This new discriminatory policy cannot be God.
December 7, 2015 8:54 AM   Subscribe

A while ago I referred to Mallory Ortberg as some sort of Internet National Treasure, but, man: The Toast as a whole is just so consistently, unreasonably good.
posted by mhoye at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

"The more I came into my own, the less I fit the model of what I was expected to be as a Mormon woman." Oof. What a difficult, intense divergence to navigate.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

When "what one actually believes" includes marrying whomever you wish, or holding a job outside the home rather than raising kids full-time, then not discussing them means not involving your spouse in your community or not talking about your job.

See, I know lots of Mormons who have non-Mormon spouses or who have two-income families, and nobody makes a big deal about it at all. There are no arguments or discussions in our ward or stake about whether the wife who is a doctor or a law firm partner or whatever else is doing the right thing or whatever. That sort of dogmatism just isn't really a thing that's out in the open. I'm sure there are people who think those women are doing the wrong thing, but they don't say it out loud because even they're not that rude.

It has been interesting and amusing to watch the heads explode on dogmatic/orthodox Mormons who figured out that the wife of one of the new Apostles is a high-powered plaintiff's lawyer who doesn't go by her husband's last name and continues to practice law even as her husband works full-time for the church.
posted by The World Famous at 10:13 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The World Famous - exactly those factors affect every church, in my direct experience the Church of England, which is very much the sort of place where people are happiest not enquiring too deeply about the actual religion but are very dependent on the church as part of their society.

You don't get that luxury, alas, when society is changing. If there is a secular society, then church society can't follow those changes closely - churches are built to perpetuate stasis, at their hearts. So differences build and cannot be ignored. One of the attractions of the Caliphate is that there is no secular society - and this was also one of the great strengths of the medieval Catholics (Catholic means 'applying to everyone', which the C of E still pretends to, and which I understand Mormonism also includes).

But unless you get rid of that secular society, you will have to adjust or die. (Even if you do adjust, the process may produce something quite unrecognisable, or kill you anyway.)

[Ha! You spotted this already! Have a look at the last fifty years of the C of E, if you fancy a foretaste of things to come...]
posted by Devonian at 10:13 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

as someone who was a woman in the church and am now an ex-mormon feminist with a lot of family and friends still in, i don't think the ostracization is oversold at all. i was a beehive when i first noticed that my dreams for myself didn't match up with the women around me and when i started being othered in the church by peers and leaders alike. this is one of the truest things i've ever read about my own experiences: Whichever way you chose, you almost always went it alone. There was no script to recite, no model to follow; you just made your own way.

other quotes from this piece that punched me right in the feels :
What we teach our little girls turns us into the women we are, and it breeds self-shame and self-blame and the need to always smile and say yes.

The more I came into my own, the less I fit the model of what I was expected to be as a Mormon woman.

I say I left the church, but there’s leaving and then there’s leaving. I stopped attending. I told my parents I didn’t believe anymore. I drank coffee and alcohol and wore tank tops and let my friends gradually figure it out. But I never removed my name from the official rolls of the church. Every year, when they announce their membership numbers, I am still included. Next year that number will finally be one less.

The thing that can be so hard to explain is how much many of us continue to love the church, whatever our beliefs. Some do leave vindictive and angry, but others leave only because we feel we must, and the loss is an ache that does not go away.

But at other times, there’s chapter and verse telling you exactly where God stands, and it’s not with you. You can choose whether to put down the part of yourself that believes something is right, or you can put down the part of yourself that loves God. In this situation, neither feels good.

I’m not sure why the policy change was so important to me because I don’t currently consider myself active in the church, but as soon as I read the policy, I started sobbing

You’d think it would be easier to tell your non-Mormon friends about leaving the church, but it’s just painful in a different way. They treat us as if we’ve made the obvious rational decision and finally come to our senses. They don’t understand the pain of the decision, our torn loyalties, the complexities of faith.
This is the biggest and hardest thing we have ever done. The only ones who understand are others like us. So we stick together.

It is hard to talk to people about your faith if they don’t share it. When people hear I was brought up Mormon but no longer practice, they think they can safely crack jokes, call it a cult, say it’s ridiculous, and I will join right in.

The one thing we know, the one thing we all agree on, is that as Mormon feminists we are part of a unique and beautiful sisterhood — one founded on love, equality, and respect. No matter what we decide to do, individually or together, we know who we are, and we know what is right, and that will never change.
i don't think i've ever read something about staying in or leaving the church that felt so much like it had just been pulled out of my own heart.
posted by nadawi at 10:16 AM on December 7, 2015 [41 favorites]

See, I know lots of Mormons who have non-Mormon spouses or who have two-income families, and nobody makes a big deal about it at all.

this is very dependent on region and local leaders. and as far as the lgbt spouse issue goes, salt lake is angling to make it less dependent on region and local leaders.
posted by nadawi at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Internet Mormonism is kind of the worst, to be honest. For me and just about everyone I know in the internet Mormon world, it tends to amplify and give greater prominence to the differences and disagreements between us while slowly replacing the best thing about the church (participation in a robust local community where it's mostly seen as impolite to discuss what one actually believes) with acrimonious discussion of Mormonism's sloppy cosmology and marking of internet Mormon communities' rigid theological territory.

I think you can paraphrase this idea for a great number of large groups whose views include multitudes. I'll try: "[broad] internet culture [x] is kind of the worst: it tends to amplify and give greater importance to differences and disagreements in [that] culture, while downplaying benefits of local communities."

I'm not bashing the idea, but building upon it - the internet is not a great place to discuss emotional topics with dissenting parties, because the parties can easily see the opposing group as a distant "other" instead of real, human peers in a larger community. "Someone on the internet is wrong," instead of "I disagree with my neighbor." As seen time and time again, even putting real names and faces on internet discussions isn't even enough to humanize these sorts of discussions (for a terrible glimpse: look at any comments section that requires you to log in with your Facebook account -people are still angry assholes because you can drop word bombs and walk away, feeling good about your comment and not seeing the look on someone else's face.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

The World Famous, I like your comments on MeFi and often agree with you, but I disagree with your stance here. The value of the internet for Mormon feminists is to feel they are not alone, and that the feelings of alienation they feel within their faith are not just applicable to them. The repression and squelching of self that's required to fit in, in many places, can be internalized, and it's soul killing.

This is consciousness raising. It was done in the 1970s in women's living rooms; it's still done in women's studies classrooms--and I'm happy to see it being done in the Mormon church. It's one of the most valuable aspects of feminism: to show that these are not problems with the individual, but with the structure, the institution itself.

My heart goes out to these women. They are brave, and I'm glad they've found community.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:39 AM on December 7, 2015 [26 favorites]

"There are no arguments or discussions... That sort of dogmatism just isn't really a thing that's out in the open. I'm sure there are people who think those women are doing the wrong thing, but they don't say it out loud because even they're not that rude."

I would like to very gently suggest that conveying to women that they're doing the wrong thing can manifest in less visible, less vocal ways. Just because it isn't a subject of public discussion doesn't mean it's not taking place in painful, personal ways. I know you know this, The World Famous, and that is, I think, what Jessica Woodbury is alluding to when she's talking about how one becomes "the ward eccentric, that one weirdo, beloved but never quite understood or respected"--and eventually the one suffering from depression, discord with family members and alienation from one's sense of self.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:42 AM on December 7, 2015 [15 favorites]

[Couple comments removed, let's try and keep this about the actual topic and not some generalized religious grar stuff.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:43 AM on December 7, 2015

emjaybee: You can't discuss church?

Religions are drastically different in this. On one extreme, you have groups like the Catholic church, Mass was held in Liturgical Latin from 1570 to 1962, making it rather hard for many to understand. On the other, Judaism believes that asking questions and welcoming questions is a necessary part of education and growth. There's a lot of territory in between, but many cases you stick with your church's beliefs, or you find something else (at least for most Christian denominations, and if your town is big enough to support a few different churches).

It sounds like at least some Mormon temples fall closer to the "here are the rules and roles for everyone, the end." It's interesting that there aren't any significant dissenting sects (LDS has 15 million members, compared to the Community of Christ, a Missouri-based, 250,000-member denomination, and there are a handful of minor splinter groups). Unfortunately, it appears that for a feminist Mormon group to succeed, it needs significant buy-in from men, which appears to be lacking.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2015

I understand why Mormons who disagree with the new (insane and un-Christlike) LGBT policy are choosing to leave, but part of me selfishly wishes they would stay and fight. I have no doubt the church leadership adopted this policy in order to cow the dissenters and hopefully (from their perspective) to force them to leave (it's the same reason Benedict's curia scheduled the review of the U.S. Catholic nuns, which Francis thankfully terminated two years early). This is a witchhunt and they hope to drive out the witches. But I'm not a Mormon, so it's not really my place to ask people to tolerate the intolerable.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:54 AM on December 7, 2015

There is no church, not a single one, that could survive for a week without the hard, usually unpaid, work of its female members. At least not as a growing, vibrant organization.

I wish more women understood what a place of enormous strength they stand on, if they stand together. If the female population of any church went on strike collectively, the church would either have to negotiate or close its doors.
posted by emjaybee at 10:56 AM on December 7, 2015 [32 favorites]

A majority of the company I work for is Mormon, and I always want to sit down and have a very frank conversation with the Mormon women I work with about how they feel their religion impacts their career and how they are viewed within the company. Of course it's completely inappropriate to ask - but it's definitely in the back of my mind.

Wasn't there a previous post at some point on the blue about a feminist single adult woman who was Mormon who went on grand adventures by herself (running marathons, vacationing, setting amazing goals) who got push back from her peers who would rather wait to experience the grand adventures with a husband?
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 10:56 AM on December 7, 2015

there's a video that i can't find anymore (and if you know where it is please send it to me!) of a meeting with church elders, including some stake presidents and bishops, (all men, obviously) where someone asks what to do about women not being able to find fulfillment because there's a dearth of active men to marry, about what to tell those women who will likely never marry about what purpose she can find. the answer? solve the membership crisis among the men so there aren't women left without husbands and children. there was no other suggestion about how to find fulfillment in other endeavors, about creating programs to focus on these women, just - focus on the men some more and the issue will sort itself out.
posted by nadawi at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

I cannot stand idly by and turn a blind eye to the hurt my LGBTQ brothers and sisters are experiencing. I will mourn with those who mourn.

That's good bible.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

My partner is ex-Mormon and this piece really hit home with me. After Prop 8, she wrote the church to have her name removed from the rolls and hasn't had contact with it since, but I have seen firsthand these effects on family and friends. The church is so organized around building a community and appeals so strongly to those in need of a consistent, loving support structure that the effect of ostracism, even in its most subtle forms, is devastating. I don't think Mormonism is alone in this and don't want to single it out, but then I think it is especially painful given how many of its traditions and values are based around the social more than the individual. They readily take in people who have suffered abuse, whose families have not given them what they needed, and then coldly reject them when they fail to live up to an idea of what is proper (let alone take political action); at least, that's what I have seen personally. I want to have hope things can change, but given the leadership structure of the church and the focus on revelation, any change will be slow and not happen primarily because of the input of women, if it ever does.

This part especially is the truth:
Progressive feminists who remain in the church face the difficult task of never being fully accepted anywhere. To be Mormon among non-Mormons is to be an other. To be progressive among Mormons is to be an other. There is no refuge.
posted by thetortoise at 1:48 PM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

I wish Community of Christ could get more traction with this. I know they have a website for LDS seekers. Priesthood for women and LGBTQ, supports gay marriage, and their temple work is a daily prayer for peace. They're like Mormon UU's.
posted by Ruki at 2:26 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

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