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January 23rd, 2011

Women in Patriarchy

The post about women being valued for their looks made me think about how women are generally the enforcers of patriarchy.

For example, as a TBM I was the one who made sure we went to church and did all the 'right' things like family prayer and scripture study. Most of the families I knew had this same dynamic - the woman got the kids ready and made sure everyone behaved during church while often men would put their heads in their hands and fall asleep during the talks. The worst failing an LDS woman is for her kids to stop going to church. (Sorry, Mom...)

In The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes the same dynamic in her Muslim family. Women enforced the traditions that kept them in their place on the bottom rung of society. One theory I have read about is that patriarchy enforces the idea that women have no power, and subconsciously this causes women to repress their feminine side and embrace their masculine side, which means they identify with men and enforce the patriarchal system in ways that give them some power. OK. I didn't say that very well. Do you know what I mean, though?

Why do you think women try so hard to support a system that hurts them? When you were TBM were you the one who made sure everyone got to church on time?

Community Vision & Male Participation

My (Original) Vision for the Community

“The Personal Is Political” and “Everyone’s Experiences Are Valid”.

These are two feminist statements that have spoke to me time and time again in my women’s studies classes.

When I chose to create this community this is the place where I came from. I wanted anyone who wanted to participate to do so respectfully, and concisely while acknowledging that each person’s person experiences are valid. Your experience happened. Your experience is valid. So often women’s experiences in the church are erased, as women are often removed from history because their work wasn’t deemed important enough to write down.

However, disagreement and dissent will always happen. We can all disagree, politely, with our own experiences. Each of us can say, “Wow. That’s totally crazy. That makes sense based on Mormonism’s own tenants of X, Y, Z. While that never happened to me, I can see it being taught. What happened to me was...” Your disagreement does not erase and will never erase the existence of the other person’s experiences. We can also point out how the trait mirrors the larger world. As one of our members (windancer) recently wrote: “It's like Mormonism takes the worst of US culture and magnifies it.” Discussion happens upon disagreement. However, respect is necessary -- for our fellow members, and ourselves. For their experiences, and our own.

This community was definitely created with women in mind. I personally found that most ex-mormon websites didn’t tend to discuss women’s issues very frequently. Or that these were often erased. I know my fellow members often felt the same way. All of us want a safe place to discuss the intersection of women and religion’s aftereffects (or effects).

However, what about men? (I know, I know, the “what about the menz?” cry.) I want the community to be open to all, I want participation from all. As I wrote above, “The Personal Is Political” and I feel like the best way to change one’s opinion is to learn. The question plaguing feminist communities is: “Can men be feminists? Or can they just be feminist supporters since they don’t have any experience as women?” Personally, I always felt that men could be feminists. Men should be able to participate in forums such as this -- assuming respectful conduct, of course. However, oftentimes men don’t have any idea what oppression women went and continue to go through -- education is the best means for change, and that was a large motivation for me to let men into this community. Being educated about women’s issues leads to change (at least I certainly hope).


Your Opinions?

I don’t speak for the rest of the women here though (as I’ve said above), so I’m going to ask everyone to weigh in -- how should men be allowed to participate in this community? I will straight up say this: I refuse to kick anyone out of the community unless the violate the rules. However, do you feel that men’s participation in the community should be curtailed? If so, how would you say this should be done?

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Formerly Mormon Women

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