Thursday, March 8, 2012

An awkward feminist

Man oh man have women been in the press lately. And of course I have opinions. I don't know why this blog has turned into my political sounding board, but it has. Sorry if you're apathetic.

WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD TODAY?

I don't swear, so my blog doesn't swear...

I would never think I was a die hard feminist. Someday, I want to have kids and be a stay at home mom. I love that idea.  However, I don't think what I want is right for everyone and that everyone else should want that too. I think women should have just as much power as men when it comes to making their own decisions. I will tell you that the stay at home mom thing is COMPLETELY my decision. If I wanted to work full time, get a graduate degree, do anything I want, I know Chad would support me 100%. I am not oppressed. I made this decision. 

I think everyone has the right to decide. I think that is what is upsetting me the most. I feel like there has been a lot of craziness happening in the world of women's rights.

Roe vs. Wade:
Really? We are debating this again? I do not agree with abortion, I will never get an abortion, I would never tell a friend who has confided in me that they should get an abortion, but I do not think abortions should be illegal. Should there be restrictions? Yes. Would you like to know what happens when something is illegal? It still happens, but in a wholly unsafe way. It's back alleys and coat hangers and horribleness. Also, it leads to more unwanted children in the world. Unwanted children doesn't mean more children to adopt for families that can't have kids necessarily. It leads to kids who aren't raised with a parent or parents who love them unconditionally. It leads to abandoned children.. just take a look at Romania's history. When abortion was banned in Romania it led to 1 million plus children living in orphanages and not enough resources to care for them.
Also, Rick Santorum has said, basically, that you should make lemonade from lemons if you have been impregnated by a rapist. That you should treasure it. WOW. Rape is a horrific experience in general. I can't imagine after trying to recover from that, then finding out your pregnant, how that must feel. It just makes me so upset I don't even have words. He even claims if it happened to his daughter he would still be firmly pro-life. I'm throwing the BS flag on the field or diagnosing him as a sociopath. I just can't believe any dad would look into his daughters scared eyes and say, "what a blessing" after finding out that she was assaulted and now has even more additional baggage to deal with. Also, imagine that conversation that mother would have with the child. Either the "why did you give me up?" (because you remind me of the most traumatic event of my life) or the "who is my dad?" (this horrible man that forced himself upon me)

P.S. I HATE the terms pro-life and pro-choice. I am pro- life choice.

New Mexico:
I saw this story on the Huffington Post today and it made me so upset. Honestly, I would love to see every single teacher/ administrator at that school fired. To expel someone for being pregnant is ridiculous. To then have them come back and make them stand on the stage in front of their entire school and tell everyone they are pregnant is cruel. I cannot believe that adults would let this happen. Isn't there enough tormenting going on in schools already? Why add to it by putting her personal struggle on display like that. If this had happened to my (hypothetical) child... oh man there would be HELL. I would not rest until everyone was fired, my child's new private education and the cost to take her to/from was paid in full by the school district etc. 

Perhaps the school thought this was the best way to keep others from having sex/ getting pregnant. Which brings me to another issue I'm struggling with...

Utah:
Utah has passed a bill that says schools can only teach abstinence based sex ed and that teachers aren't allowed to answer any questions a student has about sex, contraceptives or homosexuality. REALLY? They said that they had a different sex ed program in place and it didn't reduce the number of teenage pregnancies so they thought this was best. Also, they don't want outsiders telling children stuff they should be learning about in their home.

Let's poke some holes in this.... perhaps the reason teenage pregnancy is so high in Utah is less what they're taught (or not taught) in schools, and more because of Utah culture. Utah has a VERY large Mormon population. Mormons are very strict about their beliefs that sex should wait till marriage, and it is also, mostly, a lot of small towns. Teenagers are going to have sex, not all of them, but some will. No teenager wants their parents to find out they had/ are having sex. If the only way to get any sort of birth control in Utah is to have a store employee unlock the display case for you or go to your Dr. you're not going to do that.  Not to mention that store employee/ Dr. is a member of your religion/ congregation and now knows what you're up to and will most likely tell your parents... Those measures aren't sex deterrents, they're just going to cause teens to not have safe sex. That's why teenage pregnancy is high.
Second, the reason sex ed has shown up in schools is because society does a crap job of preparing their kids for it. Also, there is not a single teenager on earth that wants to have a conversation like that with their parents. Heck I got married at 27 and I was worried my mother was going to give me a sex talk. I was almost skittish around her during my entire engagement. If a kid isn't taught anything from his parents, which knowing Mormon culture VERY well I know a lot of Mormon parents won't talk to their children about it, and doesn't learn about it in school- where are they suppose to learn about this? They, most likely, can't even ask another trusted adult because their teacher isn't allowed to talk to them about it and they're not asking a religious adult they trust because they worry it will go back to their parents again. 

Birth Control/ Sandra Fluke:
 First why is Rush even on the air still. Gosh I feel like all he's doing is saying thing to enrage other people. Second, what I found most offensive about his rant is that he was incorrect and creepy. He was incorrect, the measure wasn't saying the federal government was to pay for contraceptives- it was that employers and health insurance companies would pay for it. And second he's creepy in that he thinks that anyone using contraceptive should post a video online of them having sex so he can get value for what he paid for. So he flat out says that he should get to watch all the porn he wants because some women don't want to get pregnant. I take personal offense at his statements. I'm on birth control and it's not so I can be a floosy and sleep around, it's so that my husband and I can enjoy the beginning of our marriage and not bring a child into the world when we are not at all able to provide the type of home we want for it. By type of home we want for it I don't mean I think I should wait till all our debt is gone and we have a nice house and a closet full of baby gap clothing, I mean until we are mature enough to care for it correctly. Until we are at a place where we have health insurance for a child, and resources to live on. Right now my job barely pays for the minimal bills Chad and I currently have. If we were to try to add a baby to this mix right now it just wouldn't work. 

I'm upset. 

I'm upset that we seem to lack compassion for those around us, but demand tolerance from those who lack compassion for us.  I am seriously blown away by the words of people today. I can't stand people who think that their values and views are so superior that they need to be forced on everyone else. I challenge everyone to just stop and take a look at the counter argument. What would you do if you were in their shoes? What about if it was your mother, daughter, wife, best friend etc.? 

P.S. Feel free to debate me... I enjoy counter arguments and learning more why people think what they do... just play nice and respect all.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

100% Opinion... but I want to share

I really want to emphasis that this is 100% my opinion and I do not represent anyone at all when I make this opinion, but as a student of history and an outspoken feminist Mormon I thought I would compile my opinion on the matter... do what you want with it.

It seems there has been a lot to do with the embarrassing history of black members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS for short). A lot of it has been kicked up by The Washington Post article about this topic. A lot of people were up in arms about what Bro. Bott said in this article. I'm not going to address his thoughts, I'm sure it's been addressed elsewhere. I'm going to address the sentiment of the time and perhaps put the whole controversy in context.

In 1830 the LDS church was established in upstate New York. In1804 all the Northern states (states north of the Mason-Dixon line) had passed laws to abolish slavery gradually. Congress in 1807 banned the international slave trade. Slavery faded in the border states and urban areas but expanded in highly profitable cotton states of the Deep South.

 So let's think about Joseph Smith's background (the founder of the LDS church). Study into his family will show that they are from the North and were pretty progressive in that day and age. Since slavery had been abolished where Smith lived since before his birth I think it's safe to assume he had a pretty progressive stance on the position of African American's as equal citizens. Those beliefs would explain why he was very comfortable with the idea African Americans having the same privileges in the early LDS church as any other person.

Let's now fast forward a few years. The LDS church has bounced around the United States quite a bit. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri. For those of you who slept through History class, Missouri wasn't exactly the best place to be... it was a frontier state, which are notoriously rough places to live, and a state caught up in constant and somewhat extreme turmoil. In 1820 the Missouri Compromise was passed. It said that slavery would not exist in any of the new territories except Missouri. So the LDS church went from free state to free state to free state to slave state. The slave state status of Missouri was tempestuous and caused a lot of concern for many people. So now imagine if you will, you are a slave owner living in Missouri and a lot of abolitionists (assumption here, since many LDS at this time are from the North, I think it's a safe one) are moving into your state in the 1830's. You would be very wary of the newcomers. They also have a weird new religion and are quickly bringing in many more people every day to live in the state. Wouldn't you assume they're doing this to overturn the slavery laws? Perhaps you think it's best to drive them out, using any means necessary. Now, imagine you're the leader of this new group. You and your followers have put down roots, you've built homes, stores, places of worship, you believe that Missouri is your promised land, wouldn't you want to do anything to you could to stop the persecution? This is the time frame and scenery when the LDS church stopped ordaining their black members to the Priesthood. Is it correct? No, but at a time where a black person was considered not even human by many, treating them as an equal was a very radical idea.

At this time the early LDS church also made a lot of policies during these times in regards to black people. One was that they would not preach to them. The reasoning for this was also founded in the time. When Mormon men went to preach around the US they encouraged members to join the other Saints in Missouri/ Illinois. How could you tell a slave in the south all about the LDS church doctrine and then ask them to join the saints without asking them to run away? That was illegal, so leaders informed the members to not preach to the black/ slave community in the south. 

So now let's fast forward again. Joseph Smith has been killed and Brigham Young is chosen to replace him and lead the LDS people during another time of upheaval. This is still a time where the LDS church is growing rapidly and struggling. A lot of people splinter from the LDS church for a variety of reasons, but the basic is that they feel someone else should led the LDS church. If you're a leader in that setting you want to provide leadership and answers for your flock. Brigham Young joined the LDS church right before it moved to Missouri so for most of his membership he didn't see any black men receive the Priesthood and he was a scriptorium. He knew his scriptures, so I'm sure at this time he made what he thought was a solid connection between the curse of Cain/ Ham, black people, and Priesthood rights. He was not alone in this assumption, it was a pretty common thought preached over many pulpits at the time by all denominations.

So then after a very long time the Civil rights movement occurred in the United States. Black people were finally told, separate wasn't equal (1954) and that segregation will not be allowed (1964). It took the United States a long time to get to this point in history. And change was slow. VERY SLOW. They were slow to understand that equality is for all, that the color of your skin doesn't mean you're any different.

The LDS church was also slow. LDS members are taught that anything the previous prophet has said is from God. The major hiccup here is that at the time of Brigham Young's presidency, pretty much anything he said, either as The President of the LDS church or just as Brigham Young, citizen of the US, was recorded and considered doctrine. So how does a church catch up to the times? It waits until its leader brings about new doctrine. I don't know why this doctrine did not come till 1978, but then I consider the LDS belief about how a person receives revelation. The idea being that members of the LDS church receive inspiration after they have studied it out, come to a decision and prayed to God about it. Now the belief at this time was that a Prophet of God said that black men will not receive the Priesthood in this life. It takes a very confident President of the LDS church to decide to go ponder, make a decision and ask God if you're correct that you should overturn something you have always learned was doctrine. I know I could never be that bold, I am very grateful that Spencer W. Kimball was; as "late" as he was.

I am not trying to defend the actions of the past, I am very happy I live in an equal rights slave free world, but I thought seeing everything through a historical perspective is important to understand why people did what they did. 

Many people argue that the LDS church should release a statement saying that Brigham Young was wrong. I truly believe that will never happen. I think it would shake many people. To say that something a President/ Prophet said was wrong is to call into question every single one of his other statements and the authority, most LDS people believe he had. LDS people believe he was the mouthpiece of God. So the LDS church will say that Bro. Bott was wrong, but it will never officially come out and say a prophet was.

So on behalf of me I would like to say sorry. I'm sorry people with different skin tones were (and still are) treated poorly. And I'm personally sorry that the church I belong to wasn't ahead of the curve when it comes to Equal Rights.

Feel free to comment and share differing opinions or insights...

References:
My own extensive knowledge of LDS history
My own extensive knowledge of US history
https://www.dialoguejournal.com/2012/mormonisms-negro-doctrine-an-historical-overview/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_compromise

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