11 November 2013

And The Lord Sayeth to His Disciples... Vote For Abi!

So... I don't normally do this... but eff it... doing it anyway.

My friend Abi Harrison is a comedian. And she competes against boys... because she's awesome. Right now, she is the ONLY girl, and is up against 29 other guys.

And she's in 3rd place. Because she's awesome. Duh.

So help a girl out! She's hilarious, and we need her to win. It's going to launch her career into high gear, and we need more women in comedy. You can only vote once a day, but you can vote everyday til next Monday. She's Mormon... but this ain't your BYU Mormon comedy. Vote for Abi!!

Here's her entry video, and the link to vote.

Here's some of her other awesomeness...

08 November 2013

I Need Feminism

I'm not a feminist because I think it's fun. I'm not a feminist because I'm gay, or because I like to stir up trouble. I'm a feminist because I feel unequal and marginalized in the vast majority of experiences and day to day life of being a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I feel unequal when there are more a lot more men’s voices in religious texts, meetings, leadership positions, and decision making bodies.

I feel unequal when callings that don’t require the priesthood are given only to men: Sunday School Presidency, BYU, BYU-I and BYU-Hawaii Presidents, Church Education Commissioners, Ward Mission Leaders, recommend takers at the Temple, etc. (Similarly, men are not currently called in Primary Presidencies and should be.)

I feel unequal when women doing the same job are called by different titles (i.e. "the missionaries" vs. "the sister missionaries", Sister vs. President) and/or are accessories to rather than serving equally with their husbands, i.e. Mission President’s wives.

I feel unequal when I have a calling as an auxiliary leader and have to get approval of every decision by men and/or when I am not invited to attend Priesthood Executive Committee meetings (PEC) which directly influence my stewardships.

I feel unequal when my value is primarily linked to being a wife and mother rather than by being a child and daughter of God.

I feel unequal when the men in my life acknowledge that they have no female spiritual leaders in their wards or communities.

I feel unequal when women have less prominent, prestigious, and public roles in the church, even before and after child rearing years.

I feel unequal because even one of the most inherently female-dominated time periods, having a new baby, is publicly displayed at church in an all male ritual of the baby blessing.

I feel unequal when males handle 100% of the church finances.

I feel unequal when I am taught at church that my husband presides in my family, he is the head, and all things being equal, he still has the final say.

I feel unequal when people preach that men and women are completely equal and in the same breath say the above sentence.

I feel unequal when I realize that at church all men have the final say. Good leaders might consult with female auxiliary leaders, but ultimately even after being called to a position via inspiration, men still make the final decisions.

I feel unequal when cub scouts and boy scouts have a larger budget than achievement days and Young Women's and thus, they often have better activities.

I feel unequal when the Young Women and Young Men’s programs have such different manuals, budgets, activities, etc.

I feel unequal when fathers and mothers are encouraged to fulfill primary roles to provide and nurture, but only the fathers are given the freedom to seek out the best way for them to provide, whereas, mothers are told the best way for them to nurture—to be stay at home moms.

I feel unequal when men teach me that being a stay at home mother is the most important thing a person could do, and yet most of them do not do it.

I feel unequal when people do not emphasize fatherhood as much as they do motherhood and when we have numerous annual lessons on the priesthood and I’m not taught anything about the woman’s role as a priestess.

I feel unequal in primary when most of the lessons and songs are about men although most of the teachers and leaders are women.

I feel unequal because church disciplinary courts are made up of solely men and there are no female voices in the very sensitive matters of church discipline.

I feel unequal when women have to talk to men about their sins, especially sexual ones, and have no other church sanctioned options.

I feel unequal because most men, even inspired ones, can’t fully understand or provide enough resources for sexual abuse.

I feel unequal when young girls are taught about modesty and chastity from older men, especially because females make decisions about these things for very different reasons than males.

I feel unequal because many of the official church declarations and proclamations have no female input, regardless of how drastically they affect women.

I feel unequal when there are no checks and balances for females who experience abuse in the system. While abuse may be rare, it is terrifying that women have no resources to go to outside of the male hierarchy.

I feel unequal because the Relief Society’s autonomy was taken away and it became an auxiliary presided over by men.

I feel unequal when women’s financial autonomy isn't encouraged as much as men’s at church and/or church schools.

I feel unequal because men conduct, men preach, men speak. Men teach us how to be women.

I feel unequal because local leaders rarely use gender inclusive language even though church manuals and General Conference talks try to do so.

I feel unequal when men speak at Relief Society and Young Women’s meetings, but women never speak in priesthood meetings.

I feel unequal when there are very few women’s voices in our official correlated church manuals.

I feel unequal when women don’t pray (until April 2013) in General Conference and usually only give 2 or 3 of the many talks.

I feel unequal because men and women can be sealed to different numbers of people.

I feel unequal in the temple because women a have different script and role.

I feel unequal when female employees of the Church Educational System and temple ordinance workers are no longer allowed to keep their positions after they have children.

I feel unequal because we know very little about Heavenly Mother and her role in the Godhead and there doesn't seem to be any emphasis on the part of our leaders to pray and find out more about Her. I don’t know what my divine potential means as a female and that makes me feel less important.

I feel unequal because all of these concerns are mediated by male leaders and that they are only as important as these men deem them so. While most of our leaders are wonderful, there is very little in the structure or doctrine to prevent male leaders from misogyny or benevolent sexism.

I feel unequal when these gender inequalities are not acknowledged by leaders. It is difficult to be a female in a patriarchal church and we are trying our best to make it work. Acknowledgement of that difficulty would go a long way.

I'm a feminist because it emulates how Christ treated women. Christ refused to condemn the woman caught in adultry, and reminded us that we all are guilty of sin. Christ prefered Mary sitting at His feet listening and learning, rather than in the kitchen, slaving away with Martha. Christ treasured the widow's mite over the rich man's showy gift. Christ took time to engage with the woman at the well rather than shunning her. Christ first appeared to Mary Magdeline after His resurrection, rather than to His disciples.

Feminism looks like valuing women's opinions and perspectives, rather than passing them over for a man's opinion. It looks like valuing women who work outside the home, just as much as women who choose to be stay at home moms. Feminism looks like loving women, and accepting women as respected equals.

07 November 2013

The Life That's Waiting For Us

When I was 17 years old, my parents sent me to a residential treatment center to begin and finish my senior year of high school. The experience was not the worst experience of my life, but it tore me down bit by bit, inch by inch, until there was little left of the light, and strength of my spirit. It tore my self confidence to shreds. The experience taught me that no matter the pain or heartache I had experienced in the past, I was solely at fault for everything that had happened.

Observing the interactions with my family was telling as well. Very few letters, awkward and shorter than allotted phone calls, and being the only one whose parents did not permit them to go home for Christmas. I learned that I had
earned their tolerance rather than their unconditional love.

This is only one side of the story, and not a complete one at that, but it conveys accurately the feelings of my heart... Feelings from 7 years ago, and feelings from today.

During my time there, I developed the belief that God alone could save me. That God alone could heal my afflictions and mistakes. I believed that with enough faith, with enough devotion, I would be made whole.

This led me to the Church. I was yearning for truth in a way I had never sought before. I was entranced in the idea that righteousness brings blessings. And the only blessing that I wanted was to be made whole. To be made into the image that God intended. To see myself in the way God saw me. And it was a bitter pill to swallow when I realized that after two years of strict adherence to the letter of the law... nothing happened. My family relations were still non existent. I was still broken. I was still gay. And it only led to more self loathing, more self hatred, and more failure.

But it lead me to really open my eyes. That's when my search for truth took off. And the truth I found, while unorthodox and unexpected, was exactly what I needed.

I learned the truth. I learned that while I had done wrong, and that I was to blame for the vast majority of it, I was not to blame for all of it. I learned that my parents had done wrong, and they were to blame for some of it, but not all of it. My classmates, teachers, neighbors, friends, bullies... they were all to blame for some, but all. They were to blame for their words, and their actions towards me. I was to blame for my words and actions, and for all of the hurt that I caused. But I learned not to carry blame that was not my own.

From that day forward, I learned that healing was possible. I learned how to have compassion and forgiveness for my fellow men and women. I no longer looked for their faults, but instead I looked for their good. For their praiseworthy actions. I learned to recognize that all of us have done wrong. You. Me. Your spouse. Your dog. Some of those wrongs were done intentionally, but most weren't. Some of these wrongs were severely painful, and others were not.

Because Christ's Atonement is infinite, I've been able to forgive myself. I've forgiven myself for my lack of self control, and inability to think before I speak. I have forgiven myself for the wrong I have done. Because after all we can do, Christ's Atonement picks up the slack. When I drop to the floor in exhaustion and anguish, He picks me back up. He carries me until I have the strength to stand on my own. And on those marathons where I am too fat and out of shape to finish, He carries me to the finish. He is there. He knows me to my very core. He knows the intentions of our hearts. He is there.

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." - Joseph Campbell