Monday, November 12, 2018

This Mormon American Life

Hi everyone it's me CJane here. I mean, who else would it be? And yet, you never know these days with all the hacking and fake newsing and straight-up video altering going on these days in the world! Wow what a time to be alive.

You know it's me because of my own special grammar rules--which includes a ton of dashes because I don't know when to use , or ; and I am too old to learn new tricks so enjoy a ton of these...too.

This morning This American Life published a podcast which I alluded to earlier here. It's about Mormon bishop worthiness interviews. And it's good. I was able to sneak in one little quote about wine, weed and sex. Which is surely going to give me some more social points here in Provo, but what can you do? Hahahahahaha, cry, sob, sob.

I do recommend it though, if not just to hear my girlfriend Reagan Baker tell her story, (this blog is a testament to my love of RB) and to hear the incomparable Elna Baker (not related) push church spokesman Eric Hawkins to awkward fumbling and graceless pockets of silence. I've never heard a woman in my church let a man be as uncomfortable as Elna allows Eric to be. Masterful.

One thing I feel is particularly important to say is that I don't discount that Mormons have had lovely experiences in the church. I did too. Bishops have been very helpful to me at times. The critiques I have about the church are not local issues.My problem is with the system. Perhaps there are many women who had many bishop interviews and never once was there an exchange of inappropriate questions, tones or touching. But it is the power dynamics that I refuse. I refuse men in power and authority over women. I don't care where it comes from. I refuse it. I refuse it for my daughters, for my sisters, for my friends, for my family--even if they don't refuse it themselves. And this is also important because those dynamics don't change no matter how old you are. It's as terrifying to sit in a bishop's interview at 13 as it is at 33. And yes, adult women are still expected to go into these offices alone and talk to their male church leaders who will ask them--among many things-- about their underwear habits and their chastity (no matter their marital status).

There is no justification in my mind that makes this power dynamic of men over women--which is found locally as it is found in the upper echelons of the church--acceptable. It has deep, violent consequences whether you are consenting to the dynamic or not. At worst it can be deadly, at best it allows for women to carry out the patriarchal system in ignorance (which I suppose comes with bouts of bliss...enjoy!). But as this podcast suggests, there is nothing more damaging about this destructive dynamic than when it comes to sexuality (in all its forms).

I believe you could put in a thousand checks to this system, you could go and sit with your child through every interview, you could teach your daughters to be the most feminist, but this system--designed to cultivate absolute obedience--will always seep in. And one day you'll be trying to figure out how you got so messed up about the most simplest things in life. How did you once believe that all these things were normal? Totally fine? How were you so willing to forgo your own instincts? Those instincts that screamed at you for so long desperately trying to keep you safe?

Anyway, growing up in patriarchy sure does a number on you!

Well, thanks for the chat...


For incredible insight on this subject, please read April Carlson's Why Does She Stay?