Thursday, April 11, 2013

Self-Reliance Versus Charity

For the past few months, I've been working as a freelance writer for a food storage company. It's been a completely different experience for me - I've always found emergency preparedness and food storage boring before. Now, I actually find it quite interesting.

Frequently, I run into resources that are affiliated with the Church. The books I read are mainly written by authors living in Utah, website I come across are made by members, etc. I don't think you could be a prepper or survivalist without being aware of the Church's involvement with emergency preparedness.

It really shows this attitude that members of the Church have. Because the Church has constantly pushed emergency preparedness, members develop a deep appreciation for self-reliance. And I can understand that - I think it'd be awesome to grow my own food, be prepared for any type of emergency, have parts of my house run on solar power, grown-up stuff like that. Those are goals I want to achieve, for the sake of saving money, being environmentally friendly, convenience, and as activities that will make me feel good about myself. As soon as my husband and I are in the phase of home-ownership, that is.

You can also see how the self-reliance attitude enters in to all parts of members' lives. I always marvel at how many Latter-day Saints can be so conservative in their political beliefs when it seems like liberalism falls more in line with the charity of Jesus Christ. Of course, socially, stances on abortion and gay marriage are similar between LDS doctrine and conservatism. But I'm thinking more like socialized healthcare - aren't we supposed to be taking care of our neighbors without judgement? Of course, that is a different issue I don't want to get into now.

I just believe that the attitude of self-reliance and the attitude of constant charity clash. Members are so proud of self-reliance that they stop being charitable indiscriminately. A problem arrises when self-reliance becomes so important to members that they reject receiving or giving outside help in any areas of their lives. They start to decide that one group or person does not deserve their help or charity because they are homeless, they are immigrants, they have made poor life decisions, or they wear pajamas and eat McDonald's all of the time.

The attitude of self-reliance should not be one that interferes with Jesus's ultimate commandment, which is to love one another. When Christ says in Matthew 6:3
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
I have always interpreted that to mean that you must give indiscriminately. I grew up hearing the excuses of why you should not give to homeless beggars or panhandlers because they'll use the money for drugs or booze, or because they should be trying to find a job instead of wasting their time begging. I've heard that you should try to buy them a sandwich instead of giving pocket change (which isn't terrible, and probably is the option that most people feel comfortable with, including myself). But Jesus never said "only give to the people who you know will use it the way you want them to use it." He never had caveats. In fact, He's a big proponent of not judging anyone, remember? He only said give!

So to me, self-reliance means that you must have yourself and your family fully taken care of before you can fully give indiscriminately. Self-reliance means not making yourself someone in need of charity while you are trying to give charity yourself. It does not mean holding out or judging others.  

And, absolutely, self-reliance is not more important than charity.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Conference Weekend

Such an exciting weekend! So many things happened!!! And I was able to stay in my pjs in bed for all of them!

So first, TWO women prayed in General Conference!!! All you naysayers better shut up, because the bottom line here is that WOMEN PRAYED IN GENERAL CONFERENCE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALL OF RECORDED CHURCH HISTORY. There are still some critics yelling at the contributors to the Let Women Pray movement about how we don't understand revelation, how the pray-ers were selected months ago, how God decides things and not us, blah blah blah. It's all a bunch of negativity, and whether or not those commenters are intending to, they're really tearing us down. Choosing to ignore and just celebrate.

Let's get a picture in here:

Second, a project I've been a part of just kicked off this weekend! The project is "I'm a Mormon feminist." We put together a website,, and we are gathering lots of submissions. We have pictures of Mormon feminists holding signs, profiles featuring Mormon feminists, and videos of Mormon feminists telling their stories. It's all pretty exciting.

If you want to extra support us, we also have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest account, and YouTube channel. We're all over the place!!!

Facebook: here
Twitter: here
Pinterest: here
YouTube: here

Like and share all of our stuff to spread the word!!!

This is me!!! And I am awesome!!!

And lastly: I was a guest blogger over at Young Mormon Feminists, which is just about the coolest thing ever. Young Mormon Feminists was one of my first introduction to Mormon feminism, and I really love them and everything they do. 

Check it out here!

So yay everyone! Happy MoFem/Conference weekend!!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm an introverted feminist

I think one of the reasons why I'm a feminist is because I'm also very much an introvert. It's not obvious right away, but feminism actually tells you that it's okay to be an introvert. Here is a list of ways that feminism is inclusive of introverts.

I don't own this picture. Feel free to yell at me if it is yours.
1. Feminism teaches you that you do not have to talk to strangers if you don't want to. Especially men. You do not owe them anything, particularly not your comfort. You do not have to stand there and pretend to be nice. You can say, “I have to go,” or “I don't want to talk right now.” In response, the stranger might call you a bitch, but you'll know deep down that you aren't.

2. Have you ever hated it when someone tells you to smile? Like, what's so inherently worthwhile about a smile? Can't I sometimes be in a mood where I don't feel like smiling? Feminism tells you that you don't have to smile for anyone. You body is your own and is does not exist to please anyone else – this applies to simple smiles as well as sexual acts. People may think they're trying to brighten your day when they ask you to smile, but really, it's just another form of objectification. You do not exist to make anyone else happy.

3. What if a guy is hitting on you or trying to flirt with you? Feminism encourages you to ditch that guy, even if you have to be rude about it. Again, you don't owe him anything, except maybe a little common curtesy. Even then, you don't owe them common curtesy if they are being rude, overly aggressive, or making you feel uncomfortable.

4. I sometimes feel bad if I'm not being social enough, or if I think about how I don't have as many friends as other people. I wonder what I'm doing wrong. I wonder what's wrong with me that this comes so naturally to other people and not to me. Feminism is constantly trying to fight against the idea that there is one societal standard for how to act. Generally, they are fighting against gender roles, over-sexualization, modesty police, and other societal expectations, but the same logic still applies to introverts. You do not have to be extroverted. You should not feel bad because you are different from other people. Embrace who you truly are when society isn't telling you who to be!

5. Feminists believe there shouldn't be one standard for attractiveness. This applies to how you physically look, such as facial features, body weight, body hair, etc., but also applies to how you behave. You should not have to be overly flirty and friendly or hyper sexual in your actions to be attractive. If it isn't natural to you to behave that way, then don't. You're still attractive. Women and men who are super flirty and friendly are also attractive. There is no one way to act that makes you more attractive than others – unless you're like, being a racist dick or something.

6. Sometimes, being an introvert means you dress a certain way. Obviously, not all introverts dress a specific way. But sometimes I dress in a way that reflects the fact that I don't want any social interactions. Or just because it's comfortable. Feminism tells me that it's okay not to dress hyper-feminine, super fancy, or the way everyone else is dressing. Feminism also tells me it is okay to dress that way when I feel like it! I do not feel the need for makeup, doing my hair, or semi-presentable clothing most days. Some days, I don't even feel like getting out of my pajama pants. Whether or not that is a symptom of introversion, I feel supported by feminism when I make those choices.

To sum up, I believe that feminism teaches me that it's okay to be me. Feminism encourages me to do whatever the fuck makes me comfortable in my own skin. As an introvert, I really love feminism!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A feminist review of "Family: Guidebook"

I was really excited this Sunday when we were about to get a new manual. I'm a huge nerd! I like to have new books and new things to read. (And I like the smell and feel of paper ...)

It only took me a few pages to be disappointed by Family: Guidebook, which is published and distributed by the Church.

On page two, the manual talks about the organization of the family. I began to highlight the words used to describe fathers. Fathers "preside," have "power and authority," and "leads." He has strength, power, and authority within the family. His duties are to provide for the material necessities and spiritual needs of the family; to perform priesthood ordinances and remain worthy of holding the priesthood; and guide the family through spiritual activities. I was going to compare my highlighted words with the words they used to describe mothers.

And then we get to the section on mothers:

"The mother is an equal partner and counselor to her husband. She helps him teach their children the laws of God. If there is no father in the home, the mother presides over the family" (page 3).

So while the father gets A FULL PAGE dedicated to his duties and responsibilities, mothers get one paragraph - 3 sentences. Along with that, every single one of those sentences has the father in them as well as the mother. There doesn't even seem to be the tired "mothers are nurturers" bit in there.

I'm happy that they included the "equal partners," but it doesn't seem to be demonstrated in this lesson book. I was really hurt reading this and feeling like mothers somehow didn't matter as much as the men did.

This is followed by another paragraph that combines fathers and mothers. If you are being generous, this brings the total up to 2 shared paragraphs that mothers have dedicated to them.

Why is this important?

Yeah, I know, this seems like a whole lot of a feminist getting upset over something relatively little.

But it is important. When the Church tells me that I am equal to men, that I have just as many duties and responsibilities as them, that I have the same amount of worth and importance, I would like to see them walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I don't feel important when I am regulated to two roles - wife and mother - and then one of those roles is being demonstrated as less important than the male counterpart (fatherhood). I have been told many, many times how important motherhood is -  so why isn't it important in this manual that is supposed to guide how I work within my family?

Yes, this is just one tiny (seriously, it's only 26 pages) manual that are "more like guidelines anyway." But, actually, it really isn't. This is almost every manual, every lesson I have in Sunday School and Relief Society, the way many die-hard Mormons choose to live their lives just because the Church tells them to, and the attitude that has been completely adopted by the Church.

Bonus Round

This is a bonus round because it's been said before and I don't need to go into detail here. But I ABSOLUTELY HATE THE WORD "PRESIDE." A couple cannot be equal and also have one of them presiding at the same time.

(This lovely meme can be found, along with other brilliant ones, on Facebook here. Enjoy!)