women. the church's current stance on "same sex attraction" (as they call it) is celibacy for the rest of your life and never having a calling that has you interacting with kids (which is almost all callings a woman can have in the church).
posted by nadawi at 1:36 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


i tried my damnedest to get other mormon girls to turn bi before i finally left (tongue in cheek, but also entirely true).

If you had tried tongue-someplace-other-than-cheek, you might've had more luck.
posted by clawsoon at 1:56 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thinking more about emotional labor and women as more religious then men, not only is there the support group aspect of a religious affiliation, but most of the time it is women who do the majority of real work involved in holding a congregation together.

Who organizes the potluck dinners, manages the minutae of church business and all the work of soothing emotions and making people feel welcome? Who composes newsletters and makes sure they get out? Who organizes church activities, makes sure people attend, etc? It's women.

So of course women tend to stick around while men often drift away. It's women who put in most of the work making the church happen, abandoning all that work is not going to be an attractive option.

resurrexit, jacquilynne is correct. I may have phrased myself poorly, but I meant that in religions where there is no barrier to women as the religious authority figure women are found in those roles in skyrocketing numbers, not that those particular religions are having surges in membership.

As a result, those religions aren't particularly experiencing a shortage of religious authority figures, while religions with a strict men only rule often are. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has a crisis level shortage of priests in many places, including areas that are historic Catholic strongholds like Ireland.

As a result, as I mentioned, we often see parishes where a nun is the defacto priest and they have a traveling man priest come in periodically to stock them up on transubstantiated wafers and wine and do the various rites and rituals that absolutely require a man by Catholic dogma.

I expect, more than anything else, it'll be the continuing shortage of priests that eventually pushes the Hierarchy to give up and start ordaining women.

That's also what I was talking about regarding the Mormons. As more and more men opt out of priesthood in the LDS community, eventually they'll be facing a similar problem that will likely force them to start ordaining women. It isn't quite as bad for the Mormons, since they do have a history of having God suddenly change his mind regarding the priesthood, don't forget that black men were barred from the priesthood in the LDS until it threatened BYU's NCAA status (and threatened the Mormon expansion into Brazil) at which point, it was like a miracle, God suddenly changed his mind and decided that black people didn't have unworthy souls after all.
posted by sotonohito at 2:04 PM on August 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


i totally think ordaining women will eventually happen, but i think it's a misunderstanding of mormon doctrine to liken it to black men getting the priesthood. that was always discussed in a "god is giving the priesthood to different groups in his own time and it's not time for their 'house' yet." there was always an avenue available to walk that back. the different roles for men and women in the church though - that is far more hard coded into the foundation. it's the same reason that they're going to have a hard time coming around on same sex relationships and trans people. there just aren't the same avenues for change already written into the religion for those things.
posted by nadawi at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thinking more about emotional labor and women as more religious then men, not only is there the support group aspect of a religious affiliation, but most of the time it is women who do the majority of real work involved in holding a congregation together.

For churches, perhaps.

From personal observation I don't think this necessarily holds true for Conservative Jews. And perhaps not for Modern Orthodox Jews, either, despite their overt divide in gender roles.

Most (Conservative) synagogues I've been a part of, men and women (but mostly men) have taken lead role in planning and running programs, welcoming new members, etc. Our synagogue does a sukkah hop every year, and it's coordinated by one guy at the synagogue and then the involved couples who open their homes to visitors. Paperwork, mailings, phone calls and other coordination for synagogue-sponsored events are typically handled by synagogue employees, such as a secretary or an executive director's office. Conservative synagogue boards are also pretty mixed, in my experience.

Please don't lump us in with Christians under "religious affiliation." :)
posted by zarq at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


With demographic changes like this, and cultural shifts about marriage, could it be a matter of time until there are campaigns from religious groups to legalize polygyny?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:38 PM on August 27, 2015


It could be that men get support in the community that enable them to accomplish more, and that from that accomplished vantage point it's easier to leave. If your religious community helped you on the path to being a lawyer or engineer or something, you don't lose those skills and qualifications when you leave the faith.

This sounds to me like observing that men have economic privileges (not really in contention whether in or outside the faiths under discussion)... but doesn't seem to me to explain why that would lead a man to choose abandoning a place of social/community privilege. Unless the implication is that when one has a degree of economic privilege (or when men specifically have economic privileges) other forms of connection/capital simply become more or less unimportant.

This also hits limits of explaining power where it meets a specific population of college educated professional women this author seems to be focused on, who actually have a sufficient degree of economic independence and yet remain inside while staring down the same demographic / class-matching issues.
posted by weston at 2:59 PM on August 27, 2015


The whole concept of "atheist meetings" strikes me as odd; if one does not believe in something, why would you meet about it? Most atheists would simply not include religion in their lives, and leave it at that; there is no need to organized, meet, discuss, or really do anything about it. TLDR: if you're meeting about it, you may be doing it wrong.

Since this thread is partially about Utah culture, I have some experience here. I've been to a couple of "atheist meetings" in Utah. The trouble with them (for me, as a man) is that they seemed to spend 90% of their time talking about how much they hate the Mormons. It felt like being part of an organized hate group, and I didn't like that.

The trouble a woman would have is that the meetings were 75% male and not at all welcoming to women, as others have pointed out.
posted by mmoncur at 3:54 PM on August 27, 2015


The whole concept of "atheist meetings" strikes me as odd; if one does not believe in something, why would you meet about it? Most atheists would simply not include religion in their lives, and leave it at that; there is no need to organized, meet, discuss, or really do anything about it. TLDR: if you're meeting about it, you may be doing it wrong.

That's what I used to think, but it was pointed out that this is only true if you were raised atheist or only lightly religious. For people who have come from manipulative or heavily religious backgrounds and essentially discovered in adulthood (or well on the way) that their understanding of everything needs to be unlearned and started over from the ground up, those people really benefit from spending time with and knowing others in the same boat. That the boat unfortunately tends to be good at accumulating various people who are "doing it wrong" probably isn't very useful to anyone involved, as you point out, but the boat itself still has value.
posted by anonymisc at 4:15 PM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't buy the "higher male mortality" bit as a huge factor, at least in for Mormons in their 30s, but I wonder how much is accounted for by higher female conversion.

Even though Mormons have mostly healthy lifestyles, I suspect that higher male mortality may be due to higher accidental death rates among young men than among young women (e.g., hunting accidents, car accidents, workplace accidents at predominantly male blue-collar jobs).
posted by jonp72 at 4:16 PM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Statistically speaking, an atheist meeting may be one of the best places for single women to meet available men."

It depends on what you mean by "best." Quiz Bowl clubs have similarly lopsided gender ratios, but there's also a common saying among women in Quiz Bowl: "The odds are good, but the goods are odd."
posted by jonp72 at 4:21 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe the world needs more queer people in it to make up for this hetero imbalance

we will drive them into the sea
posted by poffin boffin at 5:14 PM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


For future reference: for articles like this (that won't work in your browser if AdBlock is enabled), Saving to Pocket will send the whole article to your Pocket list for offline reading and strip out all the clutter. I do this all the time for online articles that just have an annoying interface - Pocket cleans it up and makes it super easy to read - and it worked with this article as well.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wait there's a Dating Crisis? Is it caused by sub-prime marriages?

Thanks, and, goodbye forever.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:18 PM on August 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


This was a much more interesting article than Time used to publish. I hope the book version includes a look at parallel religious settings with a surplus of single men (if there are in fact any these days).

I would interpret the high rates of men leaving as being an expression of privilege, such that for them the church is more of a constraint. Even though within it they are privileged relative to women, staying inside it diminishes their options relative to non-religious men.

And, they know that they can always return to the faith and marry a younger woman, so it's not like leaving really limits their long term options in that respect.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:28 PM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's hard to explain to people who aren't on the ultra devout side - but it has been my experience that leaving as a woman, and never having kids, has put me further away - more ostracized - than the men in my family who have left. i think it can be described through emotional labor and the available life paths for women vs men in the church. when a guy leaves, it isn't as weird because he hasn't given up as much, even though he's given up the most (the priesthood). and there i go not making sense. let me try again - i am seen as further away because i am not raising kids in the church. even though i'm a housewife, the differences are too stark. when the family all gets together, the men can all small talk about their work, but i can't small talk about primary and cub scout fundraising.
posted by nadawi at 7:46 PM on August 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


Organised Atheism definitely seems to be a high-powered slimeball magnet.

Secularism does need to organise in many areas to fight entrenched ecclesiastical power.

We need to provide alternate support networks for women who are unable to live without the one provided in their religious communities.

We need to kick more ESRs out of more social justice movements.

We need to take action, and stop being So Very Pleased With Ourselves.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 8:13 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love how it's always phrased as "The problem is that girls want to marry men a few years older than themselves," instead of, "Men want to marry women a few years younger than themselves." And absolutely nobody is suggesting that the solution might be, "Hey guys, why not consider marrying a woman a few years older than yourself?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:42 PM on August 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was thinking about whether this relates to the observable phenomenon in British history that a traumatic war is followed by a period of freer behaviour. WWI followed by the twenties, WWII by the sixties, the Civil War by the Restoration. I don't know though. The male death toll in WWII was not on the same scale as WWI I believe. Yet in WWI, OK you got flappers in short skirts, but it wasn't all free love: you also got the recognised phenomenon of maiden aunts, and frightened Woosterish bachelors.

I don't know German history very well - was the Thirty Years' War followed by an era of 'moral laxity'?
posted by Segundus at 1:00 AM on August 28, 2015


I love how it's always phrased as "The problem is that girls want to marry men a few years older than themselves," instead of, "Men want to marry women a few years younger than themselves."

Yeah, the same thing goes for educational status. It's always "Oh, women just don't want to marry a man with less education than them" but in my experience, it's men who aren't (usually) interested in women who have more education than them, are smarter than them, make more money than them, etc. (Not All Men, of course, but still a fair number.)
posted by pie ninja at 7:13 AM on August 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


We need to kick more ESRs out of more social justice movements.

What is ESR in this context?
posted by theorique at 1:46 PM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


According to the ARIS study, there are now 150 Mormon women for every 100 Mormon men in the state of Utah—a 50 percent oversupply of women.

So, back to polygamy?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:22 PM on August 28, 2015


i really hope not as last time it was used to cover up the prophet seer and revelator abusing underage girls.
posted by nadawi at 4:07 PM on August 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Some related coverage and (less recycled) hosted discussion from the Salt Lake Tribune, part of a bubbling discussion in some Mormon circles about the place family takes in the faith and the impact that has on participants, perhaps particularly single women.


when a guy leaves, it isn't as weird because he hasn't given up as much, even though he's given up the most (the priesthood). and there i go not making sense.

Actually, I think this makes some sense. There's a separation between "priesthood" and "hierarchy" that sometimes gets missed in Mormon contexts... partly because Mormon rhetoric always joins priesthood and authority, partly because they're often the same in other religious contexts.

But it's a minority of Mormon men who find themselves invited to fill various leadership positions. Leaving aside any numinous dimension, for most the practical reality is that priesthood is a male social service program and a personal identity/narrative talisman, rather than a path to any particular status beyond active participant.

So "given up the most" is a judgment in the context of the theology. "Hasn't given up as much" might be a way of recognizing that there's a gap between the theological story and where social value/status is practically conferred. At least, for men who either have doubts about the former or an instinctive feel for the latter.

So, back to polygamy?

My guess is that the polygyny of the 19th century may be less tenable for modern mainstream Mormonism than modern mainstream US society. Even if it were legally supported, even if it weren't at odds with a lot of feminism (which, patriarchal as the church is, it also has a mix of concern about), the recent LDS church has defined its own culture so heavily by distance from the former polygamy and with an emphasis on monogamous marriage that it most of its active membership is pretty invested in the idea of officially blessed romantic pair bonds.

There's some light if persistent internal discussion about polygamy's return here and there, and the occasional unorthodox practitioner, but I expect some kind of formalized order for women to make its way into Mormonism well before I'd expect any kind of lived poly relationships to even start to make way back towards blessed status.
posted by weston at 6:54 PM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


theorique: ESR is Eric S. Raymond, chief hijacker of the software freedom movement. I waited a week to avoid hijacking a thread that wasn't about my pet causes, but ESR was the strongest example I could come up with from my own past: he barged into a movement that was about freedom and sharing and turned it into an Ayn Rand sales pitch to investors, peppered with his own MRA-ish sympathies.

It does seem that when movements organise to try and help people suffering in unjust institutions, there's always a privileged white dude trying to use it to preach a gospel of getting rid of all rules so the Mighty Whitey can steamroll onward unencumbered. Movements need to grow antibodies against this so we can surround and eject them from the group with a minimum of noise.

So it's a tragedy that the atheist movement seems to be crawling with them. We need a new movement that is less about defining itself in smug opposition, and more about safe spaces and community. And it needs to have good moderators!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:59 AM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


rum-soaked space hobo: Thanks. He's the ESR I'm familiar with, but I wasn't sure how he played into the context here. Thank you for clarifying!
posted by theorique at 9:01 AM on September 8, 2015


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