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!