Shut the door!

The intersection of LDS discipleship and conscious citizenship

About Ordain Women

I want to talk about Ordain Women. Not for it or against it, because I know lots of lovely, intelligent, articulate women on both sides of the issue, and frankly, I’m not even sure if female ordination is a thing that I want/need etc. I don’t want to talk about their political tactics and whether or not they should ask to come to Priesthood Session. I want to talk about what Ordain Women did.

They took a prophet literally.

No. That’s really what they did. Now, you can argue about whether or not he was speaking as a prophet of God in that moment, or the president of corporate body known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (not to be confused with the religious body that also has the same name) as long as you want.

What Gordon B. Hinckley, the prophet that I grew up with and love and cherish, said this, when asked what it would take to give the priesthood to women:

RB: So you’d have to get a revelation?

GBH: Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it.

Compass Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley, Aired: November 09, 1997 

Well, now there is agitation. There is a group of women in this church who are asking for further light and knowledge, something that we have also seen done by prophets throughout time. Our church was founded by a young man who felt something amiss with the spiritual arrangements of his day and so he asked. And he got a revelation. Throughout the Doctrine and Covenants, we see Joseph repeatedly going to the Lord and asking for revelation, for understanding, for truth, and again and again he was answered.

These women are not claiming to have received revelation for themselves or for the church directing that they should have the priesthood. They are turning to the prophet and beseeching him to ask.

And why are they doing that?

I cannot speak for all of them, but as I have talked to women in this church, I have found that many share similar sentiments to my own. I would not feel comfortable speaking in numbers, because I do not know percents or have raw data. So I am just going to speak for myself.

I will never hold a position in this church where I can make a decision that a man cannot override.

There are many positions that I cannot hold because I am a female that have nothing to do with gender. I cannot be a finance clerk or a counselor in the Sunday School presidency.

Men can come and sit in on lessons in Relief Society. Women are not welcome to attend Elder’s Quorum.

These may seem like little things, and they may be, but they’re indicative of a larger issue in the church. I go to the temple and feel cut off from God. I see Eve silenced, and I am veiled, literally and figuratively from communicating with the Lord. I serve my husband. My husband serves the Lord. I am taught that I am eternally separated from him. I will always be one step removed from His presence.

We claim the existence of a Heavenly Mother and yet we know nothing about her. So we turn to Heavenly Father as our understanding of divinity, and as a male, we follow His example, and put men in charge. Mother is silent, and I’ve heard so many reasons why that may be the case but none of them have satisfied me and my soul-deep ache to know more about her.

We learn in the Family Proclamation that the family is God’s plan for his children and it requires a mother and a father and they both have different roles and this because women and men are different and gender is essential and eternal.

If men and women are different and gender is essential and eternal, and then we cut off access to the female half of God, we are denying women the ability to have a role model of divine womanhood. For whatever reason you want to concoct, because there is no official doctrinal reason, I’ve looked for one, we are telling women your ability to know a female version of godliness is less important than the male version of Godliness. Is Mother decorating Kolob for eternity? Is She perfecting her recipe for enchiladas or hummus? Is She canning celestial peaches? What is She doing? Does she work with Father to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of her children? I would hope so. And if the most crucial part of our eternal lifespan is spent on the earth, is She interacting with Her children in some way while they are here?

If women are eternally nurturers, and are responsible for the nurturing of children, then it seems really odd to me that we, as a church, are preaching the eternal nature of the family, and then effectively putting us all in a single parent home while subjecting the children to soul-crushing amounts of stress. It seems that this is the time when She would be most involved with Her children.

But no, we must not invoke Mother. We must not talk to Mother. We are pointed to Christ and we are told that Christ suffered not just for our sins in the garden, but also for our pain and our sorrow and that he knows the heartbreak of a miscarriage because he experienced it.

And then we are told that motherhood is equal to priesthood.

Well if Christ knows of the pains of motherhood as a man, and we are taught that we have the capacity to be like God, then is it possible we are overstating the necessary separation of the genders here? Motherhood is held up as the highest possible role for women in this church, and yet Christ showed that those pains are not unique to females. He, as a male, was able to experience that sorrow. We are to become like God. Christ is perfect, like unto God. Christ knows the heartbreak of women. He experienced the heartbreak of women. If we are to come unto Christ and be like him, then how do we separate out Christ’s experience of femininity with invalidating the universality of the Atonement? Yes, he is the Bridegroom that comes for the Bride, but he is also the mother hen gathering her chickens. Maybe the divisions we put up between women and men, and the distinctions we make between them, are as historically contingent and socially constructed as racist pronouncements about denying blacks the priesthood that the church had to officially distance itself from and state that they had no basis in doctrine, despite having been preached by prophets of God for decades.

I don’t think the Ordain Women movement is necessarily about women wanting the priesthood, per se. I think it is about women wanting more opportunities to serve in the kingdom, to use talents that have been given them by God and that they have developed through hard work and effort. It so happens that the only way they see to do that as the church is currently constituted is through the priesthood. That is because the Relief Society has been systematically stripped of its independence, its finances, and its scope. Women used to anoint and bless other women in the early days of the church. They were independent, with their own finances and buildings and hierarchy. If you read the minutes of the early Relief Society meetings, they actually asked the brethren to leave so they could get down to business. There are times where I feel the modern corporate church is as far from the church that Joseph Smith established, as the churches that offered no comfort to Joseph were from the one that Christ established on the earth.

And so women ask for the priesthood. Not because they want to be equal to or greater than men, but because they want more opportunities to serve. They want more opportunities to help, to improve the programs of the church, to strengthen families, to lift up the weary hands that hang down. They are turning to the prophet, and saying, “Please. Please ask. We have faith that if you ask, you will receive. Please, let us know who we are as daughters of God, and what that means for mortality and beyond. Please, don’t let me be cut off from serving Him forever.”

 

I am fairly sure that I am going to Hell.

You know how I know this? Because I read the Ensign. And it wasn’t even the ‘rape culture’ endorsing line of “most women get the men they dressed for” article that’s pissing off so many women, and rightly so, because hello, women are raped in military uniforms and corsets and petticoats and the burka and when they’re still young enough for their clothes to be purchased in the little kids section, and sooner or later you have to stop saying ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘she was asking for it by dressing that way’ and admit that you’re excusing your own behavior and the behavior of a whole bunch of other people where we would justifiably put down a dog if he demonstrated that level of aggression. My dog understands no. My kid understands no. Your penis needs to learn to behave.  Please, can we just stop with this idea that women are responsible for the conduct of men? It’s insulting to all the good men that I know, and it excuses the behavior of the bad ones.

But that’s not the point of this rage. It’s the way we instill a specific set of feminine virtues by the narrative interpretations we impose on the very few women included with any detail in our scriptural accounts.

“From the rib of Adam, Eve was formed (see
Genesis 2:22; Moses 3:22; Abraham 5:16). . . .
The rib signifies neither dominion nor subser­
vience, but a lateral relationship as partners, to
work and to live, side by side.”

You know what, let’s change our reading of this. The rib is used to protect the internal organs of the body. The woman is necessary for life to be sustained. If you did not have a ribcage, you would probably die. So don’t piss of a group of women (ribs) because if you do, we will kill you. Just as logical an interpretation as the one given.

Of course, you have Sarai/Sarah whose entire existence boils down to her infertility and then ability to bear a son. Because what other purpose can a woman serve except to be sexual receptacles with no other purpose than to procreate and raise children. She couldn’t possibly have any other desire or role in her life.

And then Rebekah. Rebekah was moved by the Spirit to follow the servant of Isaac back to marry some dude she’d never met. Of course it was the Spirit who moved her, not the desire to get away from overbearing parents and the fact that every boy within a 25 tent radius had a face like a camel. And then when she finally sees the dude:

Rebekah veiled herself upon seeing
Isaac. This act, one writer observed, “was a sign
of her virtue, reverence, humility, and modesty
and showed respect for her future spouse.”
Such qualities indicated Rebekah’s “readiness
for a covenant marriage.” 2

I was thinking it indicated her thinking, “I’ve been traipsing across the desert on the back of this stupid camel for a month. I’m getting a bath and gonna wash my hair and fix my eyeliner before he gets a good look at me.” You know Rebekah could rock a cat-eye eyeliner.

And of course, what’s the big drama with Rebekah. Can’t have kids. You know what I’m thinking. Like father like son. I’m thinking the infertility isn’t the fault of the women. I’m thinking we’ve got some inherited low sperm count issues here.

And then

Jacob loved Rachel dearly, but she could
not have children for many years, a great trial
for her. Although Jacob had not first been
interested in Leah (her great trial), she was
able to bear him children. The sisters sought
Jacob’s love and attention through giving him
sons.

Leah’s biggest problem is she isn’t pretty enough for her husband to love her. Think about that. Jacob is an ass to Leah. Because she’s not pretty enough. And Rachel’s problem is that she can’t have kids. Again it comes down to the uterus, because how does Leah finally get Jacob to overlook her face? She starts popping out babies. Boy babies. Just think of how much hatred and anger and hurt could have been avoided if Jacob hadn’t been an ass to Leah, but treated her with love and respect and treated Rachel with the same amount of love, regardless of her infertility. But nope. Not gonna happen. Instead he manages to damage the relationship between two sisters. I swear I’m gonna write a novel called Leah and tell the story from her perspective.

And then we get to Deborah. Deborah, a prophetess, though of course we must quickly point out:

In her role as prophetess, Deborah
did not hold the priesthood or possess ecclesi­
astical keys but enjoyed the gift of prophecy in
a more general sense (see Revelation 19:10).4

How do you know she didn’t possess ecclesiastical keys or the priesthood? Women in the history of the modern church have had the power to annoint and to lay on hands. What makes it so impossible for her to have held some sort of keys?

She’s so powerful that the captain of the Israelite army refuses to go into battle unless she goes as well. I mean,  unless there was some hoochie coochie going on there, why would a general want her there? Possibly because she had some sort of ability? Maybe? Possibly? Seriously, just give my female eyes the slightest bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, a woman can do something else than just be a mother.

Now, I’m not saying that my interpretation of the Old Testament is accurate. I wrote those examples with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. But this is the thing. When you tell women:

All the purposes of the world . . . would be
brought to naught without woman—a keystone
in the priesthood arch of creation. . . .

and you also tell them

She was designed by Deity to co­
create and nurture life, that the great plan of
the Father might achieve fruition. Eve ‘was the
mother of all living’ (Moses 4:26).”

You essentialize them as mothers. And while mothers are awesome and wonderful and great and essential and I love being a mom, they are also one of many roles that women play. Yes, motherhood gets priority for a season, but a woman’s entire life is not spent actively mothering. But that’s what we’re told to prepare for. And that’s why infertility is so incredibly hard for women, especially women in the church, to deal with. It also leads to incredibly destructive behavior in women as their attention gets focused on competitive motherhood. And it leads to young women doubting the guidance of the Holy Spirit when they’re prompted to do things like go to graduate school or fulfill a different path than the traditionally followed one.

We also teach this message to men and boys. And what do they hear? Women are essentially for sex. That’s why they’re here. You need them for sex so you can procreate. That’s their purpose. Their only purpose. Sex and babies. Sex and babies. It’s no wonder when they look at a young woman, regardless of what she is or is not wearing, that they think sex. It’s what we’ve taught them to think about when they see a woman.

The fact that the article about women in the old testament leads right into the article about morality and women need to keep themselves covered so we don’t give men naughty thoughts is just symbolically resonant with the problems we have as a church discussing this issue. Maybe we should start thinking about not teaching our men (explicitly and subconsciously) that women are sex objects. Good moral after-marriage sex objects, but sex objects nonetheless.

(Yes, it’s a bit ranty. I know. I just get tired of ‘agency applies to everyone in the church except men in the presence of a mini-skirt.’)

Today

Today I pray for the mothers in Turkey, who have gone from holding their children in their arms to forming human barriers with those same arms; mothers joining together to protect their own children and the children of the fallen from their own government.

I pray for those fighting in Syria, who face suppression and sarin and certain death with courage and resolve.

I pray for those who are lonely and afraid, wherever they may be in this world. I pray for those who wake up each morning with the credible fear that they will not make it through the day.

I pray for the child soldiers and the child starving.

I pray for all those who work for a better tomorrow that they may be filled with hope and peace and the ability to keep the horrors at  bay as they dream.

I pray for the knowledge of what I can do to make a better tomorrow for all of those for whom I pray, and I pray for the ability to act in accordance with that knowledge.

Blessed are the peacemakers, Father. Let me be a maker of peace.

Today I am a golf ball

So the story goes that golf balls used to be smooth and round until golfers realized that their older ones, with the dents and the scratches actually went further. There’s a lot of physics involved in exactly why that is, but the point is that now golf balls are designed with dimples all over them to mimic the effect of being beat up.

When we’re having struggles and trials, it’s easy to focus on all the bumps and bruises you are accumulating. It’s difficult to think about the purpose for those trials, or to be grateful for them. I have several chronic illnesses and live with constant, sometimes debilitating pain. I’ve finally found a treatment that is helping, but I’ve been in pain every day since June of 1998. It’s hard to be grateful for that, especially when I see how it affects those around me, especially my husband and my child. But today I am grateful for my bumps and dimples, because it has helped me develop empathy and patience and to take advantage of the good times. Sometimes I think I focus too much on trying to smooth myself out and make myself perfect instead of appreciating that sometimes, the dents actually give you character.

The difficulty of dissent

Disagreeing with the prophet is hard. I mean, really really hard. I don’t know if you understand how difficult it is to disagree with the prophet when you’ve been born and raised in the church, served a mission, sealed in the temple, had a child die and know that your hope of seeing them again is tied to the covenants you’ve made in the temple, and live in the i-15 corridor so your entire culture as well as religion is Mormon, unless you’ve been there yourself.

I mean, I’m doing something I have been taught my entire life not to do. I can quote you scripture and verse on the dangers of steadying the ark, and whether by the voice of me or of my servants it is the same and I have a testimony of the brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators. And yet.

Heavenly Father told me to go to graduate school. He told me to go to the specific university I went to and to have the educational opportunities I had. And He arranged for me to have experiences that prepared me specifically to teach at BYU-I. I was interviewed by general authorities and approved by the Church Education board, which includes the First Presidency. And I held these same opinions when I taught at BYU-I as I do now.

Would I have written these blog posts if I had still been employed by the church? No, because I am disagreeing with official church policy, and I wouldn’t feel like I could do that as an employee of a church organization. So, I’m freer now. The interesting thing is that my time at BYU-I taught me a lot about church history and how the history of the church is very different in substantial ways than what is taught in Church History. It taught me a lot about how decisions are made in the church, how attitudes shift over time, and how revelations are received. If anything, my time at BYU-I made it easier to disagree with the church. And when I see the church have to disavow statements made by its own apostles on politically sensitive issues in the past, I wonder how much of what we are getting today will end up being disavowed in fifty years.

But Sister Arnell, I can hear you say, The Proclamation wasn’t just some off the cuff remark. It has the signature of all of the apostles and the First Presidency. And you’re right. It does.

There’s lots of  ways I could deal with that argument. That the Proclamation has never been put forth for a confirming vote to the members of the church to be accepted as doctrine, and therefore is not binding. That it was a politically motivated statement put forth to meet an evidentiary burden for the church to be able to file an amicus brief in the Hawaii gay marriage case (Baehr v. Milke) that was undergoing trial at the time. That the line about “other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation” may be a whole lot broader than we are willing to give it credit for.

But no. I have to be honest. I don’t know how to reconcile the Family Proclamation with what I have felt the Spirit tell me to be true. And that is that the government shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of gender when it comes to recognizing the validity of marriages as long as there are benefits attached to being married. I am not saying that churches should be required to perform weddings. I am solely talking about government recognition.

But I know that Heavenly Father spent a decade teaching me how to read law decisions, question authority, and be skeptical of claims to power. I served under good zone leaders and bad on my mission. I obeyed them both the same. I served under two mission presidents and two temple visitor center presidents, all of which had very different leadership styles, all of whom were good men. I’ve had multiple bishops. I’ve seen calls made by inspiration and calls made my desperation. I know that while the church is lead by men of God, they are also men who have been raised in specific historical and cultural contexts. And really, all I know is what Heavenly Father has told me through the power of the Holy Ghost. And I have no idea why it is so different from what the brethren are teaching. And it worries me. And it scares me. But I can’t deny what I know.

Does that mean I expect all members to believe the same way I do? No, absolutely not. Does that mean I think I am right and they are wrong? No. It means that right now I am in a place where my understanding is different. And most humans don’t do to well with different. So that causes problems some time. And when you get into “my truth is different from your truth” then that sounds like a bunch of post-modern nonsense.

But right now my truth seems to be different from the truth held by most members of my faith. There isn’t an easy answer to that dilemma. So I’m doing what I can to keep asking for knowledge. One of the most commonly repeated commands in the scriptures is to ask, and we’re told that if we do, we shall receive. So I keep asking. I keep praying to Heavenly Father to let me know if I’ve been misguided, or if I’m doing this out of some sort of need to be different or special or noticed. I keep checking myself to make sure this isn’t pride. And I keep asking for further knowledge.

Maybe I’m wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe I’m ahead of the curve. That would be first time. But right now I’m okay with where I am with God. That’s the only thing that gives me the courage to disagree with his servants.

And hopefully, we can continue to treat all people, regardless of political opinion, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation with nothing but love as this discussion continues, both here and in our homes, workplaces, and places of worship.

With love always.

Just some clarification

I used to teach at BYU-Idaho. I no longer do. I retired, if that’s the word for a 37 year old, for two reasons. One, I developed fibromyalgia and could not cope with the demands of a full time career with the serious chronic pain that I was dealing with in a way that was fair to my family or my job. 

Second, Heavenly Father told me it was time to come home and homeschool my son, who would be entering into kindergarten. Teaching him to read has been one of the highlights of my career.

Nothing I say should be taken to be the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Brigham Young University-Idaho or any other church affiliated institution. These are just my thoughts about trying to figure out how to live by the Spirit and be motivated by love as a member of this church.

I love you all.

What about the effects on society if gays are allowed to marry?

In which I will address all the reasons I have heard on why we, as a society, should not allow gay people to marry.

1. Oh noes, think of the children!

I do think of the children. I think of all the children in foster care who can’t get into long-term placements because there aren’t enough straight people willing to provide long-term families. I think of the children in foster care who can’t get adopted because gay couples aren’t allowed to adopt. I think of the gay children who grow up knowing that they will never be allowed to get married, that society thinks their love is less worthy because of something they have no control over. I think about how the rates of teen suicide are higher (some estimates place it at five times higher) among LBGTQ teenagers than among straight teenagers. I think of all the children who are bullied at school. I think of Matthew Shepherd who was born the same year as I was, who also studied political science, who was tied to a fence rail and beaten with a pistol butt and left to die. I think of Jaden Bell, and Josh Pacheco, and Tyler Clementi and Seth Walsh and Raymond Chase and all the other nameless children who died rather than continue facing the society we have right now. I think of the children who get kicked out of their house because they tell their parents they are gay so they end up living on the street. So yes, I am thinking of the children.

2. Oh noes, think of the religious freedom.

There is a huge difference between allowing states to allow gay marriage and requiring churches to perform marriages. But what about that case back east where the church had to allow the gays to get married? The church in question had a public hall that they rented out to members of the community for all sorts of public events. The church was told that refusing to serve gays in a business setting was discriminatory. The church was not required to actually perform the wedding, just to allow all members of the community to rent the space in question, which was not a church.

But what if they picket our churches for not performing marriages? Have you not been to General Conference? We get picketed all the time already. That’s because other people have first amendment rights too, not just the religious. Guess what? BYU football games got picketed back when we didn’t allow blacks to have the priesthood. Entire universities refused to compete against them. Did that cause the government to force us to give blacks the priesthood? Not according to the brethren.

I am fully in favor of allowing gays to get married but not requiring churches to marry them if they don’t want to. I think that’s kind of the point of living in a pluralistic society.

3. Oh noes, think of the schools.

Will we require our teachers to teach that gay marriage is okay? I don’t remember ever learning that straight marriage was okay in school, but do you mean that we’re not going to fire teachers for including literature in which there are gay people who are not scorned and mocked and bullied? Then, okay, I’m good with that. Are we going to include literature that has single parents, or kids living with their grandparents, or kids living in foster care, I’m good with that too. Are we going to show that stable families are good for society, regardless of their makeup? I think that’s a good plan. I’m good with children being exposed to the realities that match their own life rather than a preapproved list of Dick and Jane style homogeneity. I also think everyone should read The Great Gatsby and O! Pioneers, so take my curricular choices with a grain of salt.

4. Oh noes, think of the sex education!

People are going to have problems with sex education regardless of what’s being taught. So, biologically, reproduction should be covered in science class. Diagrams, etc. Sex education should teach you when it’s okay to have sex (i.e. when both partners are willing participants and explicit consent has been obtained.) It should teach you about the emotional complexities of being sexually active. It should teach you how not to get pregnant and how not to obtain a sexually transmitted disease. So, like I learned how to put on a condom in sex ed. And I think I looked at photos of diseased parts. And that sexually transmitted diseases were really easy to catch.

I don’t think I ever got educated about how to have sex. So for teaching gay sex in class, I’m not really sure what that means. Because straight people have oral sex and anal sex as well as gay people, so sex is sex to me. I mean, I think the world would be a lot happier if everyone understood the importance of lube, how to perform oral sex, and the necessity of clitoral stimulation in achieving the female orgasm. But I don’t remember any of that getting discussed in sex ed. So, maybe some of y’all went to schools where they discussed varying positions, but my town freaked out when they found out that we got shown a condom on a banana, so that’s where I’m coming from here.

5. Oh noes, we don’t have the data!

We don’t have enough data to know what will happen, therefore we can’t allow it to happen. This is a basic fallacy called “argument from ignorance.” You just flunked Introduction to Logic. Do not pass go. Do not collect your college diploma.

6. It’s always been that way/Judeo-Christian/Old Testament

Slavery had always been that way. Domestic violence had always been that way. Rape had always been that way. The Old Testament is a crazy place to draw your evidence from because unless you want to make your wife sit in a tent one week out of the month, never eat crab, grow a beard and never trim its corners, give up bacon and never wear a cotton-poly blend again, you need to be careful about arguing from the Old Testament. Especially since the OT has all sorts of whacked out family groupings in it that would appall most Christians today. I mean, if you believe in a literal Adam and Eve, their children were having sex with each other, so yeah. We also have penicillin, the internet and flush toilets, so I’m good with progress. We’ve also stopped lobotomizing those with mental illnesses. And given up monarchies. So, you know, change is sometimes good.

7. Oh noes, dog sex/marriage!

To borrow from Bill Maher, which is rare for me, women have been voting for almost a century now and we haven’t seen any hamsters in the voting booths.

Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg can tell the difference between a human being and an animal.

 

Why I am in favor of marriage equality

I have been privileged to attend several weddings of people I love. Many of these weddings have been in the temple. Some have not. I’d like to talk about one particular wedding today.

Many years ago, I think it was twelve, my brother Jon met the love of his life. His name was Todd. They have been together ever since. In the intervening years they have supported each other through job insecurity, major health problems, parenting children, home remodeling projects and dealing with each other’s families. They were married in all but the word.

Jon and Todd happen to live in California. In the scant few months that marriage was legal in that state, they got married. They had been together close to a decade at that point. They held their wedding at a friend’s house, and in the beautiful sunshine of a Southern California afternoon, they pledged to each other the commitments that they had already been living. And I felt the Spirit in my heart, confirming to me the sanctity and holiness of what they were doing.

My experience witnessing the wedding of these two men that I love was no different from witnessing a sealing in the temple. Their love is as welcomed and recognized by God as the love between a man and a woman.

Does this make me outside the LDS mainstream? Yes. Does this make me less of a Mormon? Culturally, yes. Doctrinally – probably, but hopefully not for long. I don’t know what the consequences are for saying this out loud, but it would be dishonest not to say it.

With my educational background, I can make a legal argument. Conservative judges can strike DOMA down as Congressional overreach easier than liberals will be able to strike it down with the equal protection clause. You can make gender arguments that it is discriminatory to let a man marry a woman, but not a woman marry a woman. Marriage is a commitment between two people. I know people want to say it should be between two people and God, but we let atheists get married in this country, so legally, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

But legal arguments aside – though I know how vitally important they are going to be in the next few days – what the issue comes down to for me is love. I love my brother. I recognize him as a child of God, and I respect him and the choices he makes for his life. He loves Todd. It’s evident that Todd loves him. They take care of each other and support each other and love each other. They are married. It’s just mean to say, “Nope, your love is worth less than the love of heterosexual couples.”

God loves Jon and Todd. I love them too. Let’s make their life and their marriage a little bit easier. Let’s make their marriage equal.

Commenting policy

To quote Wil Wheaton: Don’t be a dick.

You can disagree with other people on this blog. That means me and the other commenters. If you are rude, if you deny the reality of others’ experiences, if you are more intent on harm than help, in destruction than dialog, I will delete your comment. If I had to do this more than once, you will be banned. There are real people attached to these names, and this will be a safe space for them

Tired

I am tired down to my bones. Tired of trying to explain why I am tired. Tired of fighting all the little things that add up to a mountain and a constant uphill trudge.

This Steubenville rape case is just the last straw. If you haven’t heard the words “rape culture” by now, you must have been ignoring the whole thing, which I probably should have done, but I just couldn’t.

I’m going to soapbox here for a minute.

Rape culture is a society giving women a list of do’s and don’t’s that boil down to “make sure he rapes the other girl.”

Rape culture is a society where women are scared to go out by themselves at night.

Can we think about that for a minute? We’ve created a society where women are scared to be by themselves. Isn’t that horrifying? The ability to be alone, to be yourself, to choose to do whatever you want is limited because of fear.

I’m scared to go camping by myself. Not because of the wild animals, but because of the wild humans who are more terrifying than any bear or cougar. They will just maul you to death and then eat your corpse. It will hurt for a bit, but it will be over quickly, especially if the cougar manages to get the right bite on the back of your skull to sever the spinal column.

No, it’s the humans that do the real damage. It’s the humans that leave scars that last a lifetime. It’s the humans who play with your body and kill your soul. It’s the humans who think they have a right to your body because you chose to walk by yourself home from the library after studying for three hours for that physiology final you have tomorrow. Or because you wore your hair in a ponytail so obviously you want someone to grab you by it and throw you to the ground. Or because you walked by a construction site. Or a dorm. Or down the street in your neighborhood.

It’s the humans who say, “hey, she was drunk.” Who blame a girl, not even a woman, for “bad judgment” because getting intoxicated obviously causes boys to forcibly penetrate you repeatedly, take pictures of it, send them to their friends, laughing about what you did. It’s the humans who excuse this behavior because boys will be boys, and skill at sports washes away any “mistakes.” And then sentences you to less time in prison than you would get for pirating a DVD or possessing cocaine. What does that tell the victim? You are less important to society than a bootleg of Gigli. 

Rape is not a mistake. You don’t just fall over and end up with your penis in someone’s vagina or anus. You don’t accidentally rape someone. Rape takes intent. It’s an act of power over someone who you consider less than, non-human, the other. It’s not about sex and boys are horny and it just happens. It’s about perpetrators not thinking their victim is a person.

Stop teaching “boys are boys.” I have a son. He’s a total boy. But he’s not an asshole. Boys don’t have to be assholes. You have to teach them to be assholes. And really, when advertisements feature women selling everything, it creates a culture where the women are just objects that are for sale. The female body is something to be consumed, that is designed to be looked at, that exists to be looked at.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of a culture that thinks it is okay for you to come talk to me on the subway, and when I am not interested, I’m automatically a bitch or a lesbian. You know what? You don’t have a right to my time or attention any more than you have a right to my body. I do not exist for your ends. I am an end in and of myself and you do not own me. So if I choose to spend time with you, consider yourself lucky, and if I don’t want to spend time with you, that’s not my problem, because I do not have responsibilities to you other than to respect you as a person. And I’ll do that.

And if you bitch to your friends about how the girls never like the nice guy, because they are really selfish shallow status-obsessed bitches who always friendzone you, then you’re not really a nice guy, you’re a misogynist in nice guy clothing.* And if you think for one instant that anything a woman does entitles you to have sex with her other than her explicit consent, you are wrong. Because if you do, then I am going to walk up to you and hit you with a baseball bat. Because you didn’t say no, so that means you are consenting to it.

Unconscious means no.

Wearing a mini skirt means no.

Walking by herself means no.

Hair in a ponytail. NO.

Hair not in a ponytail. NO.

She’s had sex with you before. NO.

She’s had sex with your friends. NO.

She’s never had sex. NO.

She flirted with you. NO.

She drank alcohol. NO.

She did drugs. NO.

I mean, really. You learned no when you were a two year old. How difficult is it to get this through your mind, society? The default of “can I have sex with this woman or man” is no. NO NO NO. Just stop it.

And yes, I know people will say, that focusing on changing the behavior of the rapist is unrealistic. You know what? I don’t care. According to RAINN, almost 2/3rds and 38% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. You know what that means? You aren’t safe with your friends. We’ve created a culture that means most people are not safe ever. And nothing about the way I dress is going to change that. So stop telling me that I should spend my life expecting to be raped, because that is wrong. You create that culture by saying it. And then excusing it by blaming the victim. And then creating a culture that is so misogynistic about the treatment of victims that only 3% of rapists actually spend any time in prison.

Women are people. Men are people. Stop raping people.

And, because I’m going to assume that the people reading this are the ones who wouldn’t rape someone, though statistically, who knows, I have some advice for you too.

Stop rape culture. Stop laughing at jokes that objectify and sexualize women. Stop consuming media that sexualizes women. Stop making excuses for men being assholes. Name and shame, people. Name the behavior when you see it. Point out how this perpetuates a culture that promotes a society that makes people into victims, and victims into the cause instead of the effect. I’ve read enough social construction IR theory to know that this works if people are committed to making a change. So put it into action.

Stop rape. Stop rape culture.

 

*I read this argument somewhere and can’t find it now, so I’m just going to say that it is not mine and if I can find it later, I’ll come back and link it.
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