Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Feminist Summer Reading List

Since it is summer and I have all the time in the world, I decided to spend my time reading more feminist books. I'm not in school anymore, so I really don't have very many scholarly feminist articles to read anymore. And while not all of the books I've read are strictly scholarly, they have helped me to understand feminism a little bit more.

Bossypants by Tina Fey - The reason why I love this book is because it is how one woman has taken feminism and interpreted it in her daily life. I think lots of women can relate to her experiences of learning about being a woman in this patriarchal world and how feminism fits into things for her personally. Of course, this is not intersectional feminism - Tina has a lot of white, heterosexual, cis, etc. privilege, and she does not address that. But a lot of feminists are in the same position (like myself), and that doesn't make any of the issues she's dealing with less important. Though it does mean that you, as a reader, should probably be aware of the lack of intersectionality while reading it.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran - Similar to Bossypants, this book/memoir is another personal interpretation of feminism. It is not deep feminism or even the bottom line of feminism. But it does do a good job of showing everyday sexisms and how one woman interprets the events around her. I think for both books we can learn that it's okay for feminists to make mistakes and not be perfectly feminist-y; that standing up against sexism isn't always clearcut and can be very difficult; and that many events in our lives are actually subtle sexism. I also loved the way Caitlin treated childbirth in this book.

I've also written about Bossypants and How to Be a Woman here.

Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts - So this book is pure history. And sometimes that can be kind of dry and hard to get through. But also, the lives of these women are FASCINATING. As feminists, it is important that we try to rewrite history with the women included. As it is right now, history is dominated by male figures, and the women are completely ignored. But women existed! We can't just assume that they were all gossiping and sewing, completely ignorant to what was going on outside of the sphere of the home. This book shows that women played an important part in founding the country, from Eliza Lucas who single-handedly made indigo a cash crop in the South to Mercy Warren who greatly inspired the rebellion against England through plays and poetry. Without women, we wouldn't have this country, even if they weren't always on the battlefront. We need to remember that.

Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan -
This book is a collection of essays by different feminists describing the moment when feminism "clicked" for them. Men and women from all different kinds of backgrounds discuss the parts of their lives that lead them to embracing the label of "feminism." They discuss what they do and don't like about the feminist movement as a whole. They explore what being a woman means to them, the female figures in their lives, and their personal stake within feminism. I think it's a great read because sometimes emerging feminists can get anxiety over the fact that their origins in feminism were for selfish reasons. We don't always think about rape victims or child brides in developing countries. We generally start out with rejecting the sexism that immediately affects us. And that's okay. I do think it is important to have a kind of selfish stake in feminism, as well as being aware that it extends beyond you to all the other women in the world.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg - This book has been pretty famous this year. Sheryl Sandberg is currently the COO of Facebook, which is HUGE. I absolutely love Facebook, by the way. But she's also an awesome person because she's helping to shatter the glass ceiling in the tech industry, as well as by being high-up administrator. Lean In discusses the reason why women now outnumber men in terms of college graduates, but still are not CEOs or very high up in business hierarchies. What I liked about this book is that it discussed societal issues, but also had some practical solutions for women (and men) to do. It made me feel very empowered, especially since I had just started my new job when I read it. Again, this book has been criticized for being "white" feminism. Most women in this country aren't even in a position to take Sandberg's advice of Leaning In. I guess I'm technically not either since I'm in an entry-level position. But I would absolutely recommend it for any working woman.

Summer is over! Looking back at these books, I've realized that they are all pretty ... white. Click is the only exception, but even then I believe it was dominated by white women with a few great chapters by women of color.

I do have a good reason for this, though! I was actually halfway through Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan (see! Not just white women) when I got distracted by the Game of Thrones books. Can you really blame me for getting sucked into those???

Next time I do a feminist reading stint, I'll make sure to include more women of color.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Smashing Arguments Against OW Part I

So hey everyone. Sorry I haven't posted in a while. To tell you the truth, my sister actually found my blog. I'm not open about this blog because, honestly, being a Mormon feminist is difficult. She didn't really approve, confirming the need for me to be discreet.

But the thing is, I'm a writer and I'm opinionated and passionate. I have lots of feelings and I cope with them by writing them out.

There's been a lot of fuss among Mormons on the Internet lately about Ordain Women. The leaders of OW decided to bring more attention to their cause by hosting an event where they wait in line at the Priesthood session of this October's General Conference. This is because women have never been allowed into the session before, despite it being broadcast and shared publicly after the event. Also, because they see themselves as future priesthood holders. You can read more about the event here. And probably some other locations.

Of course, many Mormons are in an uproar against this. They've flocked to Facebook to tell OW and Mormon feminists how unrighteous and wrong we are. And I'm getting really sick of it. First of all, they are being extremely rude, divisive, and not at all Christlike. Which is pretty ironic considering that they're calling us "apostates." But also, their arguments are completely illogical, offensive, and just plain wrong. 

So I've decided to tear apart some of these awful arguments, one blog post at a time. (I should probably preface this by saying that while I have no interest in obtaining the priesthood for myself, I support the efforts of OW and find it absolutely ridiculous that people are so vehemently against it. I mean really, why can't we even entertain the notion?)

Here's the first argument I've been hearing: 

"If women get the priesthood, they will have no need for men. Women shouldn't get the priesthood because they should depend on men."

These are two different arguments, but they essentially amount to the same idea. Women should need men and if they have the priesthood, they won't. 

This argument is wrong for a few different reasons. I'm sure if the people making this argument really thought it through, they would realize how illogical it is. 

The idea that women wouldn't need men would supposedly have two manifestations:
  1. Wives wouldn't need men in their marriage or as a father to their children. 
  2. Women wouldn't need men to help run the Church.
The problem with #1 is that women do not marry men for their priesthood. Women marry men because they love them. Women and men complement each other not because one is a priesthood holder while the other is a nurturer, but because they are both individuals with unique attributes. 

I'm gonna use my marriage as an example because that's what I've got. My husband and I complement each other in many ways. One of them is that I tend to get passionate and angry much more easily than he does. He's more even-tempered. Neither of those attributes have to do with our sex - come on, guys, we've all seen hot-tempered men and women! 

The other issue with #1 is that most women in the world aren't married to men who hold the priesthood. Even many LDS women have husbands that have never been members or are inactive. Most of those women still need their husbands, even though they don't hold the priesthood. They still have very happy, functional marriages. 

This is also a very sad argument to me. I really hope the women (and men) who use this argument as a reason why women shouldn't receive the priesthood don't really mean it. They may not realize it, but when people use this argument, it makes it sound like the only reason why they are married is for their husband's priesthood authority. What would happen if their husband became inactive and no longer had his former priesthood authority? Would the wife leave him? And for men who use this argument - do you really want your wife to think of you this way? Do you really want a wife who is spiritually dependent on you, rather than able to have her own spirituality?

Now to #2. Again, an out-of-church comparison makes this one fall apart. The Church is an organization, much like a business. Probably moreso like a business than most other churches. And businesses all function with both men and women. Sometimes women are the bosses and the authority figures, often the men are. Either way, businesses absolutely need people of both sexes to help it run to its best capacity. 

If women were to be ordained in the future, men would not be kicked out of the Church. They would not stand around with nothing to do while women covered everything. Men and women would work together, both holding about half of the callings, doing half of the work, and having half of the authority.  

Essentially what this argument amounts to for me is "woman, know thy place." 

I have no problem with a member of the Church believing that women are not meant to receive the priesthood at this time, or ever. However, there are absolutely no good arguments against it. I'm okay with anyone who thinks that we just have to trust in the Lord, but I'm not okay with anyone who does any sort of mental gymnastics in an attempt to come up with any sort of reason for why women don't and never should have the priesthood. 

I had an uncle-in-law who simply and authoritatively said to me "not gonna happen" when I told him about the existence of OW. It annoyed me that he said it that way, but I also appreciated that he didn't have any sort of argument against it.

I repeat: We don't currently know why women don't have the priesthood. That is something Heavenly Father has never revealed to us. Therefore, there is no good argument against it other than "it just is."

I hope you can appreciate that and understand that. If not, well, then, even though it is tough to be a Mormon feminist, I have pretty thick skin. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The "White Knight"

Today I want to talk about teh menz. Men in feminism are great. I really admire them and have had some really great discussions with them.

But there’s also a problem with male allies. They tend to have the “white knight” complex more than they should. What this means is that they’d rather say they are a feminist in order to impress somebody (I really don’t know who. Potential romantic partners? Themselves?) than actually BE feminists. 

Because being a feminist means a lot more than saying you’re a feminist. I wrote this post about how not every feminist should feel the need to be a super marching, protesting activist. That’s still true. But even if you aren't sticking it to the man is in a very obvious and dramatic way, there are still small ways that you need to do it. More than BEING a feminist, you need to actively make the world more feminist in some way.

So what do I even mean? How does one strike the balance between activist and small efforts?

For one, you need to live your life in a more feminist way. This will mean different things for different people, and it’s up to you to determine what that will look like in your own life. It’s not enough to say that men can often treat women terribly, or that women should be treated better by society in general. Yes, admitting that women are oppressed is the first step. The next is working against it.

How, you ask? These are a few suggestions:


  • Examine the balance of housework between you and your wife/partner. Splitting it 50/50 isn’t the answer for every circumstance, but are you doing your fair share? Do you avoid tasks that don’t seem like “men’s work”? Does your wife/partner pick up the slack most of the time? If so, it’s time for you to actively rearrange your situation. (By “actively,” I mean discussing it with her and agreeing on it, not just making a resolution to do better.)
  • Same thing with childcare.
  • Do you speak out when your dudebros say offensive or sexist things? If not, you are helping perpetuate the problem.
  • When you are on the streets, in a bar, or other situation, do you actively work to make sure the women around you feel safe? This doesn’t mean being chivalrous. What I mean is, if a woman is walking alone at night, cross the road and walk on the other side of the street so she doesn’t feel threatened by you. Seriously, you need to do that, because every woman is going to view you as a potential rapist whether you deserve it or not
  • Do you actively work to make women more comfortable in the workplace? This means not interrupting them, encouraging/allowing them to speak out, creating better conditions for women, speaking up when dudebros say sexist things, and mentoring them. Check out “Lean In” by Sharyl Sandberg for more tips on that.
  • Listen more. Do not dismiss the experiences of women. Pause before speaking up.


  • Let men do all of the above things. Sometimes, women also have a hard time letting go of the status quo. It can sometimes be difficult for women to hand over the fair share of housework to men because they like the level of control they feel, or they don’t trust men to do it right. That’s dumb. Let it go. Let him make mistakes. Similarly, women don’t always want to give up the benefits that chivalry gives them. I’ll admit that I've felt special before when a guy opens a car door for me, or a group of men stand up when I walk into a room. I don’t anymore, because I hate chivalry. But I understand that feeling.
  • Demand that men do the above things. You absolutely cannot wait for men to figure it out by themselves. Why would anybody do that? If you are unhappy with your present circumstances, speak up about it. No, you don’t want to be accusatory or call them a huge flaming ball of suckfest. But an open, honest discussion about your feelings is necessary. (“Demand” may be the wrong word because I do think that, lots of the time, you should be nice about this. But I’m keeping it because what I mean is that you shouldn't give up or settle for less. Stay firm in your stance and resilient in your efforts to get it.)

Really, this is all the tip of the iceberg. I could probably go on forever talking about ways that we can all work towards a better, more women-friendly world. Many other blogs have done so in a much better way than I have. I just needed to vent about the men who are feminist only in name, and not in action.

Do you have any experiences where this has happened to you? Do you have any other suggestions? Feel free to share!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

8 Reasons Why Introverts Don't Like the LDS Church

I'm an introvert. For me, this means that I don't like to meet new people, spending lots of time with people exhausts me, and that I'd rather be at home. I only start talking a lot after I've really gotten to know a person, and I rarely ever talk in a large group. This isn't unusual - there are lots of introverts out there, and they've been speaking out more and more about it. Basically, introverts gather their energy from being alone, whereas extroverts gain energy from being with others.

Today, I realized just how much the culture and format of the Church does not cater to introverts. Really, this Church is made for extroverts. Here are a few of the ways I think this is the case:

  1. There is a huge emphasis on fellowshipping. Part of your duty as a righteous member is to befriend others, especially those who are new, visiting, or less active. You're supposed to go right up to someone who looks lonely and start talking to them. Introverts don't like new people.
  2. The other side of #1 is that if you look lonely, someone is going to try to fellowship you. This is only slightly better than the introvert having to muster up some courage to go and talk to someone else. But it also catches the introvert off guard. 
  3. Church activities vary, but there always are sporting events. I hate this because I don't like sports, but also because, as an introvert, I tend to do better with activities where there are smaller amounts of people. Most church activities involve huge groups of people and events that are less intimate. 
  4. Everyone in the Elders' Quorums and Relief Society is asked to be home teachers and visiting teachers. The assignment is to visit with other predetermined people in the ward, either by coming to their home, calling, or leaving some sort of message. Basically, it's concentrated fellowshipping. Again, for introverts, they both have to visit someone and be visited by people, both of which they aren't fans. It's a little easier because it's one-on-one, but it's still uncomfortable.
  5. Mormons are huge on sharing their beliefs. They do so in missionary work, testimony meetings, etc. When it comes to missionary work, this means sharing something intimate with friends or complete strangers. In testimony meetings, you are asked to share your beliefs in front of the entire congregation from the pulpit as a way of strengthening those beliefs. For me, I'm not going to make myself vulnerable like that for crowds, friends with whom I've never had that type of relationship before, or complete strangers. It makes me very uncomfortable. 
  6. The Church relies on a lot of volunteer work, or lay clergy. Since no one is paid to preach, members are asked to conduct meetings, give sermons, and prepare lessons. Again, this could be in front of the entire congregation (100+ people). This could also occur in smaller meetings, anywhere from 10 to 50 people. Because many introverts dislike public speaking, this is definitely more of an extroverted activity. 
  7. Church culture encourages lots of displays of emotion. Feeling the Spirit is an overwhelming experience for many. It is very common to hear members cry or become emotional while they are doing any of the above activities: teaching, giving talks, bearing their testimonies, missionary work, etc. Introverts are not always comfortable with these occurrences, either seeing them or being asked to show powerful emotions themselves. Again, it puts them in a place of vulnerability, which they don't like. 
  8. Similar to #6, members are frequently asked to pray in front of others. Mormons like to have prayers before meals with the family, morning and/or evening prayers with family, and prayers before and after each meeting (not including personal prayers). This combines introvert's dislike of public speaking and their discomfort with making themselves vulnerable by sharing something intimate. 
To me, it's pretty obvious that this church was set up by extroverts for extroverts. And these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head - I'm sure there are more. Actually, many introverts may find these aspects of Church helpful, because they are learning to become more outgoing in a safe environment. But for many introverts, all of these items serve to alienate them in a culture that is very open, outgoing, and social - something that does not come naturally to me or other introverts. 

I'm also not sure what the Church should be doing to better include introverts. I would say for sure that some of our activities (dances, sporting events, etc.) should become more intimate and productive (honestly, anyone who isn't 16 is sick of those kinds of events anyway). 

But I do want to say that if you are an LDS introvert, you're definitely not alone. 

Thoughts? Comments? Disagreements? Observations? Praise? All are welcome in the comments below. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Feminism Needs YOU

Hey everyone! I haven't written in a while because I finally got a job! It's pretty exciting, especially since I actually got a job in my field that I LOVE. Which means that I generally get all of my need to write satiated at work.

I've been reading Lean In by Sharyl Sandberg (finally!). Really, everyone should check this book out. I've seen some criticisms of it, but overall, it is a genius book. Women and men can really benefit from what she has to say.

I'm all hopped up on empowering feminist juices from reading it. Which is one reason I really love feminism, by the way - it's so empowering! I really feel like I can conquer the world after reading feminist books like this one. So I start thinking, everyone I know should read this. My little sister, who is also growing into feminism, should definitely read this. You see, I kind of feel like a feminist mentor to my sister. Obviously, I'm not the ultimate feminist, but I know much more about it than she does. And she's not as eager to dive into the deep end as I am.

To be honest, my sister began embracing feminism because of me. I'm not saying this to brag or anything. I started a Pinterest board dedicated to feminism, and she saw the images. Some of the things I shared about fat-shaming and body acceptance really spoke to her. She decided to reject all of the societal pressures that made her feel inadequate when it came to her appearance (it's a journey, of course, but that decision is the first and most important step). Eventually, after learning that she liked this part of feminism, she slowly started to listen to and adopt others.

She is not the only one. I'm obviously not a huge star on the Internet, but I can say that I have influenced others to similarly embrace or publicize their feminism. I have had two women actually tell me this, thanking me for my bravery in sharing feminist messages online. I've seen a few other women who are following me start their own Pinterest boards dedicated to feminism, re-pinning some of the material that I first pinned.

Again, not bragging - I'm not sure if my addiction to social media is something to brag about (though it did help me get my job!). But there are two takeaway messages in this random post:

  1. Share your feminism! I promise it'll be worth it. It hasn't always been easy to me - I've had people argue with me over the things I've posted, people stop following me, old acquaintances see me in a different light, etc. But I feel that the few people I have influenced are worth it. 
  2. Online activism is important. It may not be as dramatic or difficult as marching in the streets, but it can be very powerful in a different way. Sometimes, people aren't going to be swayed by protestors, though they make a very impacting statement. But you will be able to reach those who are open to new ideas, if only the ideas are presented in the right way for them to digest. Really, there's a lot more someone can learn from reading an article or personal experience than a demonstration. Not to put down traditional activists - they are, of course, doing amazing and awe-inspiring work. I'm just saying that not all of us are cut out for doing that kind of thing, and we shouldn't feel guilty because we can do amazing things digitally. 
So be a feminist! Share the empowerment with other women! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Do Mormons have Christian Privilege?

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about privilege. If you're privy to feminism and feminist conversations, this term should come up a lot. There are lots of kinds of privilege, including white, male, Christian, cis, heterosexual, and probably more. You can learn more about it here, but I'm also just going to copy part of their definition here:
Privilege is notAbout you. Privilege is not your fault. Privilege is not anything you've done, or thought, or said. It may have allowed you to do, or think, or say things, but it's not those things, and it's not because of those things. Privilege is not about taking advantage, or cheating, although privilege may make this easier. Privilege is not negated. I can't balance my white privilege against my female disadvantage and come out neutral. Privilege is not something you can be exempt from by having had a difficult life. Privilege is not inherently bad. It really isn't. 
Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It's about advantages you have that you think are normal. It's about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It's about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf. 
Basically, privilege is about where you fall in the human hierarchical food chain. Some of my high school friends used to have this joke (that they probably didn't come up with) that in order to be the biggest minority, you'd have to be a black Jewish female lesbian, or something like that. And that's kind of what privilege is.

So, that being said, let's talk a little bit about Mormons and privilege.


Mormons are kind of weird. We are Christian because we believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior who Atoned for our sins and etc. Lots of other Christians don't want us to call ourselves "Christians" because we don't believe in the Godhead the same way most other Christians do. We believe in the Bible, but we also have the Book of Mormon. Basically, we're half in and half out of the majority of Christiandom. 

Mormons are also frequently a minority. In my high school, I was one of four Mormons, one of which was my sister. I can remember very vividly the day we talked about Mormons in my U.S. history class. I sat silently while my classmates asked our teacher if Mormons were the ones who never cut their hair and other far-fetched rumors and misconceptions. Most of them had never even heard of Mormons - they were obviously confusing us with Mennonites, Amish, and even Sikhism (I believe). It was only at the end that I revealed to everyone that I was one of these fantastical Mormons. From then on out, I would be called "MormaGirl," or "that Mormon girl," and random students I had never met would come up to me in the cafeteria and ask me if I was "the Mormon." 
The only place where this isn't the case at all is in Utah. Last I heard, Utah is 60% LDS, though Salt Lake City is only 40%. There are obviously other parts of the country where Mormons may not be the majority of the population, but they also are common enough that most people have heard of us and know the gist of what we're about.


Christianity is a type of privilege, at least in most of the Western world. Certainly in the U.S. Find out what exactly this means here. My question has been: if Mormons are Christians, do they have all of the same privileges that Christians tend to have? 

Let's look at the article with the 35 privileges that Christians have.

#3 - It is easy to find stores that carry items that enable you to practice your faith and celebrate religious holidays. Finding stores that are specifically geared towards LDS members is extremely hard outside of Utah. I don't think I ever knew of one in Massachusetts. However, finding stores that sell Christmas items – which Mormons do celebrate – is easy.
    #8 - You can practice your religious customs without being questioned, mocked, or inhibited.

No, practicing our religious customs has not been inhibited, at least not in modern times. That is definitely a big deal. But our religious customs are generally questioned and mocked. “Magic underwear” anyone? That wasn't a fun phase to go through.
    #11 - Positive references to your faith are seen dozens a time a day by everyone, regardless of their faith.

Sure, there are positive references to Mormonism. Many consider Mormons to be hard-working, polite, and clean-cut, giving them a reputation of being excellent hires. But there are also lots of bad references. We've been called a “cult” lots of times. People still can't seem to get over polygamy, even though that was over a hundred years ago.
    #14 - It is easy for you to find your faith accurately depicted in television, movies, books, and other media.

No. This almost never happens. Polygamy, Joseph Smith as a gold-digger, polygamy again, missionaries … Mormonism is apparently great fodder for cheap, cliché, over-used jokes.
    #15 - You can reasonably assume that anyone you encounter will have a decent understanding of your beliefs.

Nope. This would be a refreshing surprise. Even in Utah, lots of people who aren't LDS have some confused ideas about us (not that I can blame them).
    #17 - Your faith is accepted/supported at your workplace.

As a Mormon not living in Utah, your faith will probably be mocked and misunderstood in your workplace.
    #20 - Your faith can be an aspect of your identity without being a defining aspect (e.g., people won’t think of you as their “Christian” friend)

Like I said before, I've absolutely been known as the Mormon friend. This will change depending on where you live.
    #24 - You are never asked to speak on behalf of all the members of your faith.

I've done that many times. I've been trained to do that from an early age.
    #25 - It is unlikely you will be judged by the actions of other members of your faith.

Polygamy falls under this again, but also mainstream LDS political beliefs. People think that “Mormon feminist” is an oxymoron because of ultra conservative Mormons.
    #26 - You can go anywhere and assume you will be surrounded by members of your faith.

No. That's why we have special camps and conferences!
    #27 - Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of teachers who share your faith.
I've only ever had one teacher who had ever been LDS at any point in his life. That was the weirdest fluke ever.
    #28 - Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of friends who share your faith.

No, and that was sometimes difficult. But when I was going to elementary school in a very conservative part of California, I definitely had SOME LDS friends. As I've previously stated, that was not the case in high school. So again, this depends on your area.
    #29 - It is easily accessible for you or your children to be educated from kindergarten through post-grad at institutions of your faith.

I used to dream of a private elementary school that was LDS-run. Now I realize how weird that would be. But there are a few colleges that are LDS-run. BYU, BYU-I, BYU-H, LDS Business College, and Southern Virginia University (though that is not officially run by the Church).
    #32 - Your faith is taught or offered as a course at most public institutions.
Only in Utah.

So that's 14 out of 35 that I believe don't apply to Mormons. There are a few more on there, like having a jury of your peers that share your religious values, but I think in that case the fact that a jury of our peers would most likely be Christian counts as a privilege for us. (In fact, I think in Jodi Arias's Case, her defense tried to use her Mormon faith/culture in her trial.)

And obviously, almost all of these don't count in Utah. In Utah, Mormonism is the majority and the institution in power, so we do have Mormon privilege. That's an odd phenomenon, huh? 

What's the point of all of this? Absolutely nothing. It was honestly something that I was curious about. Obviously, while Mormons have endured lots of shit, especially in our early days, we are still higher up on the religion food chain in the U.S. than many other minority and misunderstood religions. I do not mean to lessen the experiences that those of real minority faiths. Though I do believe that being LDS in some areas can give us an idea of what it means to be a minority, we still enjoy many advantages that Christians in general have in this country.

EDIT: A few days later, this happened:

Then this:

I've never heard of that before. But I guess it happens.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is the modern world really that bad?

In Mormondom, you here a lot from leaders, local and higher up, that the world is getting worse with time. Our modern days are some of the wickedest ever seen, they'll warn. Something like that.

President Monson said in the latest edition of the Ensign (the July one):
"In the decades since the end of World War II, standards of morality have lowered again and again. Crime spirals upward; decency careens downward. Many are on a giant roller coaster of disaster, seeking the thrills of the moment while sacrificing the joys of eternity. Thus we forfeit peace."
Now, I'm not going to say that all of this is utterly false. I'm sure in many ways the world has gotten much worse. But I don't think things are as bad as they seem. I think to some of the leaders of the Church (especially the older ones), our present-day situation appears to be a lot worse than it actually is.

Here are some reasons I've come up with for why things SEEM worse, but aren't necessarily:

  1. Crime rates have gone up. This is in part because more laws and decisions have been made, creating more crimes. For example, up until relatively recently, it was still legal for a man to rape his wife. Nowadays we realize that marriage does not give you permission to force someone into having sex with you. 
  2. Crime rates have gone up. This is in part because our forensic sciences and technology has improved immensely. Go read a crime novel written in the 1920s (Dashiell Hammett is the big one). Now go watch an episode of "Castle," "Bones," or "Criminal Minds." There is a GINORMOUS difference in how these detectives solve their crimes - Hammett's characters mainly had to piece together circumstantial evidence and witness testimonies. They didn't have fingerprinting, security cameras, medical technology, or any of the other things we take for granted on our modern-day crime shows (admittedly, some of the stuff Angela does on "Bones" can't be fully realistic, but that doesn't take away from the fact that we have made huge strides in our technology). This all leads to more arrests, more convictions, and more people with jail time. (Admittedly, this does not change the statistic of actual crimes as much as it affects the statistics of criminals. Still, I see those numbers going hand in hand when we mourn the state of this world.)
  3. As our world becomes more globalized, we will hear more and more about horrific events and crimes that happen further away from us. Back in the 1950s, we weren't able to Wikipedia the youngest murderer ever (it's about 8. I checked a few years ago). We didn't have the technology to film or photograph many of the really awful things that happened. Our fiction wasn't even as graphic or imaginative as it is now.
  4. Divorce rates are higher. General Authorities, and for that matter, many of the critics of feminism, love to talk about this one. Lots of people blame feminists for it. But really, why do we assume that all divorce is bad? In the 1950s, a woman could not divorce her husband, even if he was abusive, either because the law was not on her side or because she was not financially dependent. Do we really want to go back to the "good ole' days" of when there was abuse, but it was never reported or talked about? Of course, I'm not trying to trivialize divorce because I know it can have lots of negative consequences for many of the people involved; but I do think we're only looking at the negatives, when in reality, many positive things can come from divorce as well.
  5. Standards are lower. The problem with this is that standards are all relative. For example, it used
    to be scandalous for a woman in the U.S. to show her ankles. Now, we laugh at that. In a hundred years, we may think it's funny that we used to find butts sexually appealing. The LDS church has SOMEWHAT codified their standards, meaning that some of them have not wavered in like, fifty years. At least, we believe that to be true. In actually, many of the more "petty" standards the Church used to promote have changed quite a bit. In the 1950s, the For the Strength of Youth... used to tell young women that it was inappropriate to leave the house with curlers in your hair. I'm serious! Check it out here. So while the Church has never really changed it's position on sex before marriage, it has changed it's position on modesty standards (tank tops used to be okay); alcohol, tobacco, and coffee; polygamous marriages; and many other large and small standards. What I think this proves is ... IT'S OKAY TO BE FLEXIBLE ON
So what does this all mean? While we should continue listening to our ecclesiastical leaders, maybe we don't need to be quite so depressed when they say the world is getting worse. We don't need to feel like we're so much more righteous than the rest of the world. We might make different choices on what we consider is "worldly" or not. 

And, it might make us a little happier living in this world.