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!)

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I've never been able to figure out what Church leaders mean by "men preside but couples are totally equal!!" Uh...okay then.