Are Powerful Women at a Disadvantage?

Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Maureen Dowd’s op-ed piece, “Men Just Want Mommy” published in yesterday’s New York Times is getting a lot of attention. I’ve had a half a dozen friends email it to me with notes attached at the bottom that vary from outrage to despair.

Ms. Dowd says she is noticing a trend that successful men become involved with young women whose job it is to take care of them in some way. This trend is echoed in the plot lines of recent films in which men think the ideal woman is their secretary, flight attendant or maid, rather than the female partner in the firm. The question is whether these narratives reflect reality. Ms. Dowd writes, “art is imitating life, turning women who seek equality into selfish narcissists and objects of rejection, rather than affection.”

A recent study by Dr. Stephanie Brown at the University of Michigan seems to provide some empirical support for such a claim. Dr. Brown summarized her findings as follows, “powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer to marry less-accomplished women.” The reason given for this is “evolutionary pressures on males to take steps to minimize the risk of raising offspring that are not their own.” According to Dr. Brown, men believe that women who are highly educated and professionally successful are more likely to have extra-marital affairs.

Now, the sample size in this particular study is extremely small (120 male undergraduates) and ultimately inconclusive, in my opinion. But, the study’s results are supported by a second study at four British universities which also suggests that intelligent men with challenging jobs prefer “old-fashioned wives, like their mums” instead of women who are their equals. The British study indicated that high I.Q. decreases a woman’s chance for marriage by as much as 40% for every 16 point rise, while high I.Q. increases marriage prospects for men.

Ms. Dowd’s piece conflates several issues, which I think are quite distinct: intelligence, professional success, and caretaking. It is obviously problematic to equate a lack of professional ambition with minimal intelligence or to judge a successul career as the disinclination to make a home and nurture. Still, the basic conclusion is that a man would rather marry a subordinate. Where do Mormon men come down on this? Of course, we know that LDS women are counseled not to postpone marriage or childbearing and to stay home with their children once they come, so it is perhaps rare that single LDS women are in the law firm, board room, or science labs in the first place. But, to the extent that they are, or could be, what do Mormon men think? How do you actually feel about dating and marrying your intellectual or professional equals? Perhaps all of you happily married men out there believe that you and your spouse are equally yoked where native intelligence is concerned.

But, what if your wife were better educated than you?

What if your wife consistently made more money than you or had a more prestigious position than you?

When you were dating (or if you still are) were (are) you attracted to women who had (have) ambitious professional goals?

Is intellectual parity less threatening than professional parity? If so, why?

The study suggests that “expressions of vulnerablity enhance female attractiveness.” Is this more true, less true or not true for Mormon men as a group?

368 comments for “Are Powerful Women at a Disadvantage?

  1. First, a quibble: I don’t know that LDS women have been counseled to begin immediate childbearing after marriage–at least, not in the last thirty years. Is that counsel binding on a generation that hasn’t heard it over the pulpit in their lifetimes? I don’t know.

    Second, I think the dynamic *may* be different for LDS couples simply because an RM husband and non-RM wife usually means that, at marriage, she has more education than he does. (This was the case for my husband and I: he finishing a BA days before the wedding, me already in grad school.) Of course, the typical thing is for him to continue his ed. after marriage but for her to quit. Does this still happen with LDS couples, or are newly married women finishing their degrees because of Pres. Hinckley’s counsel to get all the education that they can? I don’t know.

    I’m not sure about this evolutionary view of wanting to ensure one’s offspring, I think it is a little more likely that men want a woman more dedicated to home and family. Now if only we could convince women to want the same thing in a man . . .

  2. I like to think that I would be fine with being married to a woman with more education. But then, it’s a hypothetical world for me, since I have more education than my wife does. I do tend to think, now, that educated women are often very interesting and attractive. But I didn’t really date any educated women when I was actually dating. (Small sample size, though — I seriously dated a total of two women). (And I didn’t really _know_ any educated women who would be interested in dating an RM with one-and-a-half years of college under his belt and no real idea what he was going to do with his life).

    I do think that native intelligence is pretty important too. I always was attracted to the “smart girls” in high school (though usually too scared to ever ask them out). My wife was one of the smart girls from her class, and it’s clear. She doesn’t have a degree — in part because she married young — but not because she’s not smart. Being married to someone who wasn’t smart would drive me nuts.

    I do know of LDS couples where the husband cannot handle the fact that the wife is smarter. I find that kind of funny, as an outside observer. I don’t think it’s particularly funny for the wife.

  3. Remember the Bell Curve book of a few years ago? In that copiously footnoted book the author pointed out that the IQs of spouses is usually closer than the IQs of siblings.

  4. I know its just me, but I’m immediately skeptical of a study, let alone an op-ed piece, premised on human beings as motivated by evoluationary motives.

  5. I think Mormons like smart women, but do not tolerate ambitious ones. This seems true both at the personal level (dating) and at the institutional level. (The RS President is often very smart, but is more rarely a very assertive woman.)

  6. All I can say is that my wife is smart and ambitious. She’s currently doing interviews for pediatric residency programs and I’m very proud of her. I’m just hoping I can get my master’s degree done before its time for us to move. :)

    I remember in my mission overhearing some male missionaries saying that they would never consider marrying a returned missionary woman because they were too independently minded. I didn’t say anything but I thought that was pretty sad. Why would someone want a less capable person as a mate? But I’m biased. My mom is a returned missionary who used to routinely mock the book “Fascinating Womanhood.” So I grew up with the idea that women should be family-oriented but also strong, educated, opiniated and smart.

    I’m guessing that the ideal image of womanhood in the LDS Church is changing and will continue to change. The other day I was listening to President Hinckley MP3s and I heard a talk he gave to the young women of the church. He counseled them to get every bit of education they could. I didn’t hear him add any caveats or reservations after making that statement. In years to come we’ll probably see the fruits of that. Hopefully the men of the Church can adjust their perspectives accordingly and fully appreciate women who are educated and capable professionals.

  7. We watched the old Manchurian Candidate last night, which gives some perspective on Miss Dowd’s concerns. We men are all worried that if we marry a smart, powerful, ambitious woman, she may also by a communist secret agent, and no one wants to end up with a bullet through the forehead like that stupid Senator Iselin. By the way, I am I the only one who can easily picture Maureen Dowd in the Angela Lansbury role?

  8. My wife has more degrees than I do. She had a BS when we were married, and went on to graduate school after I finished my BA. Her GPA was always much higher than mine. When she worked full-time, she made more money than I did. It didn’t/doesn’t bother me at all. One of the reasons that I was attracted to her in the first place was her intelligence and ambition. I wanted to (and did!) marry someone who could be my intellectual equal. Now my wife stays at home full-time with the kids, but I would trade places with her in a heartbeat, if she wanted to. She doesn’t. She’d rather stay at home now. We don’t see her staying at home as some kind of “giving up”, but instead see it as she can do a better job raising our kids than a babysitter could.

  9. I agree with Kristine, and comment a bit further.

    I think a strong intellect is generally considered a positive thing. However, smart, successful men typically get intellectual stimulation from their work (either the work itself or the interaction with colleagues or both), and can also find it elsewhere (friends, extended family, and—blogging!). A woman’s intellectual acuity is a plus, but it’s probably not the top one or two things he wants specifically in a _wife_.

    I think Kristine is right that ambition is the real issue. Men may worry that their wife’s independent ambition will either (1) compromise the quality of care his children receive from surrogate caregivers, and/or (2) interfere with his ambitions by requiring him to contribute to child care. It’s likely there’s some correlation between intellectual ability and ambition, and this might be strong enough to raise a red flag in some men’s minds when they encounter a very smart woman.

    This hypothesis, focusing as it does on children, would predict that if a man is not interested in children from a particular woman he will be more tolerant of her ambitions. But in this case he will also be less likely to want to marry her, being content with her being a girlfriend or lover, unless perhaps he is assured that she does not want children either. A man who _does_ want children might still be willing to marry an ambitious woman if he can be convinced that the children can be well cared for without strong participation on his part.

    However, because unmarried relationships, elective childlessness, and surrogate care (regardless of quality) are all frowned upon in Mormon culture, Ms. Dowd’s observations probably apply with greater force to Mormons than to the population at large—Mormon affinity for learning notwithstanding. A devout Mormon man—even one who prizes learning and intellectual ability, in himself and others—will tend to seek marriage and family on his terms at a relatively young age, and will be willing to accept a merely good (but less-than-stellar) intellect to get it.

  10. One might think that I, having completed a PhD, would be one of the few (if they are few) LDS women who have as much or more education as their husbands… but no, I married an MD/PhD, so I’m still the lesser educated! But John was always extremely supportive of my choices–more than supportive, in fact, and on more than a few occasions when I wanted to quit he asked me to continue. I teased him that he just wanted a trophy wife–but for him a trophy wife had a big degree instead of big… well, you know.

    As for dating experiences with LDS men… despite my occasional complaints that I did not date much at BYU, the truth is that I dated almost as much as I wanted to. There *were* men who were interested in smart and challenging women–they might have been a minority, but probably no smaller a minority than women who were interested in smart and challenging men (which is distinct from those who were interested in men who had a large earning potential). I did observe a certain kind of LDS man (and this is probably true of non-LDS men as well)–extremely smart, accustomed from an early age to excelling, very high achiever, very ambitious–who was not interested in dating or marrying his intellectual equal, probably because he did not believe that his intellectual equal, male or female, existed. I personally did not observe this kind of LDS woman; it is my experience and observation that smart LDS women nearly universally wanted to marry a smart LDS man–though there were of course those who insisted on smart *and* handsome!

    I think Kristine puts it very well when she says that intelligence but not ambition is tolerated in LDS women–and her observation stings a little, since I often find myself assuring others that “I am not ambitious,” possibly in order to forestall assumptions about what “kind” of person I am. The facts of my life might in fact suggest that I am ambitious.

    A few more general comments. I’m not sure Ms. Dowd’s observations, correct or in-, have much bearing on LDS trends, since the LDS marriage market is active so early in adult life. Most Mormons marry before either men *or* women have the chance to become “successful”–usually in college or shortly thereafter. For those who remain unmarried later, the dynamic Dowd describes may well emerge, but I don’t think it widespread. I mildly object to the entire premise of Dowd’s argument, since it seems to allow choice and agency only to men–that is, successful women don’t marry because men don’t want to marry them. I think it’s just as likely that successful women do not marry because they don’t need to, financially, and thus they have less incentive to settle for imperfect matches. (And settle down, all, I’m not suggesting that all women who are not financially independent merely “settled” when they married.)

    Finally, I think very damaging questions have weakened the entire enterprise of evolutional psychology–and to a lesser extent, sociobiology–not because I reject evolution, as lyle does, but because the discipline necessarily relies on speculation that cannot be proven or falsified and yet claims to draw “scientific” conclusions about contemporary social life. (See the work of Steven Rose and others on this.)

  11. I’m just going to throw this out there. I’ve never been a huge fan of Maureen Dowd’s columns. She often mistake her biases and opinions for facts and the assumptions her writing seems to be based on are usually a bit off. I probably should read more of her columns to be entirely sure — but my impression is that she rarely makes an appreciable effort to be objective, non-partisan or provide good facts to back up her assertions. I know she’s won very prestigious awards for her past work but I can’t really see why. I guess I’m going to have to make a real effort to read more about her and what she’s accomplished.

    This column leaves me wondering about information she doesn’t provide. She begins by simply stating that a “very beautiful actress” who is 46-years-old complains that she isn’t married. Has this woman never been married? The article doesn’t say. Yet this actress’s complaint is the springboard for the article.

    Also, it seems to me the study she mentions has its problems. Determining whether men prefer to date/marry a woman who is a supervisor, peer or subordinate seems problematic from the start (not entirely illegitimate … but problematic). These days there is at least mild discouragement from dating someone you work with directly. The discouragement becomes especially strong if it involves a boss/employee relationship.

    This doesn’t entirely explain away the possibility that men prefer to date subordinates rather than their bosses. But I wonder what images men associate with subordinates and bosses? Most of my female bosses/supervisors have been substantially older, married, had kids, etc. It’s rarely been feasible for me to even consider one of them as a date. So the question immediately conjures up images of incompatibility. It seems to me that using that type of a study to back up assumptions about men is a little far-fetched. It might be more useful to ask men if they’d prefer to date a woman who worked as a professor, a medical doctor, an architect, a secretary, a schoolteacher, etc. to see what men have to say about it.

    Maybe my experience is unique in this area. Have any of the males here at T&S had a long-term relationship with a supervisor or boss?

  12. In my BYU experience, it seemed that many males felt comfortable in dating relationships in which they at least had something “up” on the women. For example, a smart guy might feel comfortable dating an equally smart girl as long as she had a less-prestigious professional path, like teaching. Or, as has been mentioned, the male RMs, and I believe it is quite a community, who would only date girls not destined for missions or RM themselves (can’t you remember those smug comments in BYU Sunday School from the RMs about “the mysteries of the temple”? A comment aimed at all below)–they would always have mission experiences to wax nostalgic about and remind their wives of their greater calling. Age, of course, an old standard. I cannot imagine being 27 and seriously interested in a 19-year-old, but it happens so often at BYU, and elsewhere. I don’t know how men explain that–it seems clear that a major age-difference is another form of superiority, of experience, if nothing else. You get the idea. And of course there are many many exceptions–virtually any male in the education department, for example.

    We have already discussed that men do not seem bothered by dating someone more attractive than themselves. I do not know if finances factor in to dating in college–everyone seems fairly equally poor.

    And while we know of successful women who choose not to marry, I suspect we all know accomplished LDS woman who are not married, but not by choice. Again, it seems that their LDS male peers, as often as not, date much younger, less accomplished women. Why?

  13. Rosalynde: I did observe a certain kind of LDS man…not interested in dating or marrying his intellectual equal, probably because he did not believe that his intellectual equal, male or female, existed.

    Surely such pride could not exist at BYU!

    It’s the same with men as it is with the women you mentioned in your next sentence. The trouble is not finding an intellectual equal/superior, but finding one that also has the looks to make you momentarily forget that you care whether she’s an intellectual equal/superior.

    But even when you find that type of person, you come up against the real problem: such rare finds tend not to feel the same about you. ;)

    Rosalynde: I often find myself assuring others that “I am not ambitious,” possibly in order to forestall assumptions about what “kind” of person I am.

    Is “ambitious” code for “unwilling to be a stay-at-home-mom” in this context? I guess that’s how I was using it in my post above.

  14. I wonder if the opposite concept is also true. I know a very beautiful woman, who is kind and gentle and sweet and faithful…but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. I wonder if someone like her would also not be considered good marriage material? She hasn’t made a lot of her independent life, and I think in a different time, it would have been an reasonable expectation that she would find a good man to take care of her, and she would take care of him. Back in the day, an intelligent, successful, ambitious man might have been happy for a wife like her. I think today’s intelligent, successful, ambitious man wants something more: an intelligent, successful, ambitious and beautiful woman who will give it all up for him.

  15. I agree with those who have questioned the the University of Michigan study as well as Ms. Dowd’s commentary on it. The study in my opnion, is deeply flawed and Ms. Dowd’s conjectures are mostly drawn from anecdote and popular culture.

    Still, it is perhaps noteworthy that of the students in my high school AP English class four of my closest female friends remain unmarried. We’re thirty now. One of them is a Ph.D. in English, one has a Master’s degree in Literature, one is a professional dancer and the other is a physical therapist. All of my male friends from high school are married, but most of them married younger women with little or no professional ambition.

    Obviously, this is just the situation of one class in one high school, but I wonder if the phenomenon of sharp women staying single is more exaggerated in Utah?

    Of course, intelligent and professionally ambitious women may stay single because they choose to. I have several friends who turned down proposals when they were very young because they had other things to do—other things they were thinking about when they were twenty. (Of course, this is not to say that women who marry young don’t have other things they want to do too).

    I myself dated a lot at BYU—-in fact, much more after my mission than before. I found that the men at the Y respected my intelligence but were often troubled by the seriousness with which I took my career plans. For this reason and others I have also turned down proposals.

    The Summer before last when I was back at the Y doing some research I attended a single’s ward in the area. On my first Sunday one of the men in the ward asked me what I was doing out East. I told him that I was getting my Ph.D. and he responded, “that’s great, but surely you would quit all of that if you found the right man.” When I explained that I would never consider quitting his comeback was, “Oh, you’re one of THOSE kinds of girls” and physically backed away from me. This example is fairly representative of conversations I’ve had with many LDS men.

    Some LDS men do like the fact that I am educated and some even like the fact that I take my professional advancement seriously. But, in my experience most LDS men balk at the idea of actually sharing childraising responsibilites in any substantial way. They are happy to “support” you in word, but not if it means significant inconvenience or real sacrifice.

    Happily, there are exceptions to everything I’ve just said. In fact, I think I’ve dated some of the best men in the Church.

  16. I read two studies about this phenomenon several years ago (sorry, don’t remember where) that found that men were reluctant to marry women more successful or intelligent than they were, but also that women were reluctant to marry men less successful or intelligent than themselves. In other words, both genders preferred that the wife be equal or subordinate.

  17. Huh. When I was at BYU, I was just trying to find girls to date who wouldn’t get physically ill at the sight of me; intelligence and ambition vel non didn’t really enter into the calculus. (grin)

  18. I know a sweet woman who is like Ann describes, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and she married a 45 year old bachelor who should have gotten on his knees every day to thank God for sending him someone so devoted to his happiness. She is like something from out of the 50s, with every action focused on meeting his needs. Maybe she smothered him with her attention. I don’t know. But he’s been torturing her, and his main reason appears to be that he is much smarter than she is. Everything she does is wrong, her inability to comprehend his interest in computers he actually mocks, and it is so painful to see how much he disrespects her.

  19. Melissa, your experience is instructive–but I wonder whether you may not be the exception rather than the rule among single, accomplished women. You seem to assume that accomplished single women are single because they are accomplished, but I wonder if many of them aren’t accomplished because they’re single. That is, marriage brings a foreclosure of many professional possibilities for women–not only is their mobility constrained by their husband’s career (as I have allowed mine to be both out of personal preference and out of submission to the Proclamation roles), but their time and availability nearly evaporates with the arrival of children. I would be significantly more “accomplished” professionally if I weren’t married–I would have attended a more prestigious graduate school, I would have published far more in graduate school, and I would have a tenure-track position now.

    As I said before, most LDS–men and women–marry before either partner is “successful,” and the social roles that develop afterward are the effect, not the cause, of marriage arrangements.

  20. Matt, your statistics sound about right, but I think your analysis is all wet. I can think of a number of reasons why a woman would prefer to marry a man who has greater earning potential than she does, and none of them include a perference for subordination.

  21. Rosalynde, one way the studies accounted for the inference you’re making (that women want a smarter and more successful husband for the same reasons they’d want a husband who’s more loyal, fit, personable, witty and attractive than they are) was by looking for trends among married couples. They found that both husbands and wives were significantly more likely to report marital dissatisfaction in cases where the wife had an IQ “X” points above her husband, but not in cases where the husband had the “X” higher IQ. (I don’t remember the value of “X.”) The authors’ conclusion was that both men and women feel less comfortable in relationships where the woman is smarter.

    My guess is that the same is true for height and weight — I’ll bet that most men and most women prefer that the woman be physically “subordinate” in the relationship.

  22. Well, when you put “subordinate” in scare quotes, your interpretation goes down more easily, Matt. If by “subordinate” you mean merely a difference in annual income or IQ, the conclusion does not surprise me.

  23. Yea, I only used the word “subordinate” in the first instance because it was the word Melissa used to describe the alleged preferences of men: “Still, the basic conclusion is that a man would rather marry a subordinate.” My intention was to point out that studies show that men and women prefer the man to be smarter. And, I assume, that he be heavier and taller and faster and stronger. And probably the hairier of the two, too!

  24. Ok, 24 comments and no one else has said it, so I’ll bite:

    Maureen Dowd is famously unmarried (to borrow a phrase from the Shari Dew threads). She turned 53 on January 14th. She comes from a family of conservative Republicans. She is considered by many to be intelligent, powerful, and accomplished professionally. She is not hideously unattractive (can’t find the Rolling Stone picture from last year — anyone?)

    Is she talking to her mom in this column?

  25. Matt, I’m not easily offended for a word, and I hope you will not be, either, when I correct you: *most* men and women prefer the *woman not to be smarter*. That’s different than “men and women prefer the man to be smarter.”

  26. No offense taken, Rosalynde. I was again simply borrowing Melissa’s language, “the basic conclusion is that a man would rather marry a subordinate,” and using “men and women” to mean the average man or woman, not every man and woman.

    Bryce, I think there are good reasons why it was MoDo who wrote this column, and why she focused on the disadvantages of women who have IQs, and not heights, that measure two standard deviations above the male average.

  27. Rosalynde,

    Your points are well taken. I agree that the relatively young age at marriage for most Mormons means that social roles are often the effect not the cause of the marriage arrangements. Nevertheless, my unmarried friends who are the most accomplished always knew they would be—and they planned to be. The most successful single women I know didn’t wait around until they were 24 or 25, deciding to go to graduate school or pursue a profession only because they didn’t get married. There are, of course, others who end up furthering their professional or academic training by default when their prospects look dim, but this group is usually less accomplished than the first.

    Matt and Rosalynde—–“subordinate” is Dowd’s word.

    Matt—In your comment #20 you draw a conclusion that isn’t warranted. Just because a study may show that women are reluctant to marry men less successful or intelligent than themselves (which I don’t doubt), doesn’t mean that women would prefer their husbands to be smarter than they. It may mean that women prefer parity in intelligence. Men, on the other hand, don’t seem to mind intelligence disparity. This seems to me to be an important point. If smart women don’t want to marry men who bore them (I personally couldn’t bear it) but smart men don’t mind having boring wives, this does in fact leave smart women at a disadvantage.

    Bryce, Dowd’s tone makes me think you’re right about her possible audience—-not necessarily her mother, but those who may have disapproved of her or worried over this aspect of her personal life. And yes, Dowd, despite her name, is hardly dowdy.

    Kristine introduced the word “assertive” in her comment, indicating that the RS President is rarely a very assertive woman. Although it seems like Kris used the word as a synonym for ambition, this adjective complicates and extends the discussion in an important way. I think of “assertivess” as an attitude, a demeanor, or a disposition. It seems to me that it may be a particular attitude or demeanor that is perceived as threatening—-much more so than either difference in intelligence or professional ambition.

    Does it change things if these real differences are carefully hidden under the right LDS female persona?

  28. I am guessing that age is more of a factor than professional credentials or advanced degrees. Men prefer to marry someone who is shorter and women seem to prefer to marry someone who is taller. Is there a similar issue with age? Do men in general prefer to marry younger women and do women in general prefer to marry older men? I don’t have statistics to back this impression up so I’m willing to hear otherwise.

    If there is anything to this at all, maybe when a woman hits her 30s, 40s or 50s the pool unattached attractive older men is somehow growing smaller and smaller? A man can generally marry younger so his pool essentially grows and grows but the woman’s pool shrinks and shrinks? Of course there’s limits on this to a certain extent. The man’s potential mating pool won’t grow forever unless he’s an octogenarian billionaire dating strippers (Anna Nicole Smith being the example I’m thinking of here).

    Maybe these thoughts are nuts. I’m shooting from the hip here and could be completely wrong.

  29. Melissa,

    I’m interested in your last comment to Rosalynde. If the most talented women always planned on going to graduate school, wouldn’t they be at a disadvantage in the marriage market vis a vis women who go to college with the primary goal of getting married? It would seem that having the determination to get married would predict success in the marriage market in the same way a determination to get into grad school would be predictive of graduate admission. Women with the dual goals of marriage and graduate school have to compete with women whose “only” goal is marriage, and who therefore have more time and, more importantly, more flexibility. Because marriage plans typically require that at least one partner modify their plans for the sake of the relationship, if one person qualifies their flexibility from the outset, the probability that the relationship will end in marriage declines.

    Regarding my comment #20, it should be read in conjunction with my additional comments in #25. Marital dissatisfaction was found higher for both spouses when the woman was smarter, but the opposite was not true for either spouse when the man was smarter.

  30. I agree with Kristine’s thoughts too and can’t add to it. One thing I have found interesting is that some men in the Church (not those who personally know her) find Sheri Dew to not be a good role model for women in the Church. To which I hearily disagree. I find her a very good role model for women everywhere. She is a true inspiration. I think men are threatened by ambitious and , as they see it, overly intelligent women. Which is more an indication of THEIR insecurities rather than anything else.

  31. I’m an Ivy League bachelor’s degree-educated single LDS guy. Growing up on the East coast, never once did it cross my mind that the young women I grew up with at church would or should achieve different academic or professional lives than me.

    By contrast, a member friend and classmate, now in medical school, once told me that she’d never received flack at school for being a woman and planning on becoming a doctor (unsurprising, given the sheer number of premed students of both sexes around us), but did experience it back home in Salt Lake. I was flabbergasted; of course I’d anecdotally heard of such attitudes within and without the Church, but that was the first time I’d actually heard of it happening to someone I knew personally.

    Having said that, here’s two anecdotes to consider, in tandem:
    * A top grad school-educated single member I know told me and some others that he’d never date anyone with an advanced degree, like say a lawyer. This was in 2003, mind you!
    * On the other hand, another top school-educated member friend told me he only dates women who either attended a top school or could have. (He’s still single, too.)

    Opinion #1 astounded and disgusted me. With opinion #2 my only reaction was to chuckle and humorously caution my friend, “Geez, dude, aren’t you limiting the field a little bit?” But now that I think about it, how is #1 any less “right” or “proper” than #2? What makes #2 more societally acceptable than #1?

  32. My daughter, who is at BYU, told me that her roomies said that she needs to tell the guys that she is studying early childhood ed rather than biochemistry. They are concerned that she will scare away potential suitors. I told her that any man that is intimidated by an intelligent woman isn’t worth dating.

    I told my daughter that one of the things that I found attractive in her mother was her intellect. None of us will be particularly much to look at in our nineties and by then the physical aspect of the marriage may not be as important as it is now. That’s *may not*.

    We’ve all seen couples that are not only intellectually unequal, but the disparity is causing pain in the marriage.

    I think it could be backlash to the degradation of the traditional family. Many long for a family like the Cleavers. Some security in a world of serial divorce.

  33. Matt writes,

    “Women with the dual goals of marriage and graduate school have to compete with women whose “only” goal is marriage, and who therefore have more time and, more importantly, more flexibility. Because marriage plans typically require that at least one partner modify their plans for the sake of the relationship, if one person qualifies their flexibility from the outset, the probability that the relationship will end in marriage declines.”

    Yes, of course. The point here is that the probability of marriage declines in most cases only if the person qualifiying their flexibility from the outset is the woman. If a woman has qualified her flexibility ( I’m a biochemist so I just can’t live in Parowan or Elko) that is less,—–much, much less socially acceptable. In some LDS circles (perhaps especially in Utah) it even elicits opprobrium.

  34. Floyd, while at BYU I often used to say my major was English or Business and not physics. It wasn’t due to some anti-intellectualism, just the fear in others that I was “beyond” them. And, to a degree, there is some truth to it. I wonder if I didn’t have the intellectual outlet of blogging if it would cause stress in my marriage. I’d hope not, but my wife hasn’t even gone to college. When she inquires about what I’m writing and its a technical issue between two philosophers, I have a hard time responding. Likewise when I’m in a discussion with people about technical issues she feels left out in left field. You try to include her, but it can be hard. I know that in my own parents marriage that did at time cause stress.

    In other words I’m not sure this is necessarily due to the reasons some might think. Rather I think a man feels this obligation (whether fair or not) to be able to provide for his wife and part of that providing is talking. Our culture places huge emphasis on entertainment. If you look past issues of appearance, the biggest point of attraction in American culture is whether the other person entertains you. This is especially true for women, given mens often single minded emphasis on sex. (Whether conscious or not) Yet if a woman is so smart and has interests so beyond your ability to provide you feel insecure. Often that insecurity is only unconscious, but I suspect it provides a lot of the reason why smart women often are left out in the cold.

    The other reason, from my experience with smart women, is that smart women don’t enjoy the typical activities during the dating rituals. Since most LDS marry young, that tends to entail that most men are dating women just out of high school up to at most 21. (Sad but true) What men learn to do on date simply will bore the typical smart or driven woman. Now of course there are ways around that and some smart women love the typical activities of young women at BYU. But I often notice desparaging comments from smart women I’ve known towards such activities.

    Whether intended or not, men pick up on such feelings – even if only on an unconscious level. That’s simply going to affect dating.

    Now one can get out from all this. But by and large it will be harder in the LDS community precisely because of the marriage age. i.e. a smart woman outside of Mormondome simply has different issues because no one gets married until their late 20’s whereas in Mormondom the pressures are radically different. If, by the time you are a sophomore, most of your friends are engaged, it simply changes how you think about things.

  35. I used to tell people I studied family science simply because they wouldn’t believe me when I told them physics. You wouldn’t believe how much more relaxed a boy would be if I finally stopped asserting I was a physics major. I usually had a bit of fun with those guys- I convinced one of them that a BYU professor had invented perpetual motion because of the magnet driven toys on display in the science building.

  36. That’s not the one you ended up marrying, is it Sumer? Because if so, that’s a pretty good Steve story.

  37. For the same evolutionary reasons,
    “Women just want daddy.”

    I wonder if Dowd, who has no reputation for cogent reasoning, would agree? (I say this because she’s not like my daddy?! or my mommy!)

  38. Melissa,

    The likelihood of marriage declines if either partner has limited flexibility. If a BYU student of either sex in their senior year tells potential mates, “I’m moving to Boston this August for grad school,” the potential mates will infer that marrying soon isn’t the student’s top priority and is willing to limit their serious-marriage-prospects to those willing to move to Boston. And if the Boston student is determined to go to New York upon graduation, their inflexibility again reduces their marriagability.

    If women are generally more flexible than men, then inflexible women are more disadvantaged than are inflexible men (men have a better inflexible:flexible ratio), but flexible people are more marriageable than their inflexible counterparts.

    Because melding lives requires flexibility, determined and ambitious (read: less-flexible) people have a harder time melding lives with each other.

  39. I think that part of the problem I have (and my sisters, I think, have this too), is that we want to get married, but we do not want to get married more than anything else in this world, to the exclusion of all other activities. Several of her friends (she’s six years younger than I) are married or engaged already, and I don’t even have a steady boyfriend — nor does she. Almost everyone who was in my Youth activities (not a huge group, given the branch we were in at the time) is married or cohabitating with someone of the opposite sex.

    Maybe if we weren’t smart, weren’t in college, didn’thave money and want to do fun things, we’d be married already (she’s almost 19), because hey, what else is there to do? But we have other things to do, and the ability to do those things, and getting married doesn’t have to be The Be All And End All of Our Existence As Young People.

    Of course it doesn’t help that we’ve seen tons of examples of what not to do (my mom’s successful marriage didn’t happen until she was 30, though she was married twice before — my dad’s was at age 35, with one marriage behind him), particularly in the realm of getting married or seriously involved at a young age. Kind of pulls the last vestiges of “wow, I should already be hitched” right out of your head… and if that doesn’t work, you can look at the paragons of youthful marriage in our culture (Britney Spears, for instance). At the end of the day, if you ask Caroline or I (I just did ask her, so I can say this with authority) why we’re not married, the answer is just: we’re too young!

    And if there are guys out there who want to marry twitty 18 year olds with hardly an ambition to their name, well, both of us are clearly out of the running, you know?

  40. Matt,

    I strongly disagree here. I don’t think that the likelihood of marriage necessarily declines for men in your stipulated situation. I think men are more likely to assume that women will follow them wherever their schooling or employment takes them. Most LDS men move forward making career educational plans without considering the possibility of making major modifications to accommodate their wife’s professional advancement. LDS women, however, have to be willing to abandon school or career plans to accommodate their husband’s goals in these areas, and often do.

    You write,
    “Because melding lives requires flexibility, determined and ambitious (read: less-flexible) people have a harder time melding lives with each other.” I’ve already said this, but I think it’s obvious that men can be fairly inflexible without much consequence in their marriageability, while women simply can’t.

    You write,
    “If a BYU student of either sex in their senior year tells potential mates, “I’m moving to Boston this August for grad school,â€? the potential mates will infer that marrying soon isn’t the student’s top priority and is willing to limit their serious-marriage-prospects to those willing to move to Boston.”

    It is just this sort of thinking that troubles me, Matt. I think the inference that you say someone would draw is mistaken. Why should moving to Boston (to use your example) for school or work mean that marriage isn’t a top priority? I don’t think that your stipulated situation works since most LDS women assume that they will have to accommodate their husband’s goals. There are few LDS men who accommodate their wives’ goals if it means real sacrifice—-a long distance move, debt, sharing child-raising duties, etc.

    This point is driven home by the fact that I have LDS men (men I’m dating, family members, ecclesiastical leaders, friends) ask me all the time if I want to be a mother. “Don’t you want to have kids?â€? they ask me. This always shocks and offends me. Why should they assume otherwise? I would never ask one of my single LDS male friends in business, medical or law school such a question—-nobody would. The fact that they have ambitious professional goals for which they’ve sought specialized training does not mean that they are “inflexible,â€? contrary to Matt’s suggestion. These men are perceived as having responsibly prepared themselves to support a family. Women who have ambitious professional goals for which they’ve sought specialized training are under suspicion and therefore pay a real penalty. I know dozens and dozens of women who have experienced this.

    While Matt’s suggestion that flexibility may be the issue may be true for highly educated women who may be perceived as inflexible and thus less likely to marry, ultimately I don’t think the issue is as much about flexibility as other things.

  41. As one who would like nothing more than to meet a single LDS woman with no limit on the extent of her education, intelligence, or even ambition — the more the better — I have to ask a question: where are they? All right, there are other criteria: 30s to early 40s, not over medium height/weight. But still, precisely because of the factors that have been discussed above, I wonder how prevalent the class of women Dowd was describing are among Mormons. Doubtless there are some, but there seem to be fewer than in the general population, at least here in the Northeast. I understand that there are lots of older single women, it’s just that there seem to be few who are well-educated acheiving professionals.

    Is this a phenomenon of a slightly younger generation? Do such women become inactive as they get older? Do they just not exist because the culture socializes them into early-than-average marriage? Do they not live here? Are they all just really tall?

  42. Melissa, sorry to be belatedly responding to your comment #31. I think it is ambition more generally, not just professional ambition, that is frowned on in LDS women. We don’t really like our Young Women’s leaders to have a real vision for the YW program that involves rocking the boat; we don’t want the RS President to have ambitious goals that either look different from “what has always been done” or that make new demands (requests–women can’t really “demand” anything!) on priesthood leaders. I do think it’s largely a matter of style, that a flowered dress with a lace collar and a soft, sweet voice can go a long way towards covering a will of iron. Being overtly assertive or obviously liking to be in charge is the best way for a woman to assure that she will *never* be in charge of anything.

    In the dating game, I suspect the way this plays out is that women who coo over babies or collect baby clothes before they are married (um, yeah, there’s a confession in there) fare better in the game better than women who really just want to be in the physics lab and don’t make a secret of it. But being in the lab is OK, if you *also* do the gooey baby-loving bit and otherwise seem like a “nice” Mormon girl. Appearing soft around the edges is really important in Mo culture, maybe even more important than what your actual ambitions are.

  43. “being in the lab is OK, if you *also* do the gooey baby-loving bit and otherwise seem like a “nice” Mormon girl”

    That was Sumer’s secret. She does a great nice mormon impersonation. Plus: I thought she was a terrible nerd (and rightly so), but making out like bandits made up for that awkwardness.

  44. I agree with Rosalynde’s posts about the fact that it is very easy to mess up the causality. Women may get more education because they do not get married, but the education did not cause the lack of marriage.

    Let me just note that the IQ-marriage correlation noted in the Dowd column is absolutely bizarre. I have no idea how they came up with that. I looked up the study and I think it is based on a sample of Scots born in the 30s or 40s.

    The numbers they give are simply implausible– suppose about 70% of women are currently married in their 30’s (this is a little high but close). So if a standard deviation changed that by 40%, that would mean that a bright women (IQ=132) would have a chance of marriage of about 35%, which is a little silly in how low it is. Also, a modestly dumb women (IQ=84) would have a 98% chance of getting married. Any dumber and her marriage would be assured!

    I happen to have looked at related issues recently and so I pulled up a dataset that tracked people since high school on (the NLSY). For those women, all of whom are now in their 30’s, the better they do on IQ tests, the more likely they are to be married. The sample size is larger than the Scots study and the data is more recent and is for Americans.

    Here are the real numbers. Divide up by race and then have four brackets for test score so that the first bracket is the lowest 25% and the last bracket is the highest 25% on the test. Marriage rates are as follows:

    lowest 25% — 35% married
    25-50% — 41% married
    50-75% — 48% married
    highest 25% — 57% married

    lowest 25% — 65% married
    25-50% — 67% married
    50-75% — 70% married
    highest 25% — 71% married

    The test used is the same one Murray used for the Bell Curve (an imperfect book), called the AFQT. THe test is used by the armed forces for recruits and was taken by these women while in high school. The data show an obvious positive relationship between IQ and marriage. There is no sign whatsoever of the negative relationship found by the British psychologists. This effect is not really a big deal for white women but is quite important in explaining black marriage rates. Also, black marriage rates are way lower than white ones.

  45. Frank,

    Interesting comments. I agree that it is easy to err in regards to whether higher education prohibits marriage. Certainly there are many cases (maybe most?) in which “women may get more education because they do not get married.” However, it seems pretty clear that the causality can go both ways, especially in LDS culture.

    I couldn’t agree with you more that high IQ is probably not a good indicator of low marriageability and that both studies cited by Dowd are deeply flawed. As I indicated in my original post, however, since IQ is different from education, which is different from professional ambition, I think the more interesting question is the question about what role education and professional orientation play in marriageability among Latter-day Saints. I think most Mormon men would prefer to marry women who are smart, but would rather not marry women who are more educated than they are. If they are career oriented that seems to be a further drawback.

    By the way, you call the Bell Curve an imperfect book, but isn’t it more accurate to confess that it has been roundly discredited?

  46. Melissa,

    There’s been something troubling me about the lines of reasoning here, and I think I finally put my finger on it.

    You cite to Dowd, who cites to the study, that “powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer to marry less-accomplished women.”

    (As delicately as possible)

    And yet, in comment 18, you talk about powerful, ambitious women, including yourself, turning down proposals (I believe you’re refering to marriage proposals).

    If you and your educated friends are turning down proposals, then it’s hard to use your experience to support the idea that men don’t want to marry educated Mormon women. It seems that your experience suggests, if anything that educated Mormon women just don’t like the types of proposals they receive.

    Of course, that may be related to the first idea. (Perhaps you sense in a proposal an implied condition that you stop your career, for instance). But it seems that your experience does _not_ support Dowd’s characterization that men want to marry less-educated women. It sounds like you’ve got the “men want to marry” part down fine, and you are (apparently) just waiting for the right proposal from the right guy. Which is a different problem altogether.

  47. Floyd the Wonder Dog said “My daughter, who is at BYU, told me that her roomies said that she needs to tell the guys that she is studying early childhood ed rather than biochemistry. They are concerned that she will scare away potential suitors. I told her that any man that is intimidated by an intelligent woman isn’t worth dating.”

    That all depends on what kind of suitors they’re trying to scare away. For myself, my brothers, and many of my male friends when I was at BYU, “I’m a secondary ed major” was socially equivalent to “I have the plague.” I specifically went after my wife because she was smart and ambitious- she graduated with university and departmental honors in Molecular Biology and a French minor. I think it’s best to be honest in college- there are enough people around that you can find your type. If you pretend to be secondary ed., you’re going to end up dating people who are interested in secondary ed…. If you’re honest, you’ll eventually meet similar people…

  48. While at BYU I regularly heard women state that they were childhood education majors. I am not opposed to this strand of education but I never found it all that interesting either. Usually I assumed that having this major was code for “I really really want to be a stay-at-home mom and have kids.”

    One time (while I was at BYU) a nice girl I was interested in picked me up in her car and gave me a ride. She chattered quite a bit on her car-phone, which at the time was an unusual item to have. When she dropped me off she apologized to me “for being so independent.” The apology left me wondering why she was apologizing. I got the impression that she was saying that in other circumstances she would have asked me to drive her car.

    I’m not sure women realize sometimes how often we men appreciate independence, intellect, ambition and drive. These are usually the women who have the most interesting things to talk about.

  49. Danithew,

    That reminds me of one experience I recall from my dating days, when I was playing the piano at the Institute and a young woman came over, sat down next to me, and started oohing and ahhing over my playing. Which I found a little disconcerting, because I was just messing around, trying some different melodies and whatnot to see how they sounded, the usual “sit down and mess around and see how it sounds,” and (as such sessions sometimes turn out) I was sounding awful a lot more than I was sounding good. So I found the experience a little strange — I was happy that she was paying attention to me (she was really cute) but I remember thinking “this woman doesn’t know a thing about music.” Or she was just saying what she thought I wanted to hear. Either way, it was strange.

  50. Kaimi,

    I think there’s a contingent of women at BYU who have been trained to flatter men and appeal to the male ego. It’s all in the spirit of that book “Fascinating Womanhood.” I know most girls haven’t read it but I’m thinking their mothers did read this book, still believe in its tenets and that somehow these principles are passed down. I can imagine a mother saying to her daughter: “You don’t want young men at BYU to think you are too independent.”

    I suspect it also has something to do with wearing a certain style of dresses and having a bow in their hair. I could be wrong. I had some odd personal theories about what was going on with this stuff but there seemed to be a certain demographic that dressed and talked a certain way and it seemed a bit programmatic to me.

    Then again this was at least ten years ago. I have no idea if this group is still around. I don’t mean to condemn them at all. They were nice, attractive and often very smart as well. But they seemed to be very role-conscious and wanted to portray themselves a certain way. I think that’s how they attract the man they want. That’s one way I explain that apology I got from the girl who gave me a ride. Obviously she was worried I would perceive her as “too independent.”

    I’m an amateur sociologist and I deserve any criticism that rains down on me for this comment.

  51. Kaimi,

    From the beginning I have been trying to separate several issues that I think Dowd conflates. In her piece, Dowd suggests that men want to marry women who are 1) not as bright as they are, 2) not as educated as they are, and 3) not as professionally successful as they are. She equates all of these things and then throws in the idea that if a woman is intelligent, educated and professionally successful (supposedly a package deal for Dowd) then they will not be as good at nurturing. She implies this by saying that men don’t want to marry up professionally because they want women who will take care of them, like mom did.

    The problem here, of course, is that all of these issues are very different and should not be conflated. A woman can have natural intelligence without having an extensive education and she may likewise have an extensive education but have no desire to pursue a career. Furthermore, neither intelligence nor education can be postively or negatively correlated to the trait of nurturing.

    It seems clear that LDS men, like all men, want to date and marry intelligent women. In fact, many LDS men want to date and marry well-educated women. I think the statistics bear this out as does my own experience. It seems to be serious professional orientation that marks the difference.

    Since I made the mistake of referencing my own experience and Kaimi has asked follow up questions along these lines, I will clarify my point with personal references, fully acknowledging how problematic that is for drawing broad conclusions.

    All the men I’ve ever dated have been attracted to my intelligence, without question. I think most men I’ve dated have also admired or respected my education. But, I have stopped dating men and also turned down marriage proposals from men who clearly misunderstood my professional commitment. These men were unwilling to support my career goals in tangible ways. In my experience, most LDS men do not want their wife to pursue a career.

    There are multiple reasons for this ranging from psychological (feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, fear of competition) to practical (Our children need will need a full-time caregiver and I can’t/won’t do it so my wife needs to) to theological (you are a woman and as such you are naturally more inclined to nurture so you should stay home) to ecclesiastical (look, the prophet says mothers are supposed to stay home) to subconsciously sociological (this sort of arrangement is what is expected by our community. I don’t want to be judged for being different.)

    There have also been men who have clearly understood my professional goals. Sadly, they usually make sense of them by misconstruing my commitment to the Church. Among this group, there are those more orthodox who I’ve stopped dating because they think my testimony must be in queston if I seek a career. And, then there are those more heterodox who I’ve turned away despite the fact that they are willing to support my career goals because they are usually lukewarm in their own commitment to the Church, which is unacceptable to me.

    I know that all of this is about as clear as mud. The long and short of it is this:

    I think deeply committed, highly educated and professionally ambitious Latter-day Saint men do not want to marry LDS women who are also highly educated and professionally ambitious (even though it is becoming if they are bright and have a college degree)

    Of course all of this goes with the usual caveats that there are wonderful exceptions—-even among the men I’ve known—and that obviously one person’s experience cannot be generalized, etc., etc.

  52. Perhaps many men perceive a woman’s dedication to professional goals as a declaration that she is less interested in having and raising children. I wonder if they are objecting to the possibility of having a lesser number of children, the idea that children might be raised by someone other than a parent or both.

    I suppose a woman could go out of her way to communicate that she wants to have a career and family. The question is the degree to which a man believes what the woman is saying and is willing to support her in that goal.

    In the case of the woman who does not want to have children at all and says so from the beginning, I would think a man might be justified in rejecting her as a potential marital partner.

  53. Melissa,

    That makes sense. And sorry to put you on the spot about your dating experience (I’m awfully glad I don’t blog about my former dating life!).

    I like your list of reasons, and I think they’re often interconnected. However, it seems to me that “practical” reasons may be the real deal-breaker — unless you or your husband are independently wealthy, someone (or more than one) is going to have to make serious sacrifices in balancing work / school with childraising. That may mean using hired childcare, or taking steps that will probably damage one or both spouse’s career.

    And you’re absolutely right that the general expectation is just to let that sacrifice fall on the woman.

  54. As a funny aside, since someone mentioned Fascinating Womanhood the flier for public classes from UVSC came today. Two of the odder classes was one on The DaVince Code taught by someone in the philosophy department and one on Fascinating Womanhood. I don’t recall who taught that one. Yet both seemed to be serious classes. The latter in particular was using the book to teach about dating . From the writeup it seemed to be serious. (i.e. not using the book as a bad example)

    Getting back to topic. I think Kami is right. Career is valuable. However I think most men also value having someone at home with the children so they don’t become latch key kids. I think though, at the same time, most men also value women with a career. It’s a definite plus. But that question about children really looms large. A woman who puts career ahead of children certainly will have her dating options affected. That means, of course, as a practical issue how a woman communicates her desires and plans will affect how men perceive pursuing her.

  55. Clark,

    Of course, the perfect solution is clear . . .we need to reinstate polygamy! Then we can have the professional mom, the professional dad, and the stay-at-home mom, all in the same family!

    (In case it isn’t blatantly obvious — and lest I get in trouble with my wife / Bishop / whoever — this suggestion is not meant seriously).

  56. Are there some good studies that break down marriage patterns in different regions of the country? I wonder if Dowd’s point of view may reflect marriage patterns in her region of the country? I also wonder if perhaps Dowd’s expreriences could be a reaction to her particular political proclivities and the interpersonal baggage associated with those political values and culture? I read the other day that among the white population of this country, there is a significantly higher birth rate in the red states than there is in the blue states. Behind those statistics there are probably some social and psychological attitudes that impact marriage rates.

  57. Melissa, I thought your original post was framed in terms of this conclusion:

    “Still the basic conclusion is that a man would rather marry a subordinate.”

    But in reality the discussion seems to have come around to a view that a man would rather marry a woman who is more interested in spending time with their children than spending 50 hours a week at a job. You call this employed woman an “ambitious” woman, though recognizing that this is ambitious in the sense of career ambitious. Unless being at home makes one subordinate, or being the bread-winner makes one more important, I would suggest the following modifcation to your thesis:

    “Still the basic conclusion is that a man would rather marry a woman who chooses to mostly be at home working rather than mostly be out of the home working.”

    And a perhaps more accurate title would not be about being “powerful”, but rather:

    “Are women who choose employment to time with children at a disadvantage [in the marriage market]?”

    to which I would respond, in the case of the faithful LDS market, yes.

  58. I am a powerful woman. I am not the president of the United States, but I have my own power. I’m way smarter than my husband and sometimes I think he feels threatened, especially because I think I’m always right and I’m obnoxious about it. I am a small woman with a big mouth and he is a great big strong quiet guy who loves me and doesn’t (most of the time) feel threatened by my intellect.

    (Which, you guys, I must say, some of you must be laughing at that, oh, go ahead, mock me, I think it’s funny, too–because you obviously are very smart, and I can’t understand half what you are talking about.) I digress.

    I have taught my daughters to be powerful women. We don’t take no crap.

    . . .On the other hand, I think this polarity between men and women is unnecessary and sometimes caused by smart powerful women wanting their way. I know this from personal experience–I do it all the time. I think men are almost more oppressed than women sometimes, put down and made to look like the stupid ones. Well, sort of, they are, sometimes. But they are people, too.

    I have read Dr. Laura’s book about I can’t remember the title, re-make your marriage or something, and I think there’s validity to that.

    Maybe that was off the subject. However, I have been called pushy, where a man might be called strong. You know, that old garbage, which I simply ignore. Old age can do that for you.

    So yeah, I teach my daughters they are women, hear them roar, but I also teach them that their mates are people, too, and everybody has a job to do. In our house, I make the nasty phone calls, and my husband makes the best buttermilk pancakes.

  59. Melissa,

    To follow up on Frank’s comment, what exactly is the family situation that your powerful, ambitious LDS woman is looking for?

    1. Is she looking for a “Mr. Mom” who is himself willing to be the primary caregiver? I’ve known some Mr. Mom’s whose family situation seems to work very well, but they seem to be the exception. Particularly if the ambitious woman is looking for an intellectual equal (which seems to mean, as you’re using the term, someone with an advanced degree). And if that’s the case, then is what she is seeking simply a role reversal, where the powerful woman assumes the traditional masculine role of breadwinner for herself and delegates the traditional feminine role to her husband?

    2. On the other hand, is the powerful woman wanting a powerful husband, an intellectual and aspirational equal? If that’s the case, and if the woman wants children, the obvious question is who is going to raise the kids. Is the powerful woman looking for a husband who is willing to drop off the kids at daycare every day? That’s an arrangement that many people in the church are likely to frown upon. (Also, if the couple are both academics, it may not be affordable).

    3. Or, is the powerful woman looking for a man willing to arrange some type of career time-sharing — two-years-on, two-years-off, for childcare responsbilities, for example? That seems to be a potentially bad idea, especially for academics — you could end up with two half-finished Ph.D’s, neither of which is worth anything.

    Are there other options I’m missing here? (Aside from one or both of the people being independently wealthy?) You’re dealing with some inflexible variables — childcare takes time; academic positions are tough to break into; the rent must be paid. It’s not clear what your vision is for solving that.

  60. I like Frank’s point in post 64, as it resonates with my experience. I ranked intelligence, aspiration, and education very high on my list of wished-for spousal attributes (while growing up in rural Utah, I was proud to state that my mother and both of my grandmothers had college degrees, and found that this was far from the norm). I also ranked my spouse’s willingness to be at home during the formative years of my children’s growing-up years quite high. What was not as clear to me then, though, was the extent to which these two areas can be accommodated. Given, it takes effort, the right area of professional interest, and the right employer, but it can be done. To the extent that we can be advocates for the enlargment of the spectrum of possibilities in which women are able to enjoy a meaningful vocation from home, while still assuring that the kids are properly cared for, I think we should do so.

  61. Okay, I’m not Melissa, but this is from the sort of normal, average ordinary powerful woman.

    I am not attracted to stupid wimps. I could not be with a man who wasn’t powerful–could we say strong? in his own right.

    Every man I’ve been in love with has been strong. Strong is not about money or career.

    The thing about this, for me and my friends, is that sometimes “strong” can be a synonym for abusive, and sometimes I think we fail to see the–one of the things with dementia is forgetting the name for things–value! of a man who is not over-powering.

    Speaking for myself, I want it all. Not money-wise, but strong man, and nice thoughtful sensitive man.

    You know, you guys are sort of losing me, so if this is completely off the subject, just go on. For ordinary run-of-the-mill women, they might understand.

  62. Kaimi, of course there are inflexible variables and difficult negotiations. There’s no way a woman can have an “ideal situation” worked out ahead of time, because it doesn’t exist. I think part of Melissa’s point is that many, many Mormon men aren’t willing to enter the negotiation, and will just go in search of women more willing to sacrifice their own goals for the sake of their husbands and children.

    Which, I think, leaves us exactly where every discussion of women’s roles begins and ends. There are sacrifices to be made, and there is a strong assumption in LDS culture that women should make them. Why? And are the punishments we mete out to women who won’t sacrifice quite so much just? Doctrinally required?

  63. Kristine,

    What punishments do women suffer? I’m aware of peer pressure, disdain or disapproval that a woman might endure. Perhaps you are referring to an ambitious woman not finding that mate who is willing to compromise? I just want to make sure I understand what you are talking about.

  64. Yes, I think the punishments are mostly social ones–not getting married, being distrusted and disdained by women who’ve chosen more conventional paths.

  65. Kristine,

    I don’t mean to underestimate or diminish the significance of social pressures and stresses. They can be very painful and do feel like punishments. Being alone and single throughout life would (I think) especially be difficult. At the same time it seems to me that most (not all) have their pair or partner somewhere if they will look.

    Marriage is a give-and-take relationship anyway. It seems to me that those who willingly choose to fall in love with each other should be prepared for adjustments and compromises. Anyone who thinks he/she can have a hard-held agreement and understanding as to how marital responsibilities will be divided throughout mortality might be due for some rough surprises.

  66. Danithew, I agree entirely with your second paragraph–indeed, I meant to be saying the same thing to Kaimi. However, I don’t think it’s true that everyone has their perfect partner somewhere, if they’ll look–I know far, far too many wonderful, righteous, single people who would be married if it were just a matter of looking hard enough.

  67. (no one ever believes me when I do this. why do I even bother?)

    When we talk about ‘sacrificing’, we talk about women sacrificing their career aspirations for family.

    We should be talking about men sacrificing time with their families in the pursuit of filthy lucre.

    Every marriage has to negotiate time allocation. That’s a given. But if we assume that

    sacrifice=taking care of children


    benefit=working out of the house

    then we’ve already, and forgive my harshness here, let Satan win about what is truly valuable without even putting up a fight.

    (And everyone who knows me knows that I don’t think that women–even those with young children–shouldn’t do things beyond home and family.)

    I think a more reasonable approach to Time Allocation in Marriage begins along these lines, “If either one of us is with the children 24/7, she/he will burnout. If either one of us is away from the children 24/7, she/he will miss out on one of the most important things in life. So, how are we going to divvy up the goods?”

  68. Frank writes,

    “Still the basic conclusion is that a man would rather marry a subordinate.”

    This is Dowd’s conclusion. Not mine. I was merely summarizing what her conflations amounted to. My post was framed around a series of questions, for which Dowd’s piece was just a foil.

    Clark writes,

    “Career is valuable. However I think most men also value having someone at home with the children so they don’t become latch key kids. I think though, at the same time, most men also value women with a career. It’s a definite plus. But that question about children really looms large.”

    Your comment is revealing, Clark. I think most women also value having someone at home with the children. But, your comment implies that that person must be the mother, as if it’s the case that if women don’t stay home the only other option is that children will become “latch key kids.” There are other options.

    Kaimi offers one when he writes,

    “Or, is the powerful woman looking for a man willing to arrange some type of career time-sharing – two-years-on, two-years-off, for childcare responsbilities, for example?”

    I think there are lots of different sorts of arrangements that could made. There are countless scenarios of job-sharing, flex-time situations, working from home and so forth that could be negotated. The reason these arrangements aren’t explored is because men don’t consider them. They have very specific expectations about who should stay home and who should pursue a career. I sometimes think that this stems from the unfortunate and frankly, nonsensical conflation of fatherhood with financial success. I think if fathers took a more active role in parenting, felt an actual responsibility for fathering things would change. I think that these sorts of changes begin with attitudes. If a Mormon male finds out that a woman is career oriented, his first thought should not be “does she want to have children?” nor should his second thought be “even if she does want kids, I don’t want *my* children shipped off to daycare!” There should be more engagement, more conversation, more willingness to sacrifice, more willing to negotiate and problemsolve together. I think a lack of creativity means that the wife by default gives up her professional goals—-or never makes any to begin with because of the general consensus among our culture and the men she’s dated/man she married that she shouldn’t really be in the marketplace in the first place.

    The truth is that most women (including LDS women) in the US will work at some point in their lives. (I can’t remember the statistics here, but it’s something like 85%). But, since there are societal deterrents in LDS culture against women actually pursuing a real profession, pressures which mitigate attaining graduat education or receiving specialized training, when they do have to go to work many LDS women end up working as secretaries, receptionists, sales associates in retail and so forth. These positions are not intellectually challenging, and they do not pay well. Sadly, I think many LDS women find themselves unqualified for anything else, unles they can teach grade school. Perhaps if there weren’t pressures in the marriage market which make it unattractive to be professionally inclined more LDS women would go on to graduate school and pursue real careers.

    But, I digress.

    Incidentally, my parents have always both worked full-time and also shared child-raising responsibilities equally. They’ve had to make many sacrifices to do so, but they’ve still managed to raise 11 children, pay for braces, send us on missions, and to college, etc.

    By the way, Kaimi, I think two academics in some ways would have the easiest time of it since academics, although we work very hard, have flexible schedules, don’t teach during the Summer, can write from home, etc.

  69. Julie–I disagree. It’s true that parts of raising children are really important and really wonderful. However, it is also true that a huge amount of childcare, especially of very young children, involves mindless, mind-numbing, mind-boggling drudgery. Doing this boring work instead of, say, being in the library researching a paper *feels* like a sacrifice to me, no matter how many times I’m told that the special tenderness with which mothers wipe their babies’ bottoms has imponderable significance. It’s true that all jobs have crappy, boring parts, but lots of jobs have really good parts too, and you can’t tell me it’s not a real loss to miss out on them. I love being with my kids, and I feel like it was the right thing to do to stay home with them, but I really loved grad. school, too, and it *was* a sacrifice to give up an academic career to be home. I don’t know very many men who feel a strong sense of loss about not being home to change diapers and scrape babyfood off the floor all day.

  70. Melissa,

    Nice responses, I of course expected as much of you.

    About whether it’s easier as academics — well, for two tenured or tenure-track academics, maybe. But I know a lot of academic couples, and based on discussions with them, it’s often extremely hard to make it work for both careers. When he gets an offer from a school in Oregon and she gets an offer from a school in New Jersey, they tend to have to make tough choices. Because of that, you’ll see academic couples often try to stay in the Eastern corridor or in California, to facilitate the kind of “I’m at NYU, she’s at Columbia” kind of arrangements. Still, it’s a tough row to hoe.

  71. Krisine:

    Your absolutely correct, but I’m not sure that’s really responding to Julie’s point. As I understand it, she’s trying to say that the starting point for both parents should be providing care for and spending time with the children. Then anything beyond that that involves either fun work or work that’s just to make a living should be extended carefully so that there is a feasible balance (or imabalance as the choice may be) for the parents.

    To cast the discussion as being mainly about missing out on career opportunities (whether they are lucrative or not) is to misplace priorities and risk being caught up in the meritocracy game.

  72. Kaimi,

    Granted. It is a tough row to hoe.

    There are other options that would work well too. I could marry a sexy, scruffy-faced novelist who writes from home . . . or a buff personal trainer who only works in the early morning and late evening hours at the gym . . . or a gourmet chef of a five star restaurant who only works on weekends . . . .alright, alright, I admit it, all of these options are pretty unlikely. Much more unlikely than marrying an another academic.

    Still, I could actually stay single!! The truth is that I actually like being single. If I really wanted to be married I could be, but I’m not because I’m pretty happy with my life the way things are.

    It’s not entirely out of the question I suppose that I could get married, have a child and become so besotted with my own infant that I’d never want to leave the nursery. Doubtful, but nothing’s impossible.

  73. Kristine–

    Of course you are right–for the very small minority of people whose jobs even occasionally enter the neighborhood called ‘personally fulfulling.’ For everyone else, this is elitist nonsense.

    You know we’d beat down any man who entered one of our conversations about this if he said something like, “You ladies just don’t realize how hard/boring/mindnumbing it is to deal with whiny customers/do document review/write charts, etc.” But you are doing the same thing about motherhood. I’d be the last one to claim it is all fun, that wasn’t my point. My point is that even the icky parts are part of a package that is more important than anything anyone ever does for a paycheck.

    (FYI, My husband wipes bottoms in a much more nurturing way than I do.)

  74. Kristine–

    Of course you are right–for the very small minority of people whose jobs even occasionally enter the neighborhood called ‘personally fulfulling.’ For everyone else, this is elitist nonsense.

    You know we’d beat down any man who entered one of our conversations about this if he said something like, “You ladies just don’t realize how hard/boring/mindnumbing it is to deal with whiny customers/do document review/write charts, etc.” But you are doing the same thing about motherhood. I’d be the last one to claim it is all fun, that wasn’t my point. My point is that even the icky parts are part of a package that is more important than anything anyone ever does for a paycheck.

    (FYI, My husband wipes bottoms in a much more nurturing way than I do.)

  75. Melissa,

    You should have let me know this earlier — it seems like I’m always running into chefs and novelists and personal trainers who are complaining to me, “If only I knew a nice multilingual Mormon woman who knew how to bake a great chocolate mascarpone cheesecake. . .”

    Well, going forward, I’ll keep my eyes open for you.


  76. Melissa, the trouble with the kind of job-sharing you flexibility you suggest is the fact that the intensive training period of nearly all professions (including not only formal schooling but the first five or more years of work)–indeed, I can’t think of a single exception–coincides precisely with the biological period of childbearing and the work-intensive period of young preschool children. This timing problem could be alleviated if younger women married older men who were beyond this stage in their careers, but this would introduce a whole new set of financial and social inequities into the marriage. Alternatively, one partner could delay training and entry until after the other had finished–and this has proved a workable strategy for many couples–but the risks are high that the delayed partner will suffer professionally.After the professional dues are paid up front, I can envision the sort of arrangement you describe. (Indeed, I have spent many long and painful hours imagining in great detail that sort of arrangement.) But for nearly all the socially-valued professions, there is no “slow track” during the training period–nor could such a track practically exist, since that would extend the training period past the point of absurdity, in fields like medicine.

  77. “If only I knew a nice multilingual Mormon woman who knew how to bake a great chocolate mascarpone cheesecake. . .”

    Yes, Kaimi, I’m sure that such complaints abound ;)

  78. Melissa, I think the reality of our world and our economy is that very, very few people could do the time sharing you ascribe. Given that reality (and perhaps you’ll disagree it is the reality) then the question becomes, what would the conflict be if such a time sharing was impossible?

    Now you may dislike the answer, but I’m reasonably sure that the vast majority of men would think that it is more important for the mother to be at home than the father, especially given the teachings of the prophets on the matter. I think that’s a reasonable thing to enter into the calculus of dating – whether a woman is likely to be satisfied with that arrangement. If she isn’t then there is likely to be big conflict for most men.

  79. Rosalynde,

    The challenges you cite are real and foreboding. I don’t mean to suggest that there are simple answers, especially since the problem is systemic in our society.

    I do think, however, it is possible to have children very young and quickly and then move into one’s profession in one’s thirites. I also think it is possible to work hard in one’s profession for ten years delaying childbearing into one’s thirties. If you want 7 children this would be tricky, but I think entirely manageable if you only want 2-4 children. Based on my research most Mormon women of our generation do not plan to have more than this any way.

    At the very least, I wish that more men would be willing to start having the conversation.

    (I must acknowledge that it is always easier from an outside vantage point to make suggestions or offer solutions. Since I do not have children, I admit to being the least qualified person to discuss this particular topic)

  80. I’ve been away from the conversation, but I saw that Melissa responded to me way back at Comment 47.

    Melissa, you asked, “Why should moving to Boston (to use your example) for school or work mean that marriage isn’t a top priority?”

    To clarify, I said only that a person determined to move to Boston shows that marrying isn’t their top priority. If they meet a potential mate who’s only a sophomore, or in their first year of law school, the determined person would go to Boston anyway, stranding potential relationships in order to pursue the priorities that matter more than spending time to know or accomodate promising prospects. The second reason is because moving strains relationships. Someone who moves to a new state every couple of weeks would have a very hard time building relationships that could lead to marriage, and moving to a new state every of couple years has some of the same problems, though less severe. (The periods before and after moves aren’t conducive to fostering committed relationships.)

    Determined, less-flexible men can marry more easily than can determined, less-flexible women only because there is a larger class of more-flexible women. Choosing to be less-flexible and limiting potential mates to those who are also less-flexible increases the difficulty of making a match. Matches between determined, less-flexible people are less common because there are more obstacles to their success.

  81. Melissa, having my first child I’ll say I’m frankly shocked at the amount of attention they require. I honestly don’t know how people who have kids in college do it. Let alone single parent families or where both parents work. Maybe it gets easier when the kid gets a little older.

    The thing about after the kids are a little older and off at school is a good one. I fully think women ought to work then. However there is then that gap of about a decade for most families. That makes finding an excellent job rather difficult. Once again the realities of taking extensive time off sets in.

  82. In 2002, 5,524 people were killed on the job in America. Guess how many of them were men? 3,000? 4,000? The count was 5,083, or 23 out of every 25 deaths. This is a little something I think about when topics like this come up. Of course, I am little off topic since the topic is powerful women. However, full employment and marriage equity would kill women less powerful than them. My preference is for men to do the dying.


  83. more important does not (alas) necessarily equal more fulfilling.

    Kristine, I see things more along the lines outlined by Julie: all jobs, like parenting, have high drudgery quotients. What are the trivial and inconsequential things you find fulfilling?

    I foresee for you, Kristine, a promising career as a job counselor. “Of course you’re job’s meaningless, but it’s so fulfilling!” : ) I really could have used you when I was writing FCC applications at my law firm. Project Description: Write a 15 page narrative on why it is in the public interest to allow Motorola to reposition it’s satellite one-tenth of one degree, given the consensus that this will prolong the satellite’s useful life by 60 days and will not interfere with other satellites.

  84. Matt,

    We seem to be talking in circles, a bit.

    You write,

    “Determined, less-flexible men can marry more easily than can determined, less-flexible women only because there is a larger class of more-flexible women.”

    I actually don’t think that this is the “only” reason. But, even if it is an accurate description, it doesn’t mean that it is a *good* thing. I think that it is too bad that there aren’t more men who are willing to be more flexible. If there were, there might be more women who feel like they could choose paths that would leave them more inflexible without damaging their marriageability—-(where “inflexibility” means committed to a certain career path, geographic location, etc.) You neglect to acknowledge that there may be a “larger class of more flexible women” precisely because men have been unwilling to be more flexible themselves (where “flexibility” means willing to negotiate, etc.) You make it seem like there aren’t any cultural or sociological factors at play in the decisions that women make which leave them “flexible” or “inflexible.”

    Clark, I think the first baby is a shock, but that it gets easier once you get into a routine. Again though, I’m speaking as the oldest child of eleven, not as a parent—which makes me far from being an expert

  85. Melissa, I was reading through the comments and saw you mention that your parents raised 11 kids while both working full-time. How did they make it work? (This would be an interesting post on its own.)

  86. Melissa, it gets temporarily easier with a routine, but then someone gets sick, someone starts to toilet train, someone quits taking naps, someone gets born, and your routine is shot to heck, and you get to start a new one.

  87. I’m starting to imbibe Bob Dylan music and lyrics on a regular basis and there’s a line that this thread is reminding me of for some reason. Probably because of this talk about subordinates. The line is from the song It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry. The lyric line is:

    Well, I wanna be your lover, baby, I don’t wanna be your boss.

    The way Dylan delivers that line … I just love it. Very romantic and very true too (as a principle).

  88. The only problem with Dylan (as with most other prophets of the “enlightenment”), is that he has to take a vice to an extreme in order to make a point. And, I think that’s the problem with this whole conversation. We’re out on the extreme edge doing our little elitist sword play while in the middle the majority is working from sun up to sun down in a rice field. I don’t think we’re gonna hear too much squabbling between the sexes about career fullfillment when both have to put in a backbreaking effort just to scrape together the necessities.

  89. Danithew,

    …nothing personal in that last comment. On the whole, I love the music of the “prophets”.

  90. Just to second Julie, one is constantly having to re-establish routines. And if you have to be at work at 8 then staying up all night with a sick baby really plays havoc with your job performance. Do it a few times in a row… And you quickly see how homemaker is a fulltime position. (Of either sex) Even with a full time homemaker I don’t see how they could do it on their own without going nutso. As I said, I honestly don’t know how single moms do it.

  91. I’ll try to summarize my perspective (as a single man 10+ years into his career), given the many directions this thread has taken…

    1. Husband and wife need to work together to care for and raise their children.
    2. Husband and wife should support each other in using their individual talents and pursuing opportunities for renewal and development. (In this regard, I think that men really can do much more than we have to accommodate women’s desires.)
    3. I take “divine design” seriously, with fathers responsible to provide the necessities and mothers primarily responsible for nurture (“primarily”, not “exclusively”, of course!). For most couples who agree with this aspect of “The Family” proclamation, the reality is that the wife will need to considerably curtail or postpone career pursuits while the two raise children. Likewise, the husband should focus on his family while providing adequately for them, rather than leave home duties to the wife while he seeks “the honors of men”.

    I love this thoughtful gem from a successful LDS woman who is now a professor, but raised children while she slowly worked toward a graduate degree: “Follow your dreams, but do it a little bit at a time!”

    As for the original question about the kind of wife an LDS man wants… I hope that my future wife is at least my intellectual equal and has at least a college degree. A Ph.D. and career success are great, but I certainly would prefer someone who is not fixed and determined to keep blazing forward in that career when we begin a family. As a practical matter, since there are many single LDS women who would gladly trade in their careers for family life (at least for a decade or more), I don’t feel a need to go to great lengths to try to work out a super-creative solution for a woman who feels that she can “have it all” at the same time.

    If I am honest about my own patterns, I’m subconsciously partial to women that choose fields like education, social work, or nursing, where their training is quite applicable to family life. Or I’m just as drawn to women who find fulfillment in creative endeavors like music, art, or writing, which can be pursued without extensive time commitments away from home; or a physicist or academic or whatever who wants to set the career aside when she has an opportunity to begin a family.

    I doubt I’m the only LDS single man with a graduate degree who admires real examples like these:
    1. A woman with a Ph.D. in music chose to stay home when she and her husband had children. Now that the children are grown, she’s quite involved again in music education.
    2. On my first job, a woman headed the engineering group. At her retirement, I learned that she had spent many years at home raising her kids before she returned to work. During the child-raising years she enjoyed astronomy and optics experiments with the kids.

    I guess it boils down to this. A “powerful woman” (i.e. intelligent, devoted, competent in her field) who puts family first is a gem that many LDS men seek. However, if a woman (or a man) feels that they must attain the top tier in their field to be “powerful”, this will turn off many potential suitors.

  92. Melissa,

    I completely agree that there are many sociological factors at play, I was only offering an explanation. If society equally encouraged men and women to excel professionally at the expense of opportunities to form committed relationships, then it would become equally hard for determined men and determined women to marry. The sociological facts, however, are based largely on the biological facts of females-only pregnancy and females-only nursing, which make it generally more feasible for a woman to be the parent who dedicates her career to child rearing. Because of this biological advantage, more women than men dedicate themselves to this career.

    Because children can be reared in many parts of the world, people with career aspirations to parent tend to have exceptional geographic flexibility, giving them a large pool of potential mates.

    I’m still very interested to learn how your parents raised 11 kids while working full-time. If it’s possible in a family that size, it seems the rest of us with fewer kids should be able to figure it out.

  93. Several, especially Julie, seem to have presented the issue a little more from the point of view of the needs of a child. An addition to this line of thought…

    One of my daughters works as a councilor in a residential school for disturbed kids. The vast majority of those kids come from affluent, two career homes on the East or West coasts. Their parents, with their powerful careers may think that they have worked out the perfect arrangement between themselves. The kids may have another take on this “arrangement.” Kids are not stupid. They know when they are being viewed as a inpediment to the career success of parents. Out sourcing of child rearing can sometimes come with some pretty heavy costs for kids. Part of the therepy for the kids is counciling that includes the parents (usually via telephone with the distant parents). The biggest obstacles she faces in helping to turn the kids around are the priorities of the parents.

    And these are the problems for the teenagers… that time when kids no longer need a focused parent in the home, so that now both parents can go off to their own careers with no guilt and no consequences for the kids.

  94. Matt,

    I’m swamped today so I can’t give a detailed answer right now (perhaps I’ll write a post on this later) but I will say that I think the number one reason my parents have been able to do what they’ve done is my Dad’s attitude on childraising and housework. My Dad chose a line of work which would allow him to work full-time but be at home full-time for his kids. He’s also always considered every job around the house as much his responsibility to fulfill as anyone’s. There are major sacrifices that were made in order for both my parents to be able to pursue meaningful careerrs but still be home for us. For example, I don’t think my Dad has ever slept more than 5 hours a night his whole married life. My parents don’t drive expensive cars or buy nice clothes for themselves. My siblings and I have all felt the pinch in various ways over the years too. My parents are both very bright, have advanced graduate degrees and they could have done something more lucrative that would have taken them away from us. But, they wanted to find a way to pursue their dreams but also be at home with us. They’ve always worked really hard to make that happen. They are both imperfect people and have made lots (and I mean lots!!) of mistakes as parents, but they’ve done a lot of things right too. As I’ve indicated, I personallly think the most important factor in their success is my Dad’s strong commitment to my Mother’s happiness and to actively nurturing fatherhood. He never want to be left out of anything! :)

    It is so easy to frown on women who think they can “have it all” calling them unrealistic or unwilling to sacrifice. But, there are important elements that are overlooked when things are described in this way. My mother would have ceased to exist if she couldn’t have worked all those years. I’m not being dramatic! She would have ceased to be what she is, would have withered and died inside. We would have lost her in a very real sense. My Dad’s deep respect and admiration for her goals and her talents has always motivated him to ensure their fulfillment even at high costs like never making a lot of money. My parents are both professionally successful (here I introduce another distinction between professional success and financial success, which I suppose I will have to discuss at greater length later too) but my Mom has definitely been more of a leader in her career. The up side for the whole family was that my Mom is really happy, my parents have the best marriage I’ve ever seen and my Dad was always there for us. (I think most LDS children in families where the Mom stays home and the Dad works, don’t actually know their fathers well).

    There’s a lot more to say, but will that do for a first installment, Matt?

  95. I should also point out that the whole family had to work together to make this happen. Each child always had important responsibilities around the house and duties to each other for which we were accountable. We had to trust and rely on each other. I promise to post on this at greater length when my next prelim exam is over in a couple of weeks, but for now I *have* to abandon this thread. Sorry!

  96. RG, I will be first to follow you into battle for viewing these issues primarily through the lens of children’s needs. I’m home with my kids precisely because I think they should come first in the calculus.

    Nonetheless, I think it’s probably unwise to generalize too much from the experiences of kids whose family pathology necessitates their placement in residential schools–for every one that ends up there, there are probably 1000 children from similar family arrangements doing just fine. I’m also extremely skeptical of any argument that suggests a geographical limit to the occurrence of troubled kids and families.

  97. I don’t think women who feel they can have it all are being unrealistic, anymore than men who think that are. However I think that realistically both Mormon men and women often are waiting for the perfect spouse and thereby turning down a lot of healthy relationships they could be in. They then find themselves older with far fewer options available feeling bad for themselves.

  98. Sheesh, I think Melissa may have answered her own question:

    If marrying a professional woman means signing on to never get more than five hours of sleep per night for years on end, how many men can we expect to do that?

    I don’t want to turn this into a referendum on Melissa’s family of origin (who I will assume acted under inspiration appropriate to their family, communicated and reached decisions everyone was happy with, etc.), but in general, the sacrifices that are required by two income families boggle the mind.

  99. For some reason RG’s comment reminded me of Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Actually I think that movie is a lighthearted take on what spoiled, neglected and unsupervised kids do when their professional parents aren’t around. I’m not condemning the movie. I’m simply realizing now why my aunt wouldn’t let me bring her kids to see that years ago. She was taking it personally.

    Of course a lot worse can happen than kids skipping school for a day and lip-synching Twist-and-Shout on a parade float, as RG seems to be pointing out.

  100. Julie, I agree. Most people acknowledge the personal benefits that accrue to women who work outside the home but decry the societal costs. I see it in precisely the opposite light: I think there are great societal benefits to women working outside the home (though of course there are social costs, as well), but the personal cost of the working mother lifestyle is simply too high for me.

    (Though this is not to say that the decision to stay home has been painless, or that I don’t look forward to a phase in life where circumstances may be different.)

  101. Okay, I’m back—–but just to say to Julie that marrying a professional woman does not necessarily mean “signing on to never get more than five hours of sleep per night for years on end.”

    My family’s situation was unique. I don’t think most professional woman plan to raise 11 children. Things would likely have been very different for my parents had there only been 5 or 6 children. Since most women only have 2-4 children (which is now closer to the norm even in LDS families) this sort of scenario is even more plausible for some couples.

  102. Where I work, a job option has arisen where a person can handle accounts from home. My desk is near the supervisor’s office and it’s been interesting to see how many young mothers have been in line for the job interview.

  103. of course that’s true melissa but the larger point that i was trying to make is that there seems to be some surprise on this thread that men ,lds or otherwise, don’t want to marry ‘career’ women. but to me this seems a logical position based on the added work load it would bring them. forgive typing with one hand,.

  104. Answers:

    But, what if your wife were better educated than you?

    My wife is better educated than me, but I have a more prestigious career. It was initially a setback for us but she saw I was reliable in other ways and offset it.

    What if your wife consistently made more money than you or had a more prestigious position than you?

    I personally wouldn’t have a problem with it, but I worry that my wife might. Every woman I’ve ever dated expected the man to be a breadwinner. I don’t know of a single househusband.

    When you were dating (or if you still are) were (are) you attracted to women who had (have) ambitious professional goals?

    I did date such women but it didn’t work out. The women weren’t serious about having a relationship and if they were, no kidding, they talked about children the whole time. This worried me they might squeeze out a kid and take off. (My mother even remarked she thinks one did just that in secret to me. I haven’t heard anything since so (knock on wood) I think I’m safe.

    Is intellectual parity less threatening than professional parity? If so, why?

    There’s an implied joke here: If she truly is very intellectual and intelligent, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Many very educated people (including men) tend to lack common sense and dating and social skills.

    The study suggests that “expressions of vulnerablity enhance female attractiveness.” Is this more true, less true or not true for Mormon men as a group?

    I don’t know about Mormons. I will say that it makes the women more approachable and “easy” which men tend to find attractive despite harlequan and cosmo’s claims to the contrary. What makes powerful women threatening is that they use it indiscriminately similar to men having a new BBQ and feeling they should drag it out even if it’s 10 below outside. My wife realizes that she can often be nasty precisely when I’m least able to handle it (such as being crabby just after I have have had a hard day at work.) I don’t know of men, having a choice, choosing to start an argument with a woman precisely at the moment she’s least likely to be rational.

  105. Melissa,

    I am curious why the Brethren seem so oblivious to the truths of equal parenting and non-mother careers you discuss. They seem to be giving people in the Church the impression that the man should be the primary breadwinner and the woman should be primarily the nurturer, though recognizing that financial circumstances may preclude this. I know lots of people who think that is what the Proclamation says. In fact, it’s what I think the Proclamation says.

    Why do they keep saying things that make me and other members (male and female) think that there should be gender divisions in responsibility and behavior? Are they not really saying that but I keep misinterpreting them?
    It isn’t like they’ve made just one off-hand comment here or there. The importance of mothers in the home has been reiterated consistently for decades. What am I not seeing?

    Or are they wrong? Do they not understand something that you (and Kristine ?) do? Or maybe their counsel only applies to some people, but not women who want to have careers, and they, what?, forgot to mention it?

    If you think they are just being unclear, you might want to write them a letter and tell them they need to be much clearer about how there is no divine preference for men to be the breadwinner. If you think you are right about what God wants and they are wrong, well, that is your prerogative, but it is not one you are likely to be happy with.

    Alternatively, you may be wrong and they are right and it really is important for men to be the primary breadwinners and that women should stay home with their children. I think that would be the humblest position to take. I pray each of us (me included) will always have the strength to do so.

  106. I’m sure there have been other posts where people try to parse the language of the proclamation on the family. I’ll simple say that I agree with Frank in his reading that fathers are primarily responsible for providing and mothers are primarily responsible for nurturing. To me this does not rule out the need for secondary accountability. Indeed, the proclamation also states that mothers and fathers must help each other in both of these areas as equal partners. I don’t see how Melissa’s inquiries go against this.

  107. Matt,

    By career ambitious, I am envisioning what it takes to get ahead in a competitive career, such as trying to get tenured or make partner. This is usually somewhere north of 50 hours/week time commitment. Is that what you consider consistent with the Proclamation or are you thinking of more modest (less “ambitious”) career goals?

    If a man is working 20 hours/week and his wife is working 50 you consider this to be fulfilling the injunction that the man be primarily responsible for providing for the family? If they both work 50, do you consider that to be a good way to raise children?

    Many people would answer, based on their reading of General Conference and the Proclamation, that barring unusual cirsumstances, no/no. Those same people, male and female, are the ones that make it hard for non-mother career ambitious women to get married, because the men and women answering no/no would, in general, rather marry each other than that woman. Are they wrong to do so?

    You may disagree with their interpretation and say these people are misinterpreting, but if so, why are the Brethren making such misleading statements? Why say the man is repossible for providing if you don’t mean something by that? A weak interpretation makes the passage contentless in terms of its restrictions on behavior. It also makes it harder to reconcile with other prophetic counsel. If you wish to view it that way, it is your choice. But it cannot be surprising that many people feel differently.

  108. I think you’re exactly right, Frank, but let’s cool it a little. I think we can all agree that Melissa and Kristine are aweful, scoundrelish heretics–at least I can :) –without belaboring the point.

  109. Frank –

    Yes, many members read the proclamation in just the way you described. I am not surprised. That’s pretty much how my wife and I are leading our lives right now. However, I do believe that there are ways for women to have successful careers in competetive fields that are still consistent with happy families. Without a doubt that will require some long-term planning, commitment, and sacrifice on her part and the part of her husband. A few comments in this thread addressed how this could be done, which I found helpful. Melissa’s own family is a pretty interesting example, and I would like to here more details.

    My understanding is that the post was partly about Melissa lamenting the fact that not very many LDS men are willing to have this conversation. Not surprising. I disagree with the impression I got from your comment that it is wrong to even have the conversation in the first place.

  110. Here’s another interesting source in line with the #108 citation about women in academia.
    (or if you can’t access that, try

    This piece in Science Magazine discusses the tenure clock, and how many women are afraid to turn off the tenure clock for fear that tenure review committees will look upon it unfavorably, even though they technically should not. I would hope that it works better in practice in the future, as I see it as a wonderful option for family-oriented academics. One biologist said that she adds her child’s name and birthdate in her chronology list of publications!

  111. Frank, how is it humble for you to justify your own life choices and condemn others’ by marshalling “the Brethren” to your cause and putting forward your interpretation–and yes, it is your interpretation, and it may be shared by a smaller majority than you claim–as naturalized truth?

  112. Matt, whether or not to have such a “conversation” obviously depends on one’s goals and priorities. Beyond that, I think I will take Adam’s advice and not belabor the point further. I think we probably understand each other’s view pretty well.

  113. Frank,

    The Proclamation section you cite reads, in relevant part:

    By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.

    Some questions for you, if you’re certain of your own interpretation, might include:

    -What exactly does “help one another as equal partners” mean? (It is clearly in the context of both breadwinning and childrearing).
    -What are the “other circumstances” which might “necessaitate individual adaptation” and what kinds of adaptations might these be?

  114. Rosalynde-

    I’m not sure that, by your standard, anyone could ever be humble while advancing an interpretation supported by the Brethren.

    (And I didn’t see him ‘condemning,’ I saw him asking questions.)

  115. My goodness, Frank! Your comment almost comes across as a rebuke, a veritable call to repentance! This, of course, is entirely unnecessary since I personally haven’t left a houseful of children in the care of a nanny, nor do I intend to do so. Still, except for the dripping sarcasm and undisguised hostility in your comments, I should thank you for providing a quite representative example of what I previously described as the ecclesiastical objection. I think your comment (which may not entirely correspond of your actual view) exemplifies a sort of opinion that can be oppressive to women. Not only does this sort of opinion narrowly prescribe the sort of life a woman ought to seek but it is also strongly condemnatory of other worthy choices she may make.

    Your comment raises a lot of questions implicitly, each of which require a lengthy discussion, none of which I can explore now. But, I will list them for others to discuss if they so choose.

    1. What is the proper interpretation of the Proclamation?

    2. Who decides how to interpret the Proclamation?

    3. Is the Proclamation scripture?

    4. Even if the Proclamation is not scripture, does it/should it have normative status for Latter-day Saints?

    5. If it is normative, what are the reasons we take it to be so? Is there a principle that makes it normative that can be consistently applied?

    6. Assuming that the Proclamation is normative, what does that normativity require of us? (this is still a hermeneutical question)

    7. Is the Proclamation doctrinal? Does it reflect eternal or everlasting truths? (This seems immediately problematic since the sharp division of labor into domestic/industry, private/public is a fairly recent development in the history of the world—really since the industrial revolution. Think Moses 5:1 here.)

    And so forth . . .

  116. Rosalynde,

    Let me be more exact, because I think my sloppy phrasing has caused a communication problem. I am putting forth the “humble” approach only if one thinks one is right and the brethren wrong. If you disagree with the prophet, I am saying it takes humility to change course anyway.

    If you think that you are in accordance with the prophet, but that the problem comes from people misinterpreting the prophet, which was another option I presented, then humility is to do as you are doing and seek clarity so that other’s may come to recognize the truth as you do.

    Melissa may feel as Mark Jacobsen does that full-time careerism for women who are so inclined is correctly interpreting the prophetic counsel. Or she may think the counsel is to stay home, but that that counsel is wrong. Or maybe she believes something else entirely.

    From your post, perhaps you take the first position, of misinterpretation. If so, I have explained in the above posts why I find that to be a stretch. But I don’t think I ever claimed it as naturalized truth, nor did I intend to claim that disagreeing with me on interpretation was a lack of humility. Rather that disagreeing with prophetic counsel (once interpretation is resolved) shows a lack of humility. I can see how the phrasing in my post might have confused you though.

  117. Melissa–

    While all of your questions about the Proc. are interesting, I think you would agree with me that the Proc. is not exactly far out in left field in terms of what prophets and apostles generally teach on the subject.

    Therefore, all of your questions about the _nature_ of the Proc. (while interesting and valid) are ignoring the larger issues than Frank raised about the _content_ of the Proc.

    In other words, I think you are avoiding the issues.

  118. Frank wrote, “Or are they wrong? Do they not understand something that you (and Kristine ?) do? Or maybe their counsel only applies to some people, but not women who want to have careers, and they, what?, forgot to mention it? If you think they are just being unclear, you might want to write them a letter and tell them they need to be much clearer about how there is no divine preference for men to be the breadwinner. If you think you are right about what God wants and they are wrong, well, that is your prerogative, but it is not one you are likely to be happy with.”

    There are a few questions in there, Julie, but I’m not sure Frank is truly interested in the answers, as his withdrawal suggests. And you may well be right that, when engaged in personal polemic, it can be nearly impossible to throw the Brethren at your opponent with humility. This is not to say that priesthood counsel has no place in the discussion–indeed, I wrote a post some time ago discussing in some detail how it has shaped my positions and life choices–but it’s rarely a useful tactic when it’s cited heatedly and judgmentally.

  119. Maybe I totally misread his tone, Rosalynde, but I saw Frank asking genuine questions, not being snarky.


  120. Thanks, Frank, for re-engaging and clarifying. I stand by my position on the value of “the Brethren” as a rhetorical–not a doctrinal–tactic, but I (humbly :)) withdraw the snarkiness of my #125.

  121. (but still maintain that there was a modicum of snarkiness in Frank’s tone, even if he wasn’t claiming humility for himself)

  122. I don’t think it’s avoiding the issues to point to the fact that the paragraph which Frank has strongly interpreted as supporting his position, and condemning Melissa’s (and parenthetically mine), is completely inscrutable. The most common interpretation is the one Frank is making, but it by no means follows unequivocally from the text itself. Indeed the paragraph on gender roles is a masterpiece of ambiguity–“obligated to help one another as equal partners” is a perfect an elastic clause as there ever was, and it’s followed up with another one: “disability, death or other circumstances [not otherwise specified!] may necessitate individual adaptation.” The interpretive possibilities for this paragraph are as broad as anybody wants to make them, as Melissa has pointed out.

  123. Julie,

    Mmm. I hardly think that my active participation in this conversation could be construed as avoiding the issues. I am hindered from responding fully because of other responsibilities at the moment.

    As a brief response, I will say that the counsel to get as much education as you can and to seek personal revelation about the course of one’s life are at least as common elements in prophetic discourse as the idea that mothers are responsible to nurture their children so I think that the “issues” that Frank raises are non-issues without the other questions I raise about the Proclamation being explored.

    And just to be clear, I have never stated that women with children shouldn’t be actively involved in mothering. From my perspective that’s obvious, and not really what this conversation is about.

  124. I’ve been absent from this conversation since my comment #12, in part because I didn’t think I had anything more to say about the reasons for the phenomenon discussed by Ms. Dowd. But I’m glad the thread flared up again, because there is something I’d like to say about a response this thread has generated in me.

    I’m ashamed to admit it, but reading various womens’ responses here is the first time the plight that some women face has sunk into me with emotional force. Take, for example, Melissa and Rosalynde, two women of obviously superior intellect and talent: one turned down proposals from men who couldn’t accept her ambitions, leaving her without a family for now; the other is choosing to have a family at a young age, and in the process accepted a lesser graduate school and then put her professional development on hold.

    I can hardly imagine having to make that choice, but trying to conceive having to make it renders me a quivering gelatinous mass. I count myself blessed to have both a family and and an unfettered opportunity to do my best to achieve professionally/academically—even though my talent seems less worthy of this opportunity than either Melissa or Rosalynde, and something doesn’t seem quite right about that.

    But I have to say more, delicately, if I can, to complete my response… I didn’t have to make that choice because I married someone whose principal ambition is to stay at home with our children. (She even tells me it’s her right and expectation to never have to work outside the home, even after they’re gone!) She is quite capable—currently Relief Society president in our ward, for instance—but I think it’s fair to say that she never would have, for example, pursued a Ph.D., even if she were single.

    And while it’s tacky to bring up costs to men here, I will anyway because it’s part of my response, for better or worse. :) Men who choose as I describe at the end of my #12 will simply not have the opportunity day in and day out to, say, learn about the social construction of gender from across the dinner table, or be enlightened about the scriptures from the original Greek and Hebrew from a few inches away in bed.

    What I’m trying to say is that while there’s no question that intelligent women end up making most of the sacrifices for our current perspectives on marriage and family, men can also experience palpable losses as a result of choices made in service of those perspectives.

    I have some more thoughts about possible remedies, but I’d better get back to professional ambition now. :)

  125. Melissa, regarding the whole question of whether the proclamation is doctrinal. I’d suggest that doctrinal need not be tied to “eternal.” For instance I think the Word of Wisdom health requirements are doctrinal. I don’t think they are eternal in the sense of applying to all times and peoples anymore than the Law of Moses requirements were. I recognize people want to make distinctions based upon this question of “eternal” but I’m not sure it is that helpful a way of thinking about it.

    Regarding the proclamation, I rather suspect that it is targeted for a particular place or time. However I’m not sure that is that significant a recognition since it is our place and time to which it is clearly targeted. Presumably when society has significantly changed the revelations may change. But that hasn’t happened yet so as a practical matter it seems we are bound by the proclamation.

  126. Oops, I said I hadn’t commented since #12, but then I remembered #16. And to turn a line from my #16 its head to make my last point in #138 more explicitly: Sometimes it would be nice to find someone with the intellect to make you care what they look like.

    (Is that a record for referring to one’s own comments? I’m new to this blog thing, but I can imagine it must be tacky and frowned upon…I’m wondering if it’s a symptom of a sad disease whose only cure is getting one’s own blog?! ;) )

  127. Thank you for that, Christian. I think men are often unwilling or disinclined to consider the full costs of the tradeoff they ask women to make, or somewhat horrified at what they find if they do; this may account, in part, for the sentimental paeans to motherhood that attempt to diminish the cost by artificially inflating the emotional rewards of motherhood. (Women who have already sacrificed much for their children are often prone to this, as well.)

    Discussions of gender roles soon become boring, because it’s nearly impossible, given the high personal and emotional investment each person has in his or her family conditions, to avoid merely defending one’s own arrangement–no matter how that arrangement was reached. I’m as complicit in this as anyone else, of course.

    I think your comments speak to the more interesting problem of the personal costs of marriage relationships, rather than the roles in which those relationships are played out. It would certainly provoke an avalanche of defensive rebuttals, but I’d like to post a long preachy harangue on why smart men *should* marry smart women.

  128. I am very conscious of the sacrifices Sumer made when marrying me (yes, yes, snicker, ye philistines). But let me share a few examples of how, even without children, a powerful woman has given up opportunities because of spousal commitment.

    — I married Sumer just when she was 20; she had been planning to serve a mission, and had prepared herself for that goal. By marrying me, she permanently abandoned that goal (please don’t patronize her by saying that seniors’ missions are just as good).

    — We then moved to New York for me to attend law school. Sumer was a pre-med student, but financial necessities required us to choose law school first. Deep down, we knew that meant putting off medical school indefinitely.

    — We moved to Paris for two years for me to study law. Sumer gave up a promising job at a Wall Street bank for this, a permanent dent in professional aspirations.

    — I now find myself looking to move forward in my career: a change of locale, or of lifestyle. Will this mean that Sumer quits her newly re-established career? Perhaps.

    Now, with these experiences I’d like to make a couple of observations. First, nothing required Sumer to make these choices. These were mutual decisions, and nowhere in the Church or otherwise is there the authority for me to make these decisions by fiat. She chose these things out of love, and out of a realistic cost-benefit analysis for both of us.

    Second, I don’t know that I would make the same sacrifices for her. I like to think that I would, but I just don’t know. In the meantime, all I can do is be profoundly grateful that someone with such potential has chosen to invest some of it in my career. All I can really do I give respect and wonder to women who give up so much for unworthy men and the possibility of family.

    Thus, the question, “are powerful women at a disadvantage?” remains without a real answer, but in my personal dealings with powerful women I have seen clarity of thought and courageous decision-making that would seem to overpower external constraints or expectations.

  129. Christian,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reflections and kind words. I wholeheartedly agree that “men can also experience palpable losses as a result of choices made in service of those perspectives”

  130. Kristine–

    While I agree with you about the ambiguity of said paragraph, it is still true that Frank raises issues that Melissa ignored since she only focused on the ambiguity of the Proc., and ignored all of the very unambiguous doctrine behind it.


    I think you missed my point. Your original response to Frank focused only on problems with interpreting the Proc. as if there weren’t about 9000 statements in General Conference that I could point to that confirm the basic idea that mothers need to be with their children. You still haven’t addressed his questions.

    Before we commit the reductio ad personal revelation, the fact that certain women have and will be inspired to work full time when their children are young doesn’t change the basic premise: mothering young children and working full time are generally incompatible.

  131. Julie, I don’t think there is any unambiguous doctrine about whether mothers have to stay at home full-time with their children. There are lots of paeans to mothers who do, and there are lots of statements by general authorities who find this arrangement preferable, but there are precious few attempts to ground that preference in anything doctrinal.

  132. Wow, I go away to have a little personal crisis and look at all this interesting debate. I wish I was smart enough to have some great insight that would blow all your minds but I’m not.

    I never really know how to reconcile the fact that I’m living the Proclamation to the letter, by anyone’s standards, with the fact that I just hate it. That’s right folks, I’m not going to tip toe around this one. I hate the damn Proclamation thing with a vengence. It gives me a nose bleed just to think about it.

    Now isn’t that deep and weighty and thoughtful of me? I rather think so.

  133. Really? We can debate whether it is a good idea, whether we like the idea, but I think you would be hard-pressed to find a single statement from a GA suggesting that a mother of young children working full time is preferable to part time or no outside work. Can you find one?

    Let’s not enter the pit of ‘what constitutes doctrine’ (‘nailing jello to a wall’), but how many GAs have to say it is preferable before it is doctrine.

  134. Julie,

    I don’t think that there is “very unambiguous doctrine” behind the ambiguity of the Proclamation.

    I disagree with the premise: “mothering young children and working full time are generally incompatible.” I’ve tried to make clear that I think compatibility is possible (I’ve seen it and lived it) but depends largely on the attitudes of the husband/father on a plethora of issues.

    I know I keep saying that I’m done here. But, this really is my last comment on this thread because I’m leaving my computer for the afternoon.

    Steve Evans,

    That was the finest post I’ve ever seen from you in all of your blogging career.

  135. Why, Lisa? Specify what you don’t like.

    And, sorry for your ‘little personal crisis.’ We’re all praying for you.

  136. “I’d like to post a long preachy harangue on why smart men *should* marry smart women.”

    Personally I think that at a certain point we ought concern ourselves with what qualities we want in a person than in terms of what qualities a spouse ought have. (i.e. testimony, etc.) There is a tendency I’ve noticed within myself at times and which is very common here in Utah to have a checklist mentality toward marriage. This is almost as bad, in my opinion, as the view that there must be some huge significant enrapture to justify a relationship. One is the overly rational perspective while the other is the too romantic perspective. Both can lead to heartache and typically involve being way too picky.

    Date lots of people and marry the one you fall in love with. At a certain point destroy the lists.

    Marriage isn’t about a eugenics breeding experience nor is it purely about our needs. Sometimes we don’t recognize that until after we’re married.

  137. Melissa (I trust that you’ll read this someday . . .)

    I wrote that “mothering young children and working full time are generally incompatible.”

    I want to tweak that a little before I defend that:

    (1) a full-time father would make this possible. (I have no problem with this being done by a couple who has prayerfully chosen this route)
    (2) lots of things *can* be done, but the cost isn’t worth it

    That said, I have found that high-achieving people tend to grossly underestimate what is involved with caring for children, probably because all of their lives, people have been telling them how hard things (algebra, grad school, a first job, etc.) will be, and they’ve been wrong.

    Let’s assume a husband and wife each like to sleep for eight hours. Let’s be reeeally generous and assume their children do, too (Kris and Ros are probably howling with laughter at this point). We now have sixteen hours for everyone to work. Let’s say each spouse is able to work at their prestigious, highly paid, and fulfilling career, for only 8 hours. So Mom can be home for 8 hours with the kids, Dad for 8 hours, and everything is great.

    (Assuming the jobs are conpletely flexible, with zero commute time, and no one wants to eat, shower, buy groceries, go visit teaching, or talk to his/her spouse.)

    It really isn’t my intention to be snarky, but I honestly don’t see how there are enough hours in the day.

  138. Julie, I think that’s a good cost-effective solution for couples who want to be separated. That way they can share the same house but never have to interact with each other. :)

  139. Rosalynde, I agree, I’ve always been uncomfortable about the “sentimental paeans”; I think they’re meant with the best of intentions, but they strike me as condescending at best and demeaning at worst.

    Re discussions of gender roles: I see what you’re saying, but I think you know I wasn’t highlighting any particular subject matter, but simply fantasizing about painting a verbal picture of opportunity for daily interaction with a suitable intellectual sparring partner.

    I agree that there’s a generic phenomenon of personal costs (though I’d prefer to say trade-offs) in when and who to marry, and point out that related phenomena attend decisions on when and how many children to have. I worry that in the name of “protecting the family,”
    certain one-size-fits-all rigid prescriptions and proscriptions in Mormonism make these trade-offs worse than they really need to be.

    And, I’d like to hear the harangue, and see who gives the defensive rebuttals…I take it you’re expecting them from men? I, for one, plead guilty even before the preaching starts, and confess the autobiographical nature of my #12 (which was probably obvious in any case).

  140. One income is good. Two incomes are better. Especially high incomes. Women and men should both try to maximize earning potential.

    Note: My wife and I have not adhered to that philosophy yet, but that’s because she doesn’t buy it. Yet. Maybe I can convince her that we have enough children and that now we can focus on us for a change instead of them. She’s finally on the verge of letting us send one of our kids to regular, public school. HOORAY! Now if we can only keep that trend up. I have been trying for years to convince her that outsourcing is a good strategy so that we can both focus on getting and keeping fantastic professional careers. Her decision to homeschool was always quite enigmatic and frustrating for me- I say ship them out asap. If kids have a successful mother AND father, they have a nice ideal to emulate. And lots of money to boot! :)

    Why CAN’T more women have ambition to do more? Kids have turned out to be more trouble than they are worth. Three is plenty. Yet she still wants more, someday!!! We always disagree about this. Why can’t she focus her ambition for nutrition, homeschooling, and child-rearing, which is high ambition and hard work, into something more prestigious and profitable?

    These are questions I ask every day. I do not fear women in power. I envy their husbands.

  141. Maybe this is too tangential, but to those who express frustration at the sentimental praise heaped on motherhood, I would like to ask what would be the appropriate way to praise mothers and motherhood? How could we do this better?

  142. “sentimental paeans to motherhood that attempt to diminish the cost by artificially inflating the emotional rewards of motherhood. (Women who have already sacrificed much for their children are often prone to this, as well.)”

    This is one example of a prevalent attitude I think wrong. Certain worthwhile but toilsome endeavors look glorious in retrospect but at the time they can be fairly miserable. Motherhood, military service, and missionary work come to mind. Our typical response is to say that the misery we experience when actually doing it is real and the glorificiation afterwards isn’t. I think they’re both real and inextricably part of the experience. Nothing artificial about the way mothers think about their motherhood after it’s done.

  143. “what would be the appropriate way to praise mothers and motherhood?”

    By giving them the priesthood? Or at least giving the Relief Society some bona fide autonomy? Or something more than lip service and flowers on Mother’s Day?

  144. Steve wrote By giving them the priesthood? Or at least giving the Relief Society some bona fide autonomy? Or something more than lip service and flowers on Mother’s Day?

    If they are to be given the priesthood, are fathers to be given the ability to bear children? The latter is a biological impossibility. What makes us so sure that the former is not as well?

  145. Knowing both of you, Ryan and Adam, I doubt that either would voice the kind of paeans I’m talking about… though Adam would probably be tempted by his facility with high rhetoric. (teasing, Adam) I think the best way to honor motherhood is to engage it and its practitioners in the same kind of scrutiny and critique with which we examine other crucial social practices. Intelligent thinking about motherhood would be the most welcome paean I can imagine.

    That, and moving Mother’s Day to a weekday, making it a national holiday so fathers can be at home, and actually giving mothers a break on a day that isn’t *already* a day of rest.

  146. I realize I am jumping a bit late, but here goes nothing.

    I was off my mission about 4 years before I married. For 2.5 years of that, I dated a woman 10 years older than me, who had a college degree, was well employed, and the only child of a couple whose net worth was well over $1mil. Most of the time, I worked in a bank as a teller, with no education, and usually at less than half her salary. While I was working, I felt her equal in every way. While I was not working, I felt lke a kept man because she paid for everything.

    Now, who did I marry? My wife to be had two years of college, and was working as a receptionist in a medical practice. We were both return missionaries, which I suppose put us on a par, and we are both within 3 months of each other for birth dates. Both of our familes are middle class, her family not members of the Church, and my family mostly not active in church. Financially, she supported us while I finished trade school, and then while I eeked out a meager existence for the next 15 years, she stayed home.

    On the other hand, I have come to realize some things about my wife that makes her far superior to me. She has a voracious appetite for politics, reads Realclearpolitics every day, can carry on a conversation about politics and world events with the best of them. Her understanding of the gospel is sound and solid, and she is the go to person in our family when the kids need wisdom, or have a gospel type question.

    Where do I go for support when things go tough at work? Home! My wife is my best friend, my confidant, my support. In the words of Paul Newman “Why eat hamburger when I can go home and have steak?”

    Just an interesting aside- The other day I asked my wife where some particular item was and she referred me to a comment made by Denis Prager, perhaps the most thought provoking and rational national talk show host in the US: Wives have two purposes to husbands- find things, and give sex. Oddly, she jumped right on finding what I was looking for, but….

  147. You’re suggesting a correlation between priesthood and child-bearing, JF, so I assume you’re taking that point of view seriously. If you’re taking it seriously, I would assume that you believe it to be a true principle of doctrine.

    If you don’t think it’s a true principle of doctrine, and if you’re not taking it seriously, then it’s just a somewhat insensitive thing to say about the priesthood and about women.

  148. My husband wooed me for months, to no avail, until one fateful evening when he looked at me with perplexed consternation. “Why would you move back to Utah for a masters? You could get your PhD at one of the universities right here in Boston. I think you are selling yourself short.” A PhD? I cried all the way home from his apartment because, though I was a charter school administrator, an adjunct faculty member at BU, and had written a book, I had never consciously considered pursuing this degree. Part of me secretly feared this would make me a less interesting marraige prospect. I didn’t know if I _wanted_ the degree, but after years in LDS singles wards, his words stunned me deeply and beautifully. My husband is not LDS, and based his opinion not on a document but on seeing me clearly and on his deep reverence for his mother — one of the only women in her Harvard Medical School class (and for his father, who adored her). He is an educator as well, and between us we have worked with and counseled hundreds of families — inner-city schools, charter schools, wealthy independent schools.

    When I think of the students I worked with just today — including the four parent phone calls I fielded this afternoon — I see one pattern for emotionally healthy children: children whose parents are lovingly attentive and involved. Some of the most brilliant mothers I observe work full-time. Some work creatively part-time. Some are full-time moms. Some of the most disastrous parents I have seen include those that “stay at home.” Some equally poor parents work full time. Not surprisingly, the best parents know their children, talk to their children, involve themselves in positive ways. I will note this, anecdotely — when there is a stay at home mom in the picture, I am much much less likely to see the father at parent evenings, parents conferences, sports games, even those held in evening hours. I am struck by how many children who have fathers, don’t really have fathers.

  149. Steve, God asked men which one they’d prefer, and we picked it, in the pre-existence. It’s all there in facsimile number two, if you know how to read it.

    But on to more important things:

    Melissa may be gone now, but her series of questions on the proclamation really surprises me. The one with the most shock value is this: Is the Proclamation on the Family Normative?

    I am simply unable to comprehend how one might answer that question in the negative. Anyone want to try?

    As to Kristine’s argument from ambiguity, I want to suggest a basic tenet of legal interpretation– when interpreting ambiguous text, always choose that interpretation that makes most sense of the text. In other words, assume that the drafters meant to say something meaningful.

    There are two basic approaches to the gender roles section of the proclamation. Focus on the initial statements delineating separate roles for the sexes, and then see the “equal partners” and “exceptional circumstances” clauses simply as modifiers that add a bit of shading to the basic statement. Or, one can allow the latter clauses to swallow up the affirmative statement on gender roles, leaving a paragraph that means virtually nothing. Following the rule of choosing the meaning that makes sense, it seem that we have to pick the former. How can we suppose that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve set out to say something like “yes, there is a specific role for men and one for women, but they are to be exactly equal in these roles, which roles are completely transferable and exchangeable, with exceptions for death, disability, and many, many, many other reasons.”

    While that rendering is stretching it a bit, I’m not sure it’s too far from the meaning Kristine claims it might be conveying.

  150. I’m glad my mom was a stay at home mom even though she had a college degree. We six children needed it.

  151. If you don’t think it’s a true principle of doctrine, and if you’re not taking it seriously, then it’s just a somewhat insensitive thing to say about the priesthood and about women.


  152. Rosalynde, thank you for answering my question. But I don’t know if I feel like it was answered. Supposing that I set out to praise womanhood, and am instructed that the best way to do so is to lend it a jaded and objectively critical eye. I understand that there is some room for rational discussion about the pros and cons of the institution, but such discussions don’t really serve my purpose if I’ve set out to say how much I appreciate motherhood, and honor mothers.

  153. I’m still inclined to think, Deborah, that having a mother at home matters.

    The only reason I haven’t laid it on heavy about my mother, Rosalynde W. is, (1) nobody’s ever asked me and (2) I couldn’t talk honestly about what I owe my mom without breaking down.

  154. John asked: “If they are to be given the priesthood, are fathers to be given the ability to bear children?

    I already have that ability. I just need some help from my wife.

  155. Ryan, why must “roles” and “responsibilities” always be used interchangeably? As a physician, my husband has the responsibility to ensure that his patients receive the proper medications; it is not, however, his role to administer the medications. It is not at all difficult for me to envision a division of labor in which father is responsible for financial organization (plans for investments, takes the lead in budgeting and taxes, etc) and mother is responsible for children’s health and education (researches school options, stays on top of doctor’s appointments), but the father cooks and takes the children to school while the mother supplies the paycheck.

  156. Ryan: “a jaded and objectively critical eye”

    Ah, Ryan, disciplinary differences rear their ugly heads! Perhaps for attorneys rational discourse is necessarily jaded and cynical. But for us idealistic academics, it’s exhilarating and empowering! The answer, of course, is that all Mormon men must be academics. :)

  157. but the father cooks and takes the children to school while the mother supplies the paycheck.

    What about situations where the father cooks and takes the children to school and supplies the paycheck too?

  158. Julie (#148), there were *lots* of GAs who vociferously preferred that women not be given the vote–how many of their statements would it take to convince you that denying woman’s suffrage was doctrinally correct?

  159. What is the big deal here? Why don’t all of you go home and tell your already guilt-ridden wives that they are worthless as homemakers, and then apologize for holding them back from all their powerful ambitions by being afraid of powerful women? I’m sure that will be enabling.

  160. Now you’re talking, John… I could definitely get used to that.

    But what effect would that have on a discussion like this? Would women still be oppressed and undervalued?

  161. Why did my wife choose not to do a master’s? Nothing was holding her back. She is far more intelligent than I (she is Jack Welch’s daughter, after all). I even thought it would be great for her to do it and encouraged it. Not only did she shun a master’s, but she wanted to have a baby instead. I never suggested having a baby. That just doesn’t make sense according to many of the things that are said here. And now, because I am a married white LDS male with two kids, I get to be judged by all the enlightened women around here as a “typical” LDS male who wanted to marry some bimbo, get her pregnant, and then keep her down in the house for the next 35 years until I could do the same thing to my adult daughters.

  162. Rosalynde, I actually think there is some wiggle room in there, between the responsibilities and roles. Anytime anyone ‘presides’ over anything, there is little reason to take that to mean they perform all the functions in that area. That’s why I believe the roles as stated have a good degree of flexibility.

    Still, it seems to stretch it a bit far to suggest that a man may ‘preside’ or be ‘primarily responsible’ for providing for the family, but stay home with the kids while the mom works. In a way, it’s even more demeaning to have her work but give him some kind of strange supervisory or presiding function over that activity.

  163. I think I’ve sometimes detected a rift between professional woman and stay-at-home moms in some wards. Sometimes its only one side resenting the other but it can be a two-way-street as well. It’s not a huge thing … just some tension I’ve detected occasionally.

  164. Because her lifelong repression at the hand of men who fear successful women (maybe your father in law really is secretly afraid of his wife and her educational successes, since men are afraid of successful women after all…) caused her to psychologically desire to be “kept down” in the house for the next 35 years, so she married you. Obviously. She can’t *possibly* want to have children AND be a mother, can she?!?

  165. There is a huge rift, Ryan Bell. Professional women despise the backward “stay-at-home” moms.

  166. John, I don’t think there’s the faintest whiff of judging you. In case you haven’t noticed, virtually all of the women posting on this thread are doing exactly what Allison (is she one or two “l’s”?) is. It would be strange indeed for us to disapprove of her choices. Lots of LDS women want to do exactly what your wife wanted, and that’s great and they should do it and be happy. It’s a terrific arrangement that works for lots of people. The only question is whether it’s the only arrangement that is based on a sound understanding of LDS doctrine.

  167. She can’t *possibly* want to have children AND be a mother, can she?!?

    It certainly doesn’t seem like that is something that a woman could legitimately want from discussions like this. It hasn’t been easy for my wife, but it is what she wanted.

  168. John — what Kristine said. Your choices aren’t being judged.

    Except for that part about wanting to do the same to your adult daughters…. wither the fries!?

  169. No way. Not that! That’s the worst fate- how can she possibly be fulfilled by children, and not a successful career? I thought children and child-rearing were becoming exercises for savages these days, not civilized people. After all, children are no more than veritable parasites until at least the age of 10 or so anyway, right?

    She must have been psychologically programmed in a negative way if she thinks that anything other than high degrees and a successful career could possibly provide any measure of happiness.

  170. Polisimo–that’s enough. Nobody here espouses anything like that point of view, and the satire is neither clever nor useful in advancing the discussion.

  171. “maybe yur fazah in lau vreally iz zecretly aufraid auf hiz vife andt heir edtukationaul zukcessez, zince men are afraidt auf zukcessful vomen aufter aull…”

  172. Except for that part about wanting to do the same to your adult daughters…. wither the fries!?

    My daughters will be women someday and isn’t it the subconscious, evolutionary goal of white males to make sure that women are kept down? Of course I was only referring to that oppressive aspect of stay-at-home motherhood, and not suggesting that I would personally cause the pregnancy in the case of my daughters.

    Of course I have made these comments with a heavy dose of irony. Steve and Kristine both say that my choices are not being judged here. I have a hard time believing that. After all, I fall into the category of a man who is better educated (as far as paper degrees go) than my wife Allison, who is only 27 and yet already has two kids and stays at home with them while I go to my nice lawyer’s office all day and work in my profession. She has a paying job in her profession (broadly speaking) too (with BYU Independent Study French courses), but she has to do that from home while taking care of two kids. I fail to see how our lifestyle does not invite implicit judgments in a discussion like this.

  173. John, are you reading a different thread? I don’t know how in the world you could characterize what has been said here in that fashion; that is frankly absurd. Nobody has mentioned you or Allison by name or by inference; you just barely got involved with the thread at all. Nobody is judging you. And if they were, they’d have to put you in the “has a working wife” column, since Allison now works from home.

  174. Hey, John, it’s *my* job to be overly sensitive and take everything too personally, OK? Allison is making more use of her degree than I am (and earning more money, too), so if anyone’s going to feel threatened and judged around here, it’s going to be me!

  175. In fact, John, you and Allison are far more enlightened than I, since she actually gets *paid* for what she does at home!

  176. Nobody has mentioned you or Allison by name or by inference

    The whole point is that they don’t have to. Our life seems a textbook description of what is being discussed here. From the outside, noone can tell that Allison is by far the smarter of the two of us. I know that what I have written is absurd–that’s my whole point.

  177. Polisimo’s satire suits me. I feel like my wife has been judged more than I have on this thread.

  178. Why does the mere suggestion that some women might want to do something besides full time at-home mothering get read as a judgment of women who like staying at home.


  179. I’ve often heard Elder Packer say, “Teach the principle, not the exception.” I think that is wise regarding our interpretation of the quoted Proclamation. I do not doubt that God may quietly inspire some women to perform an earthly mission which involves professional success. (e.g. It would be foolish to say that Cheiko Okasaki (sp?) should not have been a school principal so that she could have been home with her 2 sons.) Unfortunately for those good and capable women, only a small subset of saintly LDS men are eager to find and accommodate such exceptional marriage partners.

    Does that mean that church leaders need to preach to the men about giving the women room to pursue careers? I don’t think so. However, I think we men in the church should follow more closely the counsel to cherish our wives, and let them fully blossom in endeavors of their choosing by giving our wholehearted support. (Think of President Hinckley’s comments about how Sister Hinckley was always learning and reading, and involved in many good things.) I favor more discussion among church members about how a man can support his wife’s ambitions, and less debating over whether it’s okay for the woman to work outside the home.

  180. John f. (170) I agree with Steve, why did you make that comparison if you don’t believe it to be an accurate/doctrinal one? I honestly don’t get it.

  181. Steve E. #175:

    I always agree with you, Steve E. I’m just not man enough to say it mostly.

    Let’s agree that Melissa P., Kristine HH, Rosalynde W., and a host of others have been deranged by feminism and other societal ills. That makes them, if I understand correctly, more to be pitied than censured, etc., especially since they themselves seem to be living the dream.

    All joking aside, breathe deep: most people here have heard the hundreds of talks that Julie in A. has heard about and read the Proclamation, so its not like anyone is going to come here and be totally bowled over by the argument. And they’re not going to be bowled over by our argument, if it consists of bitter umbrage.

  182. I think Deborah (#167) and Rosalynde (#174) make excellent points.

    Even if “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children,” I can imagine particular women worthily fulfilling that responsibility by carefully selecting and supervising excellent child care during certain hours of the day, and by delaying (and/or limiting) childbearing to make such excellent care financially possible. (What’s the hurry? In our theology there’s eternity for as many children as you want, as closely or distantly spaced as one wants.)

    A particular woman might recognize that she would drive herself and her children crazy facing the daily drudgery at the expense of her other abilities; in this case she might best fulfill her responsibility by providing her children with someone tempermentally better suited than herself for the mundane tasks. Recognizing that fulfilling deployment of her natural abilities outside the home may be an important way to ‘fill the measure of her creation’ (didn’t God give her those talents in the first place?), she will be happier and therefore an overall better wife and mother during the 6-8 hours she’s not sleeping or working. I think it’s entirely valid to consider this one of those “other circumstances” that “necessitate[s] individual adaptation.”

    I am skeptical of the apparent assumption by Melissa and Julie that at least one parent need always be in the home, and I say that because of my perspective as a working father. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but my honest perception is that my children are at least as emotionally attached to me as they are to their stay-at-home mother, and I think both my wife’s and my interactions with them have comparable impacts. I can imagine two exceptionally intelligent and talented parents sharing morning and evening routines with their children, as well as breakfast and dinner, and play/reading/recreation for several hours in the evenings and weekends—all compatible with fulfilling work for both parents and high quality care of children during weekday daytime hours.

    This would require postponement of children until completion of graduate school by both man and woman, but this is simply a natural and appropriate (and probably inexorable) extension of long cultural trends that at present include (even in Mormonism) the expectation of letting women finish high school instead of impregnating them at the age of earliest biological opportunity.

  183. Yes, Deborah’s #167 does rock!
    Thanks for reminding me that we need more discussion and action among the men, at the ward level, of going back to being fathers (in addition to helping the wife to better herself and contribute to society in her chosen way). The brethren have emphasized fatherhood so much in recent General Conferences, probably because we still haven’t been moved sufficiently to action.

  184. This thread has sort of lost its focus and I feel reasonably responsible for it.

    I agree with Julie that an overly narrow focus on the Proclamation is a problem.

    I am still trying to figure out if the opposition view is
    1. You Neanderthals have misunderstood the counsel of the leaders (interpretation)
    2. The view you espouse is the view of the Brethren, but it is wrong/just their opinion. (disagreement)

    Lisa is fairly clear.

    Kristine wishes to push that all those statements are not doctrine, which she equates with canon? I think this means (2).

    Rosalynde perhaps is (1) but I don’t know that she’s some out and said one way or another.

    Melissa listed a long set of questions about the issue as it relates to the Proclamation, by which I take it she is shooting for (1). So in summary, these people seem to be all over the map. There were other commenters too, and I didn’t catch them all for which I apologize.

    I find (1) to be more about wishful thinking than about careful study of all the available evidence, as opposed to “interpreting” at the Proclamation in a vacuum. Mostly I would like to know what the Proclamation and all those statements are supposed to mean according to the view in (1). Do they imply any behavioral restrictions or guidance at all? If so, what? Specifically I am thinking of President Hinckley’s 97 address, the address by Elder Scott in the same conference, the “Mothers in Zion” talk by President Benson as well as the one by President Kimball before him?

    A short note on Proclamation exegesis: Suppose I have two counselors in Primary and I ask one to be responsible for the Junior Primary and one for the Senior. What does that mean in terms of the “role” each is to play. If they swap “roles” but claim the same responsibility, should I consider that to be carefully following my counsel, or an attempt to do what they want instead? Is this the wrong analogy? I think it is apt because it is within the context of two equal partners and a Church leader. What am I missing?

    Kristine’s position (2) is probably more tenable, but ultimately denies prophetic counsel the stature it deserves. To ignore everything that is not canonized is to ignore, well, pretty much everything the last 3 modern prophets have said.

    As for Kristine’s women and the vote comment, that probably deserves its own thread rather than a narrow mention here. I, of course, am a Neanderthal and so anxiously await such a post to educate me.

    I am going home now and it is the weekend, so I am in a generous mood and happily apologize for any offense my [F]rank comment above caused. Also, I reject Rosalynde’s assertion that my use of the “brethren” was rhetorical not substantive.

  185. “I am skeptical of the apparent assumption by Melissa and Julie that at least one parent need always be in the home, and I say that because of my perspective as a working father. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but my honest perception is that my children are at least as emotionally attached to me as they are to their stay-at-home mother, and I think both my wife’s and my interactions with them have comparable impacts. I can imagine two exceptionally intelligent and talented parents sharing morning and evening routines with their children, as well as breakfast and dinner, and play/reading/recreation for several hours in the evenings and weekends—all compatible with fulfilling work for both parents and high quality care of children during weekday daytime hours.

    This would require postponement of children until completion of graduate school by both man and woman, but this is simply a natural and appropriate (and probably inexorable) extension of long cultural trends that at present include (even in Mormonism) the expectation of letting women finish high school instead of impregnating them at the age of earliest biological opportunity. ”

    I’m pretty sure that there’s fairly solid research on the ills of not having one parent around much of the time. I see nothing natural and appropriate about furthering the already disquieting societal trend of spending the best child-bearing and child-rearing years making money or getting an education. The joint selfishness of the sexes that has lead to this should be deplored, not embraced.

  186. Kristine HH, etc.,

    I think the reason John Fowles is getting in such a dudgeon on behalf of his wife (and I would be on behalf of my own, if I weren’t feeling smug today) is that his wife (I suspect) and my wife ( I know) isn’t being a mother because its what they like best. They’re doing it, and making the big sacrifices it entails, because they think its their duty. So when someone comes along and says, hey, why don’t we be tolerant, its ok if women want to be at home, its ok if women want to be at work, diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, everybody’s got their preference, there’s no accounting for taste, everybody mind their own business, then that someone *is* attacking what they’re doing. They’re saying its not a duty, its a consumer preference.

  187. Frank: “What am I missing?”

    In your analogy, you’d be a male Primary President. That thought alone makes the whole thing too farfetched for me, since that never happens :)

    But seriously, I find several problems with that analogy. First, counselors are hierarchical. Husband/wife aren’t supposed to be. Second, roles in callings track the callings, not the person — whereas I would assume that you consider the Proclamation to establish roles based on gender alone, rather than via a calling structure. No one is “called” to be a guy, to my knowledge. Third, distribution of tasks in a calling situation is done largely via the spirit, on a case-by-case basis, whereas your view of the proclamation would establish roles with very little room for deviation.

    Apart from those concerns, I guess it’s an OK analogy.

  188. Actually, Adam, I think John and others have been saying precisely the *opposite*–in their efforts to assure us that they are not oppressing their wives, they insist that their wives like this, prefer this, insist on this, in fact. Ironically–or not, you have been very valiantly defending me today–I think of myself as far more motivated by duty than women who are completely content at home…. though of course that in no way implies that I am more deserving of approbation than they are!

  189. I have a vague recollection that the church was actually very much for women being given the vote, as it was assumed they would tend to vote the same way as their husbands, and thus would double the Mormon voting block. Kristine’s comment leads me to believe this is an oversimplification. Like Frank, I would like to have more details.

  190. I think, in the final analysis, that what is right for any mother/wife is what she and her husband, in prayer, decide is right, through inspiration.

    My wife stayed home the first 15 years of our marriage. Then she took a job with an international corporation and worked for about 4 years. When we saw the detrimental affect it had on our youngest child, we started talking about the need for her to come back home. We took our desires to the Lord, and made the promise that if he would help me find work with an income that would provide suffecient for our family’s needs, she would come home. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a job that nearly doubled my income, brought in slightly more than our incomes together, and we upped the ante by having her come home 3 months ahead of schedule.

    She is where she needs to be; she considers motherhood a calling, and is willing to make the sacrifice to fulfill that calling.

    There is a dicotomy in the Church however. Few, if any, of the women called to general leadership positions are not professional women as well. We are taught by our leaders that moms should be at home, but those who sit at the leadership of our wives and moms have not necessarily followed that council.

    How is this reconciled? It becomes an individual family decision, made by prayer and careful consideration, between the husband and wife. It is then no one else’s business the decision that was made, or how one family’s decision should reflect on another’s.

  191. The Utah suffrage question is interesting and has some delicious rhetoric on both sides. I’ll post some of it soon.

    Frank, I’m not arguing that pronouncements must be canonized to be doctrinal. I do think that doctrine generally involves some appeal to scriptural texts or principles, and most LDS discussions of mothers staying home with their children do not make that appeal; they too frequently rely on sentimental rhetoric and common cultural assumptions.

    Adam, I don’t think you traditionalists can have it both ways: either women like and want to be home with their children, which is the most fulfilling possible work and we should weep for the men who don’t get to stay home, or we should acknowledge that it is a real sacrifice for women to stay home, that they might very much like the other options that are available to them. If it is a real sacrifice, then the question becomes whether God really requires that sacrifice or whether it’s acceptable to try to envision ways to more fully share the sacrifices and joys of childrearing between fathers and mothers.

  192. “Few, if any, of the women called to general leadership positions are not professional women as well.”

    Kelly, this is factually incorrect, unless you count full-time church service as a career. In fact, I can think of only two women in General Auxiliary Presidencies in recent memory who had careers outside of home–Chieko Okazaki and Sheri Dew. Sheri Dew had no children.

  193. This traditionalist would say:

    (1) Mothering is difficult and rewarding work. It entails opportunity cost (i.e., career ambitions)
    (2) Fathers providing for a family is difficult and rewarding work. It also entails opportunity costs (i.e., time at home with family)

    Where’s the contradiction?

  194. it is a real sacrifice for women to stay home, that they might very much like the other options that are available to them.

    I would guess this is almost always the case. But the fact that it is a sacrifice doesn’t or shouldn’t necessarily imply that God doesn’t really require it or that it is unfair for God to require it of women specifically while men provide sustenance for the family. That is a point for debate, but that nature of the beast as a sacrifice should not be the factor that determines whether God requires it or not. That is, it seems, arguments that God doesn’t require it need to be founded in something other than the observation that it is a sacrifice.

    Are men making a sacrifice by choosing to marry a woman and have a family? Does the fact that generally LDS men go to work outside the home while LDS women work inside the home mean or imply that LDS men have not made a sacrifice by marrying and having children? Is it less of a sacrifice than the one made by LDS women who stay at home with children? I think that the general assumption, especially in discussions like this, is that the lot of LDS men is less of a sacrifice. Lisa’s comments seem to be a good example of this. That might indeed be true, but is it an assumption that has been simply taken for granted as a premise without critical examination?

  195. “That is, it seems, arguments that God doesn’t require it need to be founded in something other than the observation that it is a sacrifice.”

    I agree.

  196. I couldn’t stay out forever.

    I married at 19 and wanted to become a mother very soon after.I thought I could balance school and motherhood. Infertility happened instead, and looking back I have to say, so much the better. I finished my BA, which doesn’t happen for a lot of women in that circumstance. (I do maintain that marrying young was absolutely not a mistake for me. I cringe when I hear young women told not to even consider marrying until they’re through college. What if that’s not the right choice for them?)

    While waiting to become a mom between my 1996 graduation and our first adoption in 1999, I worked in some pretty serious jobs. I got great experience. With the contacts I built during that time, I continued freelancing as a writer and editor in high-tech and higher ed public affairs for the five years I was home with my kids. My husband was a working engineer with a Master’s degree. It seemed like an ideal situation.

    Then came the pursuit of the Ph.D. We moved. Our house in Salt Lake remained unsold. We started sinking. After a year, it became clear that the graduate stipend my husband was making was not going to be enough to sustain a family of four in California. At the same time, a position opened in the university communications office.

    I couldn’t decide whether I was facing down my eternal adversary or gazing into the windows of heaven. Over six weeks, I made a slow and prayerful decision to return to full-time work. I know this decision was endorsed by the Lord. I also know it’s not to subsidize a luxurious lifestyle. I was told very clearly why I was to go back to work. There are more kids for my family, and they can’t wait. And it’s going to cost to bring them home. So we can’t be sinking, and the Lord threw us a life raft, and for that I can only thank Him.

    There are absolutely situations in which it is appropriate for a mother to work full time outside the home. They are not just situations of single motherhood or women with ill, disabled or unemployable husbands. Women sometimes need to work. And if we read recent counsel from general authorities, that’s stated very clearly. That window is open.

    It’s a serious responsibility to determine whether it’s a trap disguised as a window. But it’s not the responsibility of anyone other than the woman looking into it. We can never know how another mom has made her decision to work or not to work. We (the general membership) ought to keep our mouths shut about it. Blanket statements about motherhood being incompatible with full-time work don’t jive with me. I’m still a mom, and I know how hard I’m working and how deeply I love my kids.

    Kathleen Hinckley Barnes, in a stake Relief Society meeting I attended once, said we can have it all, but we don’t have to have it all at once. There is a season for every purpose under heaven for women. It’s good being a mother while I’m young. I enjoy it. I can’t imagine trying to do it at a time in my life when I have less energy. In twenty years I see myself with a graduate degree, working again after having taken some more time off to be with kids and take care of schooling. This isn’t the normal career plan. I don’t believe in the normal plan. I’m not doing it and I won’t do it, and if it were personified I’d probably give it a rude gesture. My “power” comes from knowing that I’m where I’m supposed to be at this time. Women who buy any plan for themselves other than what they find through personal revelation aren’t finding power; they’re finding subservience.

    Are men intimidated by women who don’t take for granted where they are supposed to be? If they are, it’s their loss.

  197. Adam: I’m pretty sure that there’s fairly solid research on the ills of not having one parent around much of the time.

    I accept that this is the standard lore, and confess my lack of first-hand acquaintance with this “solid research.” But because there would be many factors in play, I would want to know more details about the research before accepting the conclusions at face value. Again, I know the attachment of my children to me in spite of the fact that I work outside of the home, and I have yet to hear an explanation of why it couldn’t be the same for mom.

    Also, I’m not saying it should happen in most cases, just that it might be better overall in some cases.

    I see nothing natural and appropriate about furthering the already disquieting societal trend of spending the best child-bearing and child-rearing years making money or getting an education.

    Are you distressed about all those prime child-bearing years wasted between, say, age 12 and 22? If not, why not? What exactly makes any particular time span the “best” child-bearing and -rearing years?

    The joint selfishness of the sexes that has lead to this should be deplored, not embraced.

    Why is it selfish to delay and limit children, if it improves the quality of life of the ones that are born? If I have only three children instead of twelve, it’s not like the nine spirits will be denied a mortal probation; they will get their turn. If I’m not denying the nine anything, how am I acting selfishly toward them?

    What’s the rush? God has all eternity, and I think we can be confident he’s not in any hurry. And we need not hurry either: If we are also eternal beings with creative capacities in eternity, the creation of children in eternity will immeasurably dwarf the three or twelve born into mortality.

    And in eternity there should be no need for hurry either, by the way.

  198. John,

    Re: your very bizarre comment in 161

    What is the doctrine that connects the priesthood with biology?

  199. Kristine (#179)–If you want to argue that all GAs are wrong and that children are better off with mothers working full time, fine. (Per your analogy to suffrage.) But what I asked of you was a line of text supporting your position above that full time working mothers of young children is OK.

    Christian– ‘high quality chlld care’ is exceptionally difficult to find. Taking it as normative in a discussion such as this one is naive. That said, I do think that families should trade off child care more; I couldn’t have written my book save for another mother’s desire to work; and I never could have afforded to pay for the quality of care that she gave, assuming I could have found it. Of course, swapping like this limits you to 20 hours a week max–which I think is a good thing.

    And, all, on a lighter note: this entire conversation reminds me of a cartoon. The first three panels show a husband and wife agonizing over their career/family arrangments. The fourth panel shows them saying, together: “We need to hire someone to take care of our careers so we can pursue our children.” Amen to that.

  200. Ana–

    I loved your post, except, of course, for the part where you criticize me :). Please note my ‘tweaking’ of my statement before I defended it: that it could be done, and mention of personal revelation. I love your experience, and thank you for sharing it, but remember that your personal revelation was not normative for others, and is not the general counsel.

    And did KHB say that you “didn’t have to” have it all at once or that “you couldn’t have it all at once”? Because Pres. Faust has repeatedly said the latter, and there is a big difference.

  201. Julie, have I *ever* taken the position that full-time work is a good choice for mothers of young children? I don’t think it is, in most cases.

    However, here’s the line that says it’s OK, at least sometimes: “disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”

    My point was only that authoritative repetition of a cultural notion does not render it doctrinal without some appeal to a scriptural principle or claim of revelation.

  202. Kristine–

    I think you did in #146; at least, that is what I was responding to. Of course, disability, etc., even situations like Ana’s, may make it the best option. In general, all I am trying to do here is to disabuse Melissa of the notion that two full-time wage earners and young children can easily coexist. That’s it.

    Not that anyone asked for my opinion :) but I think the optimum arrangement for an LDS woman wanting kids is flexible, meaningful, part time work–if she so desires.

    You wrote, “My point was only that authoritative repetition of a cultural notion does not render it doctrinal without some appeal to a scriptural principle or claim of revelation.”

    That two full time jobs is less than ideal for small children is a lot more than just a cultural notion. You make it sound as if GAs have been mindlessly parroting cultural notions without thinking about it. Do you seriously suggest that there is no revelatory basis to the counsel that mothers with young children do not work full time?

  203. the sentimental paeans to motherhood that attempt to diminish the cost by artificially inflating the emotional rewards of motherhood


    Like you and everyone else, I’ve seen and heard many sentimental and trite nods to motherhood. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard praise, however, that discount the costs of motherhood and instead focus on its rewards. On Mothers Day, church speakers talk about all of the service mothers render, their selflessness, their sacrifice, their unconditional love. The sentimental cliches are all about the costs, not about the benefits. Same with greeting cards. The language and ideas may be hackneyed, but the message never focuses on the rewards at the expense of neglecting its costs. I’d hazard a guess that 999 out of 1000 Mothers Day cards focus on costs, the sacrifices, of motherhood.

    * Note: This comment responds to Comment 142. I found this completed comment unsent in a forgotten browser window.

  204. John F.,

    You raise an interesting point but unfortunately women do hold the priesthood but not in an administrative capacity. (And I’m not talking about their husbands).
    This should ignite some interesting debate.

  205. Interesting article in this week’s New Yorker on Francis Galton:

    “For the most part, Galton was a positive eugenicist. He stressed the importance of early marriage and high fertility among the genetic elite, fantasizing about lavish state-funded weddings in Westminster Abbey with the Queen giving away the bride as an incentive. Always hostile to religion, he railed against the Catholic Church for imposing celibacy on some of its most gifted representatives over the centuries. He hoped that spreading the insights of eugenics would make the gifted aware of their responsibility to procreate for the good of the human race.”

  206. Julie, I haven’t at any point suggested that the only or preferred alternative to the traditional division of labor should be two full-time wage-earning parents. I completely agree with you that meaningful part-time work is the ideal for mothers of young children. It may also be the ideal for fathers of young children. My objection to the emphasis on maintaining the traditional (if, indeed, a lifestyle that has been the exclusive province of middle and upper-middle class families for a few decades can be called “traditional”) family model, is that it precludes creative thinking about how to more fully share the responsibilities and the pleasures of parenthood.

  207. Okay, looking back on this whole thread I guess my overall impressions are while I understand why JF (and many others) feel protective of their wives and their choices/sacrifices (they are my choices too, though no doubt mine are less noble, or at least they feel that way to hear John talk) and in many ways I can imagine my husband mounting much of this same defense on my behalf, I think we’re fighting the wrong fight here.

    Or at least, what I really want from the men in this discussion, from all of you, is just an acknowledgement of the privileges you possess. First off, life is unfair. And the cold hard facts are that it?s more unfair for women. We bear the burdens of sex, have done forever and will do for the foreseeable future. We do more work and get less credit, less glory, less cash, and a nice mother?s day card once a year. Which we do like, but the cash would be nice too. We are poorer, we are more abused, we carry more burdens, we have fewer options, we are more likely suffer silently and unnoticed. And all that. I doubt any of you will disagree with this, I?m just saying.

    In return, I will certainly be glad to acknowledge that men, too, make sacrifices for their families. Men have to suffer through crap jobs, various kinds of painful stuff that result from that Y chromosome (sorry I?m not a man and my imagination failed me a bit here). I know I probably sound flippant, it?s my nature, but I?m serious. There are a lot of burdens adjacent to being a good man, and I think most of you are not only good men, you are excellent men.

    And I know that the whole ?my burden is worse than your burden? thing is generally an exercise in futility, but while I?m willing to acknowledge that man-specific problems do exist and your lot could be improved, it still doesn?t remove the fact that you guys carry every day a huge fluffy bundle of male-privilege. And the very nature of privilege says that you don?t spend much time noticing. Because you don?t have to. (Can I beat you over the head with that a bit more, I?m sure I can.)

    So when we get back to the original question, are powerful women at a disadvantage, I can see why so many of the reactions from many of you is to defend your intelligent fantastic wives. Powerful women all, in their own ways. Defend their choices, your choices, defend the gender roles we are encouraged to live by the church, by mo society, and by our biology.

    But in the end, it all still remains unfair for women. Tough, I suppose. Or, say some, God wants it to be this way. But I do believe we can make it better, and we should try. Just look at how much better the world has become for women in the last hundred years. Wow! It?s stunning. We like voting and pants and laws against domestic violence all that fun stuff.

    But I think that part of the making it better process must lie in locating the problems. Acknowledge that women carry a much heavier burden if she wishes for both a family and an ambitious career. That she may be seen as unsuitable marriage material is one of those burdens. That she will be called selfish if she pursues that desire (yup, heard that one several times today). Imagine, imagine having to choose between the noble goal of parenthood, and the noble goal of following your dream, developing your talents. Imagine if being ambitious made you less attractive and even suspicious.

    It is deeply unfair people, and I refuse to believe that we are helpless to make it better.

    I?m not advocating the downfall of the family as we know it. Traditional families work great for a lot of people, me included *usually*. And traditional families work great for kids (so long as it doesn?t drive the mother to drown them in the bathtub). I?m just seconding Kristine?s assertions that there may be more creative solutions, other options, things we have yet to explore that can remove some of the heavy burden off the backs of women. And can still be good for kids.

    I don?t know if there are solutions. Maybe women are cursed to forever carry these burdens alone. I don?t know.

    But I do know that I want men to notice the freedoms they have that I do not. Please try.

    [Editor’s Note: Profanity has been deleted from this comment. We do not tolerate profanity. We will deal with repeat offenders.]

  208. Thank you for this interesting blog! My thoughts…

    I am presently married to a doctor (second marriage) first husband was a dentist who turned out to be gay, and yes he was a mormon rm etc etc.
    My IQ is listed as 164, I have retired from CNN at the age of 37(journalism) then became a paramedic you get where I’m going with this…(those of you who follow “stream of consciousness”. My point: I am an intelligent, attractive and active LDS woman (converted age 12, from NY) I have always attracted brilliant LDS/NonLDS men, yes because of my intelligence and conversation, looks etc. but also because I love to nurture, cook, clean my beautiful house and have great sex! No kidding! I am not perfect, but I am a healthy mormon woman who happens to feel Heavenly Father did not make we females to be utilized if you will one dimentionally….we are very complicated, beautiful, kind, intelligent mormon women (most of us:) and I love playing all my roles- so does my gynecologist husband (and thank God literally he is straight!) take care and be happy folks!! love shehun

  209. Lisa-

    You wrote “And the cold hard facts are that it’s more unfair for women. We bear the burdens of sex, have done forever and will do for the foreseeable future. We do more work and get less credit, less glory, less cash, and a nice mother’s day card once a year. Which we do like, but the cash would be nice too. We are poorer, we are more abused, we carry more burdens, we have fewer options, we are more likely suffer silently and unnoticed. And all that. I doubt any of you will disagree with this, I’m just saying.”

    If this is your lot in life, and your husband has not taken steps to correct it, then you both need serious counselling.

    One idea at at time:

    “We bear the burdens of sex”- I am sorry you see sex as a burden. Actually, I realize you speak of child birth, a short lived, temporary, albeit painful experience. I attended the birth of all five of our children, and about the time that my wife’s powerful grip separated the joints in my hand during the birth of our fourth, I was grateful that the birthing process was over. I understand that she will live with the discomfort of birth for many weeks to come, but when you look at the little child that came as a result of the process, is the burden really so bad? Besides, what about the burden placed on the father for now providing for that child for the next 18 years?

    More work, less credit- In other words, getting up every morning, driving an hour in heavy traffic, or taking the subway, or the bus, putting up with demanding employers and even more demanding customers, pressing deadlines, suffering bodily injury, mental fatigue, physical stress- This is less work? As for credit, if your husband does not come home at the end of the day and thank you for all you do for him and your children, I must confess shame on him!

    Less glory? You are co-creaters with God. What greater glory can a woman have than to be the conduit through which God creates life? Are you really so shallow that you cannot see your direct connection with Diety?

    Less cash. I pity you on this note. In our house, we look at the family financial situation as sort of a small business. My part of that business is to go to work for an employer who is willing to give MY FAMILY money in exchange for work I do for him. My wife’s part is to be at home and make sure that the children get off to school in the morning, do their homework in the afternoon, and that the home maintain at least a small amount of order. The key here is that whatever money comes into the family is FAMILY money, not mine, not hers, not the kids. We share equally. If you husband doles out more to himself than to you, you need to have a sit down chat with him.

    You are poorer- Hmm, WIC does not stand for Men, Infants, and Children! The typical MAN on the corner begging for food or money is not a WOman. I’m not saying that women don’t have it poorly. But when it comes down to poverty, women will almost always have a home to go to. As a bishop, I once spent two hours trying to find a place for a man who walked into my building homeless, a place to stay. All of the shelters for men were full, all two of them, that is. There were dozens of women shelters, on the other hand. Can men be jerks and not provide for their wives and children? Sure. But in a married family, if the woman is poor, the man is equally poor.

    While I could go on with each point, let me close with this. One day, several years ago, I was unemployed and really struggling. I could see the burden this created for my wife and children. Knowing it was my responsibility to provide for them, I took a trip in my rickety old truck out to the desert, where I wanted to pray vocally, earnestly, and without fear of interuption. When I got to my pre-determined location, I stopped the truck, turned off the engine, got out, and wished I had a revolver in my hand. Though it was fleeting, a flash of a second at most, nonetheless I felt my burden was unbearable and wanted, for that moment, to take my life. Instead, I got down on my knees and cried to my God. Often since then, and perhaps some before then, I have looked on the truly impoverished in the world, and rather than lament “wo is me”, I have doubled my fast offereings, increased my humanitarian aid, prayed more determined for those suffering.

    If you truly believe that your lot in life is so awful, hit your knees and ask God for His divine intervention. Then reach out to your neighbors, put a little more in the fast offering envelope, count your blessings that you live in such a great country, and most importantly, thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the burden lifting blessing of the atonement.

  210. Kelly,
    Lisa was speaking generally about the plight of women, not inviting your (totally mistaken, btw, not to mention RUDE) judgment of her personal situation.

    The reason there are more services provided for poor women and children? They are overwhelmingly more likely to be poor than men. The reason they are overwhelmingly more poor? Men can and do walk away from the consequences of their sexual activity with virtual impunity–women bear both the financial and the physical burden of caring for children in many, many, many families.

  211. Kelly, you missed Lisa’s point, I think. Strange that all she would ask is that men acknowledge that women get the shaft in society, and yet your response is to call her to repentance.

  212. “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.”

    I’m with those who feel that Melissa’s questions in #129 dodge the real issue. It’s like the commandment vs. counsel debate, which I find silly. In either case, we do well to consider how to apply the commandment/counsel in a way that will bless our particular lives.

    Which way do we want to teach our youth?
    (A) “The Proclamation is not necessarily scriptural, doctrinal, or normative”
    (B) “I believe the Proclamation is inspired, and I am carefully and prayerfully seeking guidance for my particular individual and family situation.”

    The first does little to build faith. The latter strengthens faith, while noting the critical importance of personal inspiration and allowing for inspired adaptation.

    The First Presidency has issued only about 5 or 6 official proclamations in the past 150 years or so. (I’d love to be given the correct number and time frame.) That in itself speaks to the importance of “The Family” proclamation. The united voice of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve bears considerable weight in my book. It’s not an off-the-cuff remark made by one of the brethren at a stake or regional meeting.

  213. Pretty much all the words here have referred to mothers with small children. Several months back I heard an older professional women talking on the radio. Her feeling had been that her children needed her most in early adolescence, that her unique motherly contribution to their well being was greater then than in early childhood when their needs were more physical and easily attended by a hired hand. So she managed her career that way, with a full load when her children were small and some years of lighter professional involvement when they were beginning their teen years.

    Last year my wife, in preparation for the future, sought out many older women she respects to gain their counsel on mothering teenagers. She came away with the opinion that she will need to be around most days during the first half-hour the children arrive home, as that is when the important conversations will happen.

  214. And, John, what about the fathers whose advice you sought out? Did they think they could still be an effective presence in their children’s lives if they missed that crucial half-hour?

  215. Kristine–

    I think you are being unneccesarily hostile to John’s good point: child care doesn’t stop at age 5.

    That said, I wonder if this woman isn’t being too dismissive of the needs of young children: most research on neural (and moral) development suggests that you might not want to hire out those years, either.

  216. Well, there was a rancher I spent some time with. Seeing how he managed his life and family caused me to realize that the removal of mothers from the home was proceeded by removal of fathers from the home. You probably wouldn’t have liked that situation either. For instance, the whole family was working together bringing in hay. As mealtime approached, the husband, his sons, and I continued that work, and the wife and daughters went in to prepare food.

    I also dealt with a geologist who worked half-time and canoed the rest. I had a goal to reach the point that I could arrange something similar and use the canoeing time more purposefully with my children (like the rancher). Career setbacks make that seem out of reach now, but I will keep aiming that way.

    Remembering that rancher, brings to mind something I mentioned here Thursday night. His widow sent me a letter after his death. A watering trough he was moving twisted the wrong way and crushed him. One of my wife’s old roommates was also widowed when her husband crashed a cargo plane. The widow was pregnant with their first child at the time.

    I suppose it is just the Times and Seasons demographic, but in these comments about employment, it seems the worst that can happen is boring writing assignments. My father fell off a roof once and landed on his head on a steel truck bed that fortunately had been raised to a few feet below the roof. His head rang for a week. I had a bad scare once when I slipped on some dust at the edge of the pitched roof of a three-story apartment building while my arms were loaded. Fortunately, a near co-worker grabbed me.

    Nearly all my days are spent at a desk now. Still, my last job required two-hour safety instruction sessions when visiting power plants, and the occasional caveat “Watch it around that duct; someone fell and died there last month.” We would enter dark dust-covered spaces where the air is hotter than an oven and oxygen depleted under operating conditions. A watchman would stay outside to call for help if anything went wrong. Few women are seen in such places.

    The focus here on academic and legal careers is so narrow in comparison to the whole of employment.

  217. Julie, I didn’t say anything hostile, or anything at all about the point that childcare doesn’t end at 5. I agree with that point. However, the fact that teenagers still need parents does not in any straightforward way support the notion that their mothers have to be home all the time.

  218. I was expecting this thread to explode with comments and during the past couple that has certainly happened.

    I remember years ago as a BYU English major I became weary of feminist approaches to literature. I expressed that topic fatigue to someone and received an acid response “you had better get used to it.” For some time I considered that and I think this person was right. The role of women in society, the workplace, the family, the church, etc. is going to be up for continual discussion. It’s not going away.

    Obviously some people feel that the proper role of women has been decided already and others feel that is not the case.

    To return to the original topic of the post — I get the impression that some powerful women are single by choice but still dissatisfied with their experiences in the dating/marriage-selection game. That is, some powerful women are meeting men they are at least slightly interested in and then are turning down proposals they receive. It’s hard to know how to judge this situation. The women might very well have legitimate reasons for turning down proposals they receive. At the same time, some of these women might be demonstrating an utter unwillingness to compromise their goals and priorities — a vital characteristic for those (men and women) who choose to marry.

  219. Kristine-You wrote “Kelly,Lisa was speaking generally about the plight of women, not inviting your (totally mistaken, btw, not to mention RUDE) judgment of her personal situation.”

    Typically, when one writes it is from a personal point of view. Therefore, it was only natural for me to believe that Lisa was writing from a position that these issues apply to her. As for being rude, I don’t believe I was at all. Had I been, my wife, who likes to read over my shoulder, would have said something. Actually, I was simply obliging her challenge that no one could disagree with her. I happen to disagree.

    Now, there is merit to the fact that many men walk away from an obligation to care for the children they father, and the mother of those children. Absolutely this is a tragedy in our society. Again, as a bishop I saw the devastation this can cause. But I also saw single moms pick themselves up by the shoelaces, get an education, provide for their families, and get married. It can be done, provided one is willing to try, and willing to ask for help.

    Steve- You wrote “Kelly, you missed Lisa’s point, I think. Strange that all she would ask is that men acknowledge that women get the shaft in society, and yet your response is to call her to repentance.”

    This statement makes it seem that ALL women get the shaft. Again, it is true that some women get the shaft, but certainly not all women. My response was not to call anyone to repentance, but rather to ask people to consider their circumstances in light of others less fortunate. We have oft been told that when we are in our most dire of circumstances, the best medicine is to reach out and lend a hand to someone even more down, and all of our troubles and burdens will be lifted. This is not me speaking, but prophets, apostles, leaders of the Church calling us to be generous.

    I realize this is going to open a huge can of worms, and criticism of me, and I know it is off the main topic, but does have place in this conversation. Kristine made the comment “The reason they are overwhelmingly more poor? Men can and do walk away from the consequences of their sexual activity with virtual impunity–women bear both the financial and the physical burden of caring for children in many, many, many families”.

    Ergo the man is to blame for all of the woman’s problems? What about the woman? Is she not equally responsible for the consequence of sexual activity? How many children would be born out of wedlock if every woman that was approached by a low-life man for sex would say no? The answer? None. If the woman said no, there would be no child for the man to walk away from, no child for the woman to raise alone.

    I realize that there are circumstances where women are married, have children, and the husband leaves them for a younger woman, or whatever other pleasure he believes he will find. It happened in the family in which I grew up. It happens all too frequently, and these men should be ashamed of themselves, no doubt.

    I understand that men can be jerks. I have also witnessed women stepping out on their husbands. The world is not perfect, not ideal. So, each of us can only do the best we can do, then leave the rest of our burdens at the Lord’s feet. Having said this, I understand how difficult this may seem to be. “How do I leave my burdens at the Lord’s feet?” You simply say to your Father in heaven, “Father, I have enough to do in providing for my family, but ther burden of worrying about what I cannot control is simply too much. I will do everything I can to make my way in life, but I really need you to take from me the burdens I can do nothing about.” Then get to work on the things you can do, and leave the rest behind.

  220. Brother Knight–it is not at all “natural” to assume that Lisa was writing about her personal situation. All of her comments were about women generally; she made no mention of her own life. If she had, it would still be completely rude and out of line to suggest marital counseling; you are simply not in a position to make those kinds of judgments. Moreover, such judgments constitute the kind of personal attack that is specifically forbidden by our comment policies.

    You should apologize, or your comments will be deleted.

    Thank you.

  221. I bet, off the top of my head, that there are a greater number of male suicides in the U.S. than female suicides. Why? Is it because men have a weaker psychological constitution than women? Is it because men are not finding fullfillment as fathers because of the demands of their careers? Is it because men are not finding fullfillment in their careers? Is it because, after all is said and done, the vanities of the world cannot supply the happiness we seek? If men are generally unhappy with their lot in life, why in the hell do women think that doing what men do will bring that happiness? I find most of the arguments on this thread to be border line ridiculous because they only apply to a very thin elite uppercrust. It’s as if we believe that the average schmoe rolls out of bed in the morning with stars in his eyes because he gets to run off to the career of his dreams. How wonderful it must be for those lucky devils who get to poor asphalt for ten hours a day, or drive a trash truck, or monitor gages at a sewage treatment facility, or deliver freight, or drive a forklift, or guard prisoners, or paint buildings, or what have you. And it’s doubly fun for an extra-schmoe like me who’s an artist at heart!

  222. Jack, you’re right. But discussions of whether mothers should stay home are also already elitist; in most of the world, for most of history, having an adult in the family whose primary duty is childcare has been and remains a luxury available to very few.

  223. Holy moly!

    Can you see nothing good in Kelly’s comments? I anything is to be deleted it should be this kind of nonsense: “And traditional families work great for kids (so long as it doesn’t drive the mother to drown them in the bathtub)”. You’re swallowing an awfully big fish, Kristine.

  224. Kelly’s comments have some good points, which is why we’re giving him an opportunity to apologize and rephrase.

  225. Kristine,

    Even so, I’m still a little angry with you. How long are you going to make me wait for the music thread you promised?! (sorry, I don’t know where else to make a plug for it)

  226. Don’t worry, Jack, I fly off the handle with painfully predictable regularity–I’m sure you’ll have a chance to respond calmly to some hotheaded remark of mine in the future. :)

  227. Well, the difference between you and I is that I’ll probably forego the chance of responding calmly! I guess believing that one espouses a morally superior outlook doesn’t necessarily make one a better christian.

  228. Kelly,

    Your comments are well made. Obviously we grew up under similar circumstances. Let me add that my experience has shown that women can be every bit as abusive as men (this is an equal opportunity sin), and the consequences equally harmful.
    There are many men who would gladly take the “burden” of raising a family after a marriage breakup, but are denied that opportunity.
    If any of this dialogue is to improve, there has to be a recognition of responsibility on the part of both sexes that life is not a bed of roses and each sex has burdens to bear – different, perhaps, but each equally onerous.
    To minimize the role that either sex plays, or the degree of pain and suffering that each endures is to ignore reality.
    When one is in the middle of turmoil it is seemingly impossible to have an unbiased approach to problems and their causes.
    There is an interesting article on stress. A professor held out a pen (I believe) at arms length and asked his class how much it weighed. After a few responses, he said, “it really doesn’t matter how much it weighs in real terms, but rather how long I hold it out there”. He compared this to the attitudes and biases, hurts and grudges that we carry. The longer we hold on to them the more burdensome they become and the heavier they become – ergo, the more stress we feel in our lives.

    If we are around people who complain about life, their husbands and wives, and we empathize with them, chances are we will adopt many of their same attitudes and look at our experiences from that perspective.
    Perhaps we need to look inside and try and figure out how we can make things better instead of worse. Those who harbor any of the “wo is …” attitudes, are going to impact the lives of those they love in ways that will carry serious consequences. It’s a poor choice of lifestyle.

  229. I enjoyed reading Lisa’s post. Particularly, the section where she acknowledges that men make sacrifices and have burdens too. (I think maybe Kelly and a few others missed this point). I also applaud her for pointing out that most of the men who comment in this thread are excellent.

    I agree with her, there’s no question women deserve more acknowledgment.

    However, I recall that a number of men on this thread, specifically, Steve Evans and Christian did acknowledge the hard lot of women and the greater freedom men enjoy. It was quite bold of them to do so because an earlier part of the thread talked about the “sentimental paeans” men offer, out of guilt it was suggested, and how they’re no good. When I first started reading these blogs Ebenezer Orthodoxy wrote a lengthy and well-thought out thread acknowledging the sacrifice of women on the FMH blog and it satisfied exactly nobody—perhaps, it fell in the “sentimental paean” category. Regardless, it’s clear to me that just any old acknowledgment won’t do, so I’d be interested in getting more specific clarification on what kind of acknowledgment you’re looking for.

    More importantly, let me add that if acknowledgment is the end, then the means need to be altered. Much of this thread is similar to the “LaBute and the Beasts” thread and to a lesser degree the “Mormon Masculinity” thread. In both “Beasts” and this thread the purported shallowness of men was a major theme. When a thread begins with a discussion of an article entitled “Men Just Want Mommy” that maintains that men are attracted to weak, unambitious women as this thread did, or if you claim Mormon men are only attracted to beautiful, but not intelligent women, as the “Beasts” thread seemed to, then, of course, the audience of men you are trying to persuade and coax into more acknowledgment will feel vaguely insulted. They will be alienated and naturally will assume a more defensive posture.

    If you are, as I am, and as I’m sure the vast majority of men who regularly post on this thread are, an intelligent man who has always been attracted to intelligent women, who has only pursued intelligent women, and who has been lucky enough to find one willing to get married to him, then the consistent repetition of how shallow your gender is, is bound to get tiresome, if not offensive. I have no doubt whatsoever that if there were a pattern of threads arguing, primarily with anecdotal evidence, that women are shallow much greater outrage would have resulted. A little consideration of your audience always goes a long way toward achieving acknowledgment.

    And that’s why I love Lisa for saying we’re excellent.

  230. Rereading my last comment, I see the wording makes it sound incorrectly as though I entered confined spaces during operating conditions. There are daredevils who do that kind of thing, but I never went anywhere that lacked cool breathable air.

  231. Kristine,

    To be fair to Kelly’s reading Lisa’s comments as being personal, Lisa did write them in first-person plural. The purpose of the first-person plural is to show that one is a member of the class discussed. Lisa may not have intended to say she was a member of the class that receives less cash and recognition than they deserve, but her words were ambiguous. To avoid ambiguity, she should have written, “many women receive less cash,” and so on, to clarify that she is not part of the class of women that are mistreated by their husbands. The propriety of a stranger prefacing his comments to a person who suggests their husband mistreats them by encouraging them to seek professional counseling is, in my mind, defensible.

    Regarding elitism, I believe you’re misunderstanding the church’s position. President Benson didn’t expect mothers to spend their days teaching, entertaining, and otherwise caring for their children. He thought they would be doing work — washing or mending clothes, feeding animals, preparing food, tending house — with or in the presence of their children, as women have done the world over for millennia. That quotidian cooperative contact benefits children. Benson didn’t ask mothers not to work, he asked them not to do work that separates them from their children. Outsourcing childcare to professionals is the elitist solution.

  232. Taking a step back… What’s interesting to me about discussions like this is the ease with which the polemic is (apparently, though not actually) polarized by gender, and how, once the apparent polarization is in place, a whole host of gender-sensitive issues gets conflated with the original question. Frank’s #209, for example, attempts to dichotomize the “opposition view”–but includes only the *women* who opposed him, even though there were a number of men, including Steve Evans and Christian and others, who also objected to the argument. And Lisa’s #236 draws in a number of related but tangential (to this thread, at least) gender-sensitive issues, which–real and troubling as they are, and I feel it too, Lisa–tend to push things beyond the boiling point in heated discussions like these. I’m as guilty as anybody in this, both in unnecessarily circling the gender wagons when I feel women are being attacked (I recall an unacceptably snarky comment of mine to Larry on the divorce thread, for example) and also in not being careful enough in criticisms I level. (My point about “sentimental paeans,” for example, implicated both men and women, but women only parenthetically, so I can see how men would feel more defensive. And actually, Brian, although Ebenezer’s post was not the kind of paean I was talking about–it was too carefully considered to be that–it did in fact satisfy a good number of commenters, but not me. That’s okay, I’m glad my opinion matters most to you. And, like Lisa, I think men are excellent. :) )

    This kind of false gender polarization is especially prevalent in internet forums, I think, where gender is one of the few status markers that can be considered in the conversation, since gender is often transmitted through gender-identified user names.

    So what can I learn from this? I need to resist, difficult as it is, the temptation to see the debate in terms of “us versus them,” and I need to take extreme care in starting debates that may go in that direction. I need to do the best I can in posts and comments to maintain focus on the original issues, tempting as it may be to stray. I need to remember that each commenter has a whole complement of status markers that don’t come through as clearly as gender, and thus I need to be very, very careful in the assumptions I make about intention or implication.

    I hope we don’t need to stop initiating conversations about gender altogether, and I don’t think we do.

  233. Julie, my apologies for missing your tweak. Thanks for your response. *My* revelation was not normative for others, but revelation in general should be. If we would all trust in others’ revelations for their own lives (including men trusting the revelations women receive, as my own husband has done so well) we would probably not have to have this whole conversation.

    If the “general counsel” were to search seriously for guidance on our work and childrearing choices, without all the emphasis on the ideal choice, I wonder how things would be different. It’s possible that more moms would work. They would be held accountable for that choice. And maybe it wouldn’t be so good; maybe the children would be the ones to suffer. On the other hand, it’s possible that women would thrive on being more trusted with that responsibility. That we would each receive confirmation from the Spirit about whatever choice was appropriate, and have that to fall back on when times are tough. Because they’re tough either way. It’s a bummer to be a working mom a lot of the time. It’s also a bummer to stay at home a lot of the time. I’d like to see more women with a real testimony of what they’re doing. I don’t think I had that when I was at home with my kids, and you know what? They suffered from that, too.

  234. Rosalynde, I’m not sure that “us vs. them” distinction is fair, especially considering one of the most vocal speakers for the “other side” was Julie. Further the fact some one mentions two women to disagree with doesn’t imply they are dividing it down gender lines the way you suggest. Indeed I’d argue that the person so dividing is you and that your claims don’t fit the way the discourse has evolved in the least.

    Certainly I don’t think this is an issue divided by gender. I’d suspect it is instead divided by people who are or who are in relationships with people who’ve strongly sought after career. (Or think they would like to)

    I do agree we have to be careful about “us vs. them” mindsets. However I think that when we focus in on arguments and less who is making them that this problem naturally resolves itself.

  235. To second Matt’s concerns, I agree that the issue is being with the children and not having the children left alone or with strangers. To be fair there are many jobs that can be done at home while caring for children. Perhaps they aren’t quite the “professional” jobs that some might value as “worthy.” But there are a lot.

    Consider a few

    Computer programming consultant. (Most of our employees work from home)
    Reseller via eBay (There are many people making thousands or tens of thousands of dollars via eBay)

    Depending upon ones options there are even things like real estate broker or so forth. I’m sure there are a lot I’ve not even considered.

    I think the real concern is going off into the business world and never seeing ones children.

    I should add however Brigham Young’s famous remarks about women going off and being accountants and so forth while men stayed at home and plowed the fields. However that was definitely in a different age and may further have assumed polygamy wherein daycare wasn’t an issue.

  236. Clark, you have the uncanny ability to reiterate my points just as you dismiss my argument! There must be a technical name for this rhetorical move…it’s quite effective, actually! ;)

    Seriously, you may want to review my comment. I made the point that the gender polarization was an apparent phenomenon, not an actual phenomenon; I mentioned several commenters by name–and I should have mentioned Julie as well, but Julie is too level-headed to throw herself willy-nily into the fray!–who belie this apparent polarization. And if you would like to argue that many of the comments from the early 200s onward do not involve a male v. female dynamic–no matter the gender or the allegiance of the commenter–you may do so, but I am unlikely to be convinced.

    Unless you can pull another fancy rhetorical move out of your hat… :)

  237. It’s clearly not an “ambitious” career women (in the family) vs housewife dynamic either. (can’t remember who made that claim). Most of the women here (me included) do not fit that assertion either.

    And while I can see why my words may have been misread by Kelly, I’m still not thrilled by Matt telling me I chose my words incorrectly. I disagree. I think I wrote a good comment and said exactly what I meant to say in the tone that I meant to say it. I will not apoligize for for including myself with the larger body of women, I too am every day affected directly by the burdens of women.

    And Rosalynd, I don’t think that my arguments were tangental. I did not know that you can clearly show the disadvantages faced by powerful women without looking at the the larger disadvantages.

    And as for Kelly, your pain is real, the burdens you bear are heavy, I don’t doubt that one bit. But even so, all the points I made are still true.

  238. Lisa,

    “I don’t know if there are solutions. Maybe women are cursed to forever carry these burdens alone. I don’t know.”

    When you are prepared to acknowledge that men are cursed with burdens as well maybe solutions will be found.

  239. I think one of the most important comments made by Lisa is the following:

    “Imagine having to choose between the noble goal of parenthood, and the noble goal of following your dream, developing your talents. Imagine if being ambitious made you less attractive and even suspicious.”

    I think this would be a healthy exercise for many men (perhaps expecially Mormon men), and it might spark some important conversations between husbands and wives, and maybe even result in some of the “creative solutions” dreamed of by Kristine.

    I would be interested to hear the other side of the story, however. What types of burdens suffered by men might women benefit from imagining or examining? For example, do the men commenting here who work long hours away from home feel that they have lost a certain bond with their children that they otherwise might have had? Do they feel that lack in their daily lives and how does it affect them?

    Only Christian (I think) has really commented on the specific downside to being a father who has to work full time to support the family, and he seemed to state that this choice has not affected his bond with his children. Is that true for others? Do fathers just expect less than mothers when it comes to bonding with children?

  240. Larry, go back and read my comment, I did awknowledge men’s burdens, and then I did again in the post directly before yours.

  241. The comments on here are getting condescending. What kinds of questions are these that are being asked? Could this be the reason kids grow up in so many homes confused regarding structure and identity and have no sense of the purpose of life?
    Or is it just a superiority complex?

  242. Lisa,

    Your comment talked about carrying the burdens alone. It is never “alone”.
    You also said:
    “But in the end, it all still remains unfair for women. Tough, I suppose.”

    So I can only conclude that your comments regarding men was gratuitous at best.

    [Editor’s Note: quoted profanity has been deleted from this comment. We do not tolerate profanity. We will deal with repeat offenders.]

  243. “Imagine having to choose between the noble goal of parenthood, and the noble goal of following your dream, developing your talents. Imagine if being ambitious made you less attractive and even suspicious.”

    The point is that it is not men who are demanding this trade-off between ‘developing your talents’ and ‘parenthood.’ It already exists. No amount of fingerpointing will make it go away. And, because it already exists, its not surprising that men who want children will be a little suspicous of women who seem to set their ambitions above the dream of parenthood, or who don’t admit that their ambitions might conflict with parenting.

  244. I really hope Larry was not referring to my questions since they are asked in all sincerity. My husband and I discussed the conversation on this thread at length this morning, and we couldn’t help but feel that by focusing only on women, a piece of the conversation was missing.

    [Btw, these types of discussions are particularly relevant to us at this time, since we are expecting our first child very soon and we are currently both practicing attorneys. So, I am still interested in responses, but I guess I would rather have the questions ignored than attacked as condescending. I am very pregnant, you know, so comments like that might just make me cry. : ) ]

  245. Adam,
    Sometimes I hate you. Not because you are not right, but because you show such an uncommon degree of common sense. I just can’t stand talent. :)

  246. Lisa,
    We do not allow profanity on this board. You’ve been warned.

    The same goes for quoting other people’s profanity.
    Also, cool it. Sometimes its better to not reply at all.

  247. My goodness… where is this thread going?

    I appreciate Danithew’s effort in #248 to steer us back to the start of the thread. I’d like to suggest a new direction–how can the talented LDS Melissas in this world increase their chances of finding (and eventually marrying) that rare LDS man who will help her reach her full potential? Can anyone offer practical solutions?

  248. Sorry Heidi, I read it out of context of your intent. Congratulations!
    The most important role in my life has always been that of a father. At times I found it very difficult but the sacrifices that I made were but a swat at a gnat compared to the joy I have in the right choices they have made.
    You will find others, like Jack, who have had big families, along with life’s trials, who have their priorities in place.
    By the by, if anyone has any ideas on how we can get Jack into school and get the degrees he should have, let it be known. There is a real talent there. Don’t forget Chauncey Riddle went back to school in mid-life and left behind the life of a farmer.

  249. Adam,

    Profanity is not part of my vocabulary. The only reason it is there is because she said for effect. Nobody said anything, so it seemed like fair game. It’s not as if others in the administration didn’t read it and let it pass.
    I apologize for repeating that word but part of my indignation was the use of the word.

  250. Before offering my own feeble suggestion to my question in #178, I’ll explain why I ask the question. Back to the original topic: “Are powerful women at a disadvantage [when it comes to finding an LDS marriage partner]?” Reality seems to be an obvious YES! And due to reasons shared by so many writers here, that answer is unlikely to change in our lifetimes.

    I haven’t suffered from this disadvantage. (For starters, I’m male.) However, if I imagine myself in the shoes of an accomplished and professionally ambitious woman such as Melissa, then I see a rather unfortunate bleak outlook for my combined dreams of temple marriage, family focus, and professional satisfaction. Dating and finding a partner is challenging enough for those who are highly “flexible” about their futures. Where are the men who will understand who I am and will lovingly work with me so that we raise a lovely family together while we both enjoy professional work? How do I find him, and how does he find me? Not easy, to say the least!

    Now for my admittedly feeble suggestion. I certainly hope that others can come up with something better than this. Subscribe to one or more LDS-based singles websites. Begin the profile greeting, “I am an intelligent woman who loves intellectual pursuits. In fact, I plan to become a professor. The gospel and raising a family are important to me, and I want both myself and my future husband to be very involved in teaching and raising our children. If this does not threaten or bother you, I’d love to hear from you.” Hopefully, the select men seeking such a partnership will notice. But sadly, be prepared to ignore the inevitable judgmental responses from some readers who have no interest, but take it upon themselves to call you to “repentance”.

  251. Adam, in #224 I asked some specific questions based on your #210. If you’re not interested in continuing that part of the discussion, that’s fine, I don’t want to be pushy; but I wanted to point you to it in case you didn’t notice it amongst the blizzard of messages.

  252. OK, let’s talk solutions. Here’s a few:

    (1) counsel YW to consider how to frame their career pursuits in a way that is more complimentary to family. For example, a YW interested in medicine will have a much easier time as a dermatologist than an ER doc. She’d have an even easier time as a pharmacist, assuming that that was something she was interested in. (Of course, YM should think about these things as well.)

    (2) Counsel YW to take advantage of things like AP classes, summer sessions, etc. I was 1/2 finished with grad school when I married at 20, which meant my options were much more open than someone on a standard track who would be 1/2 finished with a BA at 20. (Ditto for YM.)

    (3) Financial planning for YSA. While most are very frugal by necessity, there are enough paying the note on a little red sportscar that will, if they find themselves in a family way in a few years, be a real albatross.

    (4) We need a resurgence of good old Mormon thrift. Young couples could minimize the # of hours that either need to work substantially; I am amazed at the people who ‘need’ (not ‘desire for mom’s fulfillment’) two incomes and have things like cable, cell phones, two *nice* cars, etc., etc.

  253. Julie, I love your ideas 2-4. YSA especially need to get some financial sense drilled into them; it seems to me, however, that’s the last thing young people will want to hear…

    Of course I’m opposed to counseling YW to pre-select careers that favor child-bearing. In my mind we will be depriving ourselves and society of great doctors, lawyers, scientists and other non-child-friendly professionals. Worse yet, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the prospect of teaching YW to gear their whole lives around kids. What if they can’t have them? Then women may have chosen career paths beneath their potential, for the mere possibility of family. I’m not sure it’s worth it — although that’s clearly a case-by-case evaluation.

  254. Mark, if I’ve understood Melissa correctly she’s essentially looking for someone willing to limit his professional ambition. I infer this from her references to men’s (lack of) willingness to make substantial contributions to child care, and to her own (remarkable) family experience with an unusually flexible father.

    I’m not sure if Mark’s call in #278 for practical solutions for the “Melissas” gives me permission to offer advice, but here goes: While making clear that you’re not going to give up your professional ambitions, also make clear that you’re not going to expect it of him either. Compromise on finding someone like your remarkable father. I think you’d have a (slightly) better chance of finding an LDS man who would be willing accept fewer and delayed children, until high quality child care can be found and afforded—and willing to forego children altogether if it may never be found, as Julie seems to think. Make your peace with the Proclamation by interpreting it as I did in #206.

    I know delaying children is looked down upon in Mormon culture, and cracking the door open for elective childlessness is practically anathema, but here I risk a reminder of the obvious: you’re not having children while being single anyway. You may as well enjoy the benefits of being with someone, even if it involves fewer (or even no) children.

  255. “The point is that it is not men who are demanding this trade-off between ‘developing your talents’ and ‘parenthood.’ It already exists. No amount of fingerpointing will make it go away.”

    To some degree I agree with this, I’ve already said as much. We women carry a heavier burden, and probably always will. Biology demands it. But I do think awknowledging these burdens (as you have done) along with creative solutions and more fluid expectations of gender rolls can serve to reduce these burdens.

    Is that too much to ask?

  256. Steve–

    You’ll notice that I didn’t suggest that a YW interested in medicine become a practical nurse. I tried to keep the options on a level playing field in terms of training, prestige, and financial compensation (derm=ER doc). I don’t think there is anything wrong with encouraging people to think in these terms; it is simply practical. While some YW won’t have kids, the overwhelming majority (what? 90% 80%?) will, and it makes sense for them to plan for it.

    One of the worst things we do is shunt career-minded women into elem. and secon. education, where flex time and part time jobs are extremely hard to come by. I’d suggest a YW interested in a family-compatible career become a pharmacist, comp. programmer, accountant, etc.

  257. Hrm. Well, Julie, your ideas are admittedly broader than I initially gave you credit for, but I still am wary about that kind of thinking. I think your stats are high. 80% of YW have kids? I think some of the single sisters around here might disagree.

    I’d also just point out that being a doctor is rarely a financially adviseable career path.

    But on this we can agree — no more elementary ed. majors!! A poor career choice for women that can acheive more. Of course those who feel drawn to it as their chosen profession should do so, but otherwise I think there are better options, such as those you mention.

  258. Steve–

    Hmmm, I admit that I don’t have hard stats–does anyone? I know that at any given time 30% of LDS women are single, but of course, many of those have kids. (Then again, some married women don’t.) Anyone?

  259. And of course I meant that the idea that 80% of YW eventually have kids seem high…..

    But even if we assume an 80% rate, gosh, when we’re talking about career goals and dreams, do we really want to tell women that certain paths should be closed off because they’re meant for child-bearing? As a corollary, would you want to instruct the young men to forget silly, non-profitable lines of work because they’re to be primary breadwinners?

    All this seems wrong to me, although I also have problems with gender determinism.

  260. Steve, I don’t think there are any achievements greater than being a really good elementary school teacher. However, I think there are lots of people who do it for reasons other than really, really wanting to, and they shouldn’t be encouraged to do it with the notion that it’s a particularly family-compatible career.

  261. No, Kristine, I was clumsy earlier — I didn’t mean to demean the profession, I think teaching is very noble and worthwhile. My basic point was that you’ve just said so well in your second sentence in #294.

    two hundred and ninety-four. good grief.

  262. Steve, I guess I am more of a pragmatist than you are. If I were in a position to offer advice to a YM *or* a YW, I would probably tell them to keep their interest in playing drums, painting, or doing performance art as a hobby and to major in something that will bring home the bacon. Yes, I am an awful person who would squash someone’s creative potential. Yes, YM should avoid nonprofitable lines of work. I believe in playing the odds, and the odds are that after he runs up student loans to support his art history major, he’ll end up with a crummy job. He probably won’t have time to pursue his interest, anyway. Whereas if he chose a profitable major, (art history minor??) he might have time to indulge his interest on the side. This conversation reminds me of the proverbial attorneys who quit their day jobs to be ski lift operators so they can spend all their time on the mountain. They end up spending all their time on the mountain, of course, but they never get to ski.

    As far as ‘certain paths closed off’, again, I am a realist. You’ll note that I didn’t say YW should avoid medical degrees, but rather that _within their chosen field_ they should consider specialties more conducive to family life. Similarly, a YW with an interest in law should go to law school, but she might consider an area of specialization that gives her the *option* of a more flexible career.

    I do not believe in gender essentialism; in any case, I’m not sure how that is relevant here.

  263. What the heck. I’m throwing this in.

    Woody Allen wrote a humorous short story about a business that pimps out attractive female graduate students to men who are longing for deep non-commital intellectual discussions. It’s called “The Whore of Mensa” (from the book Without Feathers) and should be good for a few laughs. Here’s the link:

    And here’s a teaser:

    “I’m on the road a lot. You know how it is – lonely. Oh, not what you’re thinking. See, Kaiser, I’m basically an intellectual. Sure, a guy can meet all the bimbos he wants. But the really brainy women – they’re not so easy to find on short notice.”

  264. Wow. Julie, you are indeed a pragmatist compared to me. Trust me, indulging interests on the side while you have a crappy day job is not too fulfilling.

    I’ll try not to get too much into gender essentialism, because I know you don’t think that’s a necessary implication from the Proclamation (though I think your position is otherwise inconsistent and otherwise needs to be fleshed out in a different thread, hosted at BCC).

  265. You wrote, “Trust me, indulging interests on the side while you have a crappy day job is not too fulfilling.”

    I’m not sure what your interests are (and not sure I want to know after that wishlist business), but most people’s interests are not profitable. At least a crappy day job pays the bills. Don’t you like to eat :)

    You wrote, “though I think your position is otherwise inconsistent and otherwise needs to be fleshed out in a different thread, hosted at BCC”

    bring it on, buddy.

  266. Thanks for the ideas on solutions! Especially the notion that elementary ed should not be considered the default family-friendly vocation of choice (for those not already inclined to teach). I welcome additional ideas for family-friendly fields now and in the foreseeable future.

    Come to think of it, I know a woman who is a therapist with an MS in social work. It’s a second source of income in her family, her counseling office is in their home, and if she limits her case load sufficiently, she pretty much gets to choose her “office hours”. In today’s world, there are plenty of clients.

  267. Lisa- You commented “And as for Kelly, your pain is real, the burdens you bear are heavy, I don’t doubt that one bit.” Quite frankly, I am not sure what pains you are speaking of. If it was my comment about wanting to take my life, that was years ago, and as I said, it was fleeting. In other words, I got over it. As for the burdens I bear, they are not more or less than any other husband/father trying to provide for his family. It is my calling here on earth, and I do it with pleasure, and where I can, I put the burdens I cannot bear at the feet of the Savior.

    Someone made the comment that he lives for his children. This is a high and lofty goal, one that more men should follow. I realize I may be a bit of a rogue, but personally, I live for my wife. My children come in a very close second. Why? Because in the end, when I am living, hopefully in the celestial kingdom, eternally, it will be with my wife at my side. Hopefully, my children will be with their spouses. So the relationship I have with my wife is the most important earthly relationship I can develop. And hopefully the example I set will serve my children well as they begin developing relationships with their future spouses.

    Kristine- I am not sure what I am supposed to apologize for; having an opinion about something? If that opinion offends, I am sorry, but I am disinclined to retract my statement. If you feel it necessary to censure me, then I count myself in the good company of others whose opinions have been censured, like Joseph Smith, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, etc.

    BTW, Kristine, how is it that you are able to demand an apology on the part of another blogger when that blogger, herself, has not demanded an apology?

  268. “I count myself in the good company of others whose opinions have been censured, like Joseph Smith, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, etc.”

    LOL, dude. L-O-L.

  269. Because I help administer the site, Kelly, which includes asking that people observe the commenting rules, which enjoin personal attacks.

  270. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of administration … (j/k)

    I don’t identify with the party (or parties) being rebuked and I haven’t used profanity yet. But phrases like “you have been warned” and “apologize or be deleted” ultimatums are making me feel like I’m at risk for high school detention. Then again I should say that I find Kristine’s threat of using of admin powers to be refreshing in a mostly male-dominated blogosphere.

    I speak the truth boldly, just like Malcolm X.

  271. The apologize or be deleted comment was a mistake–I’d have deleted myself, except that people had already responded by the time I came to my senses.

    I still think that Kelly’s initial response to Lisa was way beyond the bounds of civility; I wish we could handle strong sentiments and address ideas that people hold passionately without feeling the need to pass judgment or call people to repentance–we just don’t know each other well enough to do that. And I wish I were more patient.

  272. Kristine,

    I was trying to be funny and at the same time say “take a chill pill everybody!” I’m sorry if that last comment I made came across as mean-spirited in any way.

  273. Women are jerks.

    Just trying to add some fuel to the thread. It now ranks number three on the most popular list.

  274. Random trivia: I don’t know about the fertility of LDS women or American LDS women, but the latest data for American women from the Census Bureau indicate that about 18 percent of women ages 40 to 44 (assumed, by demographers, to be at the end of their child-bearing years) in 2002 had never had a child, compared with 10 percent in 1976.

  275. Justin–

    Hey, that isn’t random trivia–it answers my question with Steve above: unless trends change (which they might), we’d expect 80% of those YW to have a child at some point (unless the numbers are different for LDS . . .).

  276. Justin and Julie:

    Studies indicate that marital sexuality leads to childreariing. Anything that stands in the way of that interferes with it. Egotism, worldliness, egocentricity, etc. I have heard enough “buts” in this forum to make me think I was at a chili cookoff.

    Men that belittle women are little. Women that belittle the childrearing process are little. Ultimately our sexual organs belong to Heavenly Father…best to use them often and wisely.


  277. I have been following this thread with great interest and amusement.
    Without being snarky or condescending, I admit that I, too, used to be a young, excitable, upwardly mobile woman-consumed with the unfairness of it ALL. Makes me smile to think how importantly I thought my opinion should be taken and makes me cringe when I remember being resentful of prophetic counsel.
    To make a long story short, I complained, but obeyed, and I have been blessed for it-just like I was promised I would be. Strange how that works (sort of like the scriptures say it will?)
    Here’s my question:
    Is it at all possible that our own ambitions and desires are causing us to *actively seek out* loopholes and wiggle room in the Proclamation?

    btw-Thank You to those who comment with formal politeness, as Jim F. has suggested in another thread. It does seem to minimize misunderstandings and make the intellectual discussion easier to follow.

  278. I have been working at various tasks around the home all day and am getting to this rather late.

    This thread seems to be running out of passion ( or maybe it is because I am very tired. It is in the early hours of the morning.) Mellowing out may be just what is needed at this point. Perhaps a good dose of Country Western might help connect with the lives of a broader segment of the population (grin).

    Back to the thread…
    Melissa does have a real challenge. She said that she wants an intellegent, educated, temple worthy male. Not a particularly easy thing to find at this stage of her life. For example, In the S.L. Valley the ratio of single women 30 and over, with temple recommends, to single males over 30, with temple recommends, is about 7 to 1. How many of those males are way above average in intellegence and education? At what about their attitudes about home and family? Because of our theology, religious values, and culture, my guess is that most committed L.D.S. want to have kids with a wife who would be more committed to being home with the kids than to a career. ( I saw a study someplace recently that indicated that L.D.S. with temple marriages have more kids than L.D.S. couples without temple marriages.) Ambiguity about having kids, with a 7 to 1 ratio for those 30 and older, hanging over her head, puts an active L.D.S. woman wanting a temple marriage at a real disadvantage. While there are probably some men out there like Melissa’s father, I only know of one or two, and they are already married.

    Back to Dowd’s comment about “powerful women”… This thread seemed to begin with the assumption that “powerful women” by definition had to have significant graduate or professional degrees and have full time careers outside the home. I think that Julie’s forceful posts have demonstrated some other definitions of what constitutes power. Through her own power of well reasoned arguements and skillful use of language she has raised serious doubts about the adequacies of Dowd’s definitions of “a powerful woman

    Dowd’s seems to lament that “powerful women” don’t attract men very well who want to become husbands. It seems to me that Inherent in Dowd’s essay is a fair amount of male bashing and self pity. Neither attract men very well. Perhaps Dowd could have learned some things from Julie about how to be married and have a family while still being “powerful.”

    In an earlier post I made a comment about teenagers with two career parents (who happened to live in on the east and west coasts) keeping a residential school for troubled teenages full of students (patients?). It is not the geography that is the issue. What I was trying to say was that cultural values have consequences. (a good book on the regional cultural roots of the U.S.A. is Albion Seed, by an American scholar at Cambridge U. ) I was not saying that all teenagers from that grow up in coastal states become delinquent. (I say this as one who grew up and went to graduate school in a coastal state). Occasionally in this tread some have made comments about “Utah culture.” Well, other areas have cultures too. Not that everybody in a region buys into the prevailing culture where they live. But some do. While others look at the prevailing culture around them and react against it. Still, I think that some people on the coasts would see themselves as having a slightly different culture from those that live what some would call the “flyover zone.”

    It seems to me that Dowd may be a captive of her cultural preconceptions of what makes a woman “powerful.” That definition and its attendant attitudes may explain the lack of marriagable males she and her friends have found. Even in a liberal bastion like N.Y.C. I think that marriage patterns and immigration patterns offern some of the most interesting insights into what people value most.

    It is very late. Blame the typos and mushy thinking on a sleepy brain..

  279. Post 315 reminds me of something: Often single women in the church are reminded that, if faithful, they will be rewarded with a husband here or in the afterlife. Since some women believe that working outside the home is not a righteous goal (i.e. something that should be incidental and not a life objective or avocation), many single LDS women don’t make higher education a priority.

    So some of these single women go from dead end job to dead end job, making “goals” each year to get married (to whom? How can one really have a goal to get married? Don’t they need boyfriends first?). They don’t seek college or -higher education because they find eventually that they can’t afford it or they think they should “concentrate on marriage.”

    The saddest thing to me is to see a thirty-something single LDS woman (still) with only a high-school education, thinking that her choices are making her “righteous” when all along she is stunting her own intellectual, social and emotional growth. It almost becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy.

    There are thousands of these “sweet sisters” (hundreds of thousands?) in the Church. And when righteous priesthood holders, for whatever reason, get divorced and seek remarriage, they are not looking for these thirty-something nannies or grocery checkers. They’re looking for divorced women with more life experience.


  280. Steve- I am going to take the LOL in your post to mean “Lots of Love”. I realize I am an intellectual and spiritual pigmy to Joseph and Martin, but like Rosa, I am just a commoner, one who believes in, and stands for, my opinions.

    As for civility, I really don’t know of any comments I made that have been otherwise. If anyone can point out the specifics, in context, I will stand corrected, and do so with only the greatest of humility.

    Yours truly not wishing to create a fuss, but seems to anyway,

    Kelly Knight

  281. Kelly,

    Steve was laughing at the absurdity of you putting yourself in the same company as the Restoration Prophet or the pre-eminent African-American civil rights leaders in our history.

    Maybe you’re not yet familiar with internet acronyms. LOL is the acronym for “laugh out loud.” ROTFL stands for “rolling on the floor laughing” (I think … haven’t used that one yet myself).

    Also, you don’t have to sign your name to the end of your posts. It will show up when you fill in the required fields (as you have been doing).

  282. Julie: Hey, that isn’t random trivia–it answers my question with Steve above: unless trends change (which they might), we’d expect 80% of those YW to have a child at some point (unless the numbers are different for LDS . . .).

    This is my speculation, but I’d suspect that fewer LDS women are childless than American women generally, so 80% seems to be a safe number. With regard to trends, the figures for childlessness among American women from 2002 (18%) represent a slight drop from the 2000 figures (19%).

  283. SheHun, I find it a very sad (because I am slightly senile and can’t come up with a better word, but one of you guys will, I’m sure find a long complicated term for it) note that you felt you had to put your IQ in your post. How high does it have to be to qualify to post here, guys, huh?

    On the other topic: I don’t work, haven’t for a long time, don’t want to. I wanta sit here on my butt at the computer and spend all my waking hours reading your wise, pithy, also sometimes conceited posts. You guys get so busy making your point that you miss the point or go all around it.

    But I’ll tell you this: the day my last child moved out of the house was the second happiest day of my long life.

  284. Brothers Danithew and Kelly, it is also worth noting that internet acronyms violate point 6 of the comment policy.

  285. danithew,

    I have been around the internet since its inception, and understand all too well the meaning of LOL. However, I choose to believe the meaning I have given it rather than the meaning normally attached.

    As for EQUATING myself with Joseph and Martin, I fully acknowledged that I am not on the same spiritual or intellectual plane. However, my opinions and willingess to vocalize those opinions has come under the same scrutiny as theirs, and I have been called upon to apologize for those opinions.

    And in the event you haven’t noticed, I normally do not sign my name. This time I did as a matter of emphasis to my closing.

  286. “Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”

    This comment was made by Sister Margaret D. Nadauld, “The Joy of Womanhood,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 14. I thought it appropriate to this conversation.

  287. Kelly, no one called on you to apologize for your opinions. You were (and are) being asked to apologize for the unwarranted personal judgment you passed on Lisa, the snide suppositions you made about her marriage, and for the contemptuous way in which you voiced your opinions (e.g. “if you’re so shallow you can’t see…”).

  288. She also said this: “Fathers, husbands, young men, may you catch a vision of all that women are and can be. Please be worthy of God’s holy priesthood, which you bear, and honor that priesthood, for it blesses all of us.”

  289. Kristine,

    Quite honestly, I don’t remember the exact text I used, nor am I going to go back through all of the posts to find the one you are specifically referring to. If you wish to point it out by number, I would be happy to go back and read it in context.

    However, I would ask the question, if the things she claimed as being true were true, whether applied to herself or others (and I was not alone in believing she spoke in the first person), are they not things that counselling would help remediate? For instance, if the wife had less cash than her husband, would not financial counselling help both of them understand that they are equal partners in the home and neither should be left wanting?

  290. Kristine,

    If found the post to which you refer, now let’s put this in context. Lisa went through a whole litany of issues that are problematic for women, and in the first person plural made it sound as though this was her particular plight.

    In response to this, I did not chastise Lisa, but rather I chastised her husband for not correcting the problems, and suggested that if he hadn’t she should consider counseling. “If this is your lot in life, AND YOUR HUSBAND HAS NOT TAKEN STEPS TO CORRECT IT, then you both need serious counseling.” Tell me, am I really wrong for this suggestion? Based on what she said, if this is the life she has been subjected to, and her husband has not corrected it, would not counseling be a source of direction?

    Again, there was not snide supposition. I only read her complaint and took it at face value.

    The second remark to which you make reference went like this, “Less glory? You are co-creaters with God. What greater glory can a woman have than to be the conduit through which God creates life? Are you really so shallow that you cannot see your direct connection with Diety?” Okay, perhaps the “are you really so shallow” part might have read simply “can you not see your direct connection with Diety?” and been better accepted. But when taken in full context of the entire statement, do I not lift women in general to a place next to God in the glory they bring Him through child-bearing and raising?

    In the final analysis, Kristine, I am sorry that you have so completely misread my intent that this tit-for-tat has even ensued. My apologies.

  291. Kelly,

    First of all, when people are talking about their own *particular* plight, they generally use the first person singular.

    Even if one properly reads Lisa’s words as somehow including her own situation, you can’t offer advice to someone unless you’ve assumed that you are superior to her in wisdom and perception about her situation. You don’t hold up your own family as an example unless you think you are superior. You don’t make soothing noises to a woman about how shortlived the pain of childbirth is unless you think she somehow can’t put things into perspective herself. (My own opinion is that men should generally keep their mouths shut about the pain of childbirth, unless they’re with women they know very, very well). You can’t “lift women up” unless you think they don’t stand next to you as equals.

    Everything about what you said there, and everything you’ve said since, suggests that you regard yourself as smarter and more righteous than Lisa and all the rest of us. In general, folks around here are pretty smart and pretty well-grounded in the gospel and eager to have a *discussion* with their peers. Nobody really likes being preached to.

  292. You know what, we need to get back to the origin of this thread. Melissa asked the following questions and statements: “Still, the basic conclusion is that a man would rather marry a subordinate. Where do Mormon men come down on this?”

    This Mormon man married every bit his equal, if not his better.

    “Of course, we know that LDS women are counseled not to postpone marriage or childbearing and to stay home with their children once they come, so it is perhaps rare that single LDS women are in the law firm, board room, or science labs in the first place. But, to the extent that they are, or could be, what do Mormon men think?”

    This Mormon man thinks that LDS women should gain as much education and status as time and opportunity will allow.

    “How do you actually feel about dating and marrying your intellectual or professional equals?”

    Again, I did marry an intellectual equal. And since my profession at the time we married was somewhat undecided, and my wife had chosen at the time to work as a receptionist, we were basically “professional equals” as well.

    “Perhaps all of you happily married men out there believe that you and your spouse are equally yoked where native intelligence is concerned.”


    “But, what if your wife were better educated than you? ”

    Actually, my wife had more formal education than I did when we married. Her understanding of politics far exceeds that of mine, and quite frankly most people I know. She can do just about anything she sets her mind to, and do it well. Most of that did not come through formal education, however, but through constant reading and an effort to better herself.

    “What if your wife consistently made more money than you or had a more prestigious position than you?”

    When I was unemployed, but wife made infinitely more money than me, for which I was eternally grateful. That position did not last, however, as we made a choice, together, that should my income ever come to equal ours together, she would come home. So I have no real experience with this.

    “When you were dating (or if you still are) were (are) you attracted to women who had (have) ambitious professional goals?”

    Actually, I dated a professional woman 10 years my senior, the only child of a millionaire couple. I had hopes of marriage, and held out for 2.5 years before I woke up one morning and realized it was never going to happen.

    “Is intellectual parity less threatening than professional parity? If so, why?”

    Intellectual parity means being able to come home from work and have a stimulating conversation with your spouse, one who understands your, and whom you understand. It goes along ways toward building the kind of relationship we hope to have into the eternities. Professional parity may also bring a degree of strength and understanding. In the end, the real question that must be raised is “are we going to have children, and if so, how are we going to raise them? Is one of us willing to give up a career and stay home with them so they are brought up the way we want them to be raised, or leave it to a nanny or day care center? Professionally speaking, my wife and I are on a par. I am a professional project manager, and my wife is a professional homemaker.

  293. Kelly,

    I visited your blog and it seem alright except for one thing. You sign it as “Kelly Knight, LDser” … that “LDSer” looks too much like it could be another word. So I’d change that moniker. Just a thought.

  294. Kristine,

    You and I could go on and on and on over this and nothing will be gained. If you, as a blog administrator, feel the need to censure me there is nothing I can do about it. You hold your opinions, and I hold mine. It is unlikely that the twain shall ever meet.

    Suffice it to say that, in context of this thread in particular, I hold women in very high regard. In the very post I made to Lisa I clearly placed women next to God, and understand all too clearly the need to reverence women for the position they hold in the kindom of God.

    I am sorry that you and I will likely remain at odds…

  295. danithew,

    I am not sure what other word you see, but I am comfortable with what I have selected. Thank you for visiting the site, and voicing your opinion, however.

  296. I feel like I should say something, but I’m not exactly sure what . . . .

    First I would like to nominate danithew as Miss Congeniality for life. For this he will recieve a tiara, a sash, and a year supply of chapstick.

    And Kristine, if you ever go to war, I would honored to be a peon following you into battle. You’ve got some serious mojo sister.

    And Kelly, what to say . . . sigh . . . as far a your burdens and pain, I was only trying legitimize the burdens you mentioned, burdens that many men carry. My husband just lost his job on Thursday and watching him worry about his obligations to us . . . Yes good men carry heavy burdens. That’s all I was saying.

    As for the rest . . . well when you mistook “the burden of sex” to mean my opinion of actual sexual relations, I pretty much figured the converstion wasn’t headed anywhere useful. And to bring up WIC as an example of how women are privileged? I can’t even begin to start to commence to brush the surface of what is wrong with that.

    Moving on.

  297. Lisa,

    I don’t look good in a tiara and I’m scared of getting addicted to chapstick and then having to go through withdrawal (it’s terrible, really). But I appreciate it.

    Let honor be given to Kristine. :)

  298. Kelly,
    I’m just guessing which word Danithew almost saw in #333. At first I thought LSDer. (Any Mormon in the 70s has heard that before.) But then I had to laugh when I nearly saw “loser” myself. Obviously that label does not apply.

  299. Darnit Mark. :) I could have responded to Kelly’s earlier comment a little more but I believed he was only feigning ignorance. Besides, I have observed how steadfast, firm and immovable he is.

  300. Mark,

    Thank you. Actually, after I thought about it for awhile, I realized what danithew was seeing. Someone famous somewhere in time said something like “we tend to see things from a predetermined point of view, and what we see becomes our reality”. I, too, thought about the LSDer, having grown up in the 60-70’s, and there have been times in my life that I have looked at myself as a LOSer. But now, I see only LDSer.

    The story is told of two friends that would walk to work each day, Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith. Everyday, the two would stop at a newstand where the stand owner would mumble “waddaya want?”. Every morning, Mr. Jones would say “The Morning News, please”, and handing the owner 50 cents, offer a smile and a hearty thank you. One day, Mr. Smith asked Mr. Jones how he could be so kind to this sorry excuse for a store owner, to which Mr. Jones replied “I chose to act, not react.”

    When I first heard this story, I decided that I would try really hard to act, not react. Unfortunately, I occasionaly get caught up in the moment and sucked into banter where I would be better not to tread, but for the most part, my life is better by following this advice.

    A couple of years ago, I picked up a saying by R A Tillinghast that goes like this: “Do not wallow in the mire of past indescretion. Rather, press forward with courage, having faith in a future full of hope and possibility.” Though I find myself from time to time wishing that things would have been different in life, I take courage from this saying and strive only to look to the future, one that is bright, hopeful, and promises great things for those who seek the Lord and strive to live in a positive, uplifting, encouraged world.

    Wow, did I ever stray from my original thought in thanking Mark. Oh well…

  301. Lisa- My heart goes out to you and your husband. I have lost jobs, and quit jobs, and it can be a very trying time. Several weeks ago I made what I thought was a huge mistake at work and thought for sure I was destined to lose my job. I went for weeks treading Wednesdays because that was normally the day one would get fired, being the end of the pay period.

    One day I decided that I was expending far too much energy on worrying about something that I could not control, so I offered a prayer to my heavenly Father that went something like “Father, I can only do the best I can do with what I have and that is what I will do. I am simply too exhausted of worrying about whether or not I will get fired, which is something I cannot control, so I choose to place that burden at Your feet. I will work hard, and do my best, but the rest is up to You.”

    I know that God loves you and your husband, and when you turn your plight over to Him, it will surprise you what He can and will do for you.

    My last piece of advice, for what it is worth, is that all of us continue to be generous in our contributions to the Church Fast Offerings. My wife and I can attribute virtually all of the blessing we enjoy to our willingness to contribute according to the admonition of Pres. Hinckley.

    My prayers are with you. BTW, what profession is your husband in? Perhaps I am aware of some contacts or opportunities that he might take advantage of.

  302. I don’t know if this is against this blogs policies or not, and if I am wrong for doing this, I apologize in advance and accept your condemnation. However, something came up in priesthood meeting a couple of weeks ago that I have been thinking about, and as it has nothing to do with any of the blogs on this site, have posted my thougts on my own site. I would love to have feedback to “Blessings” for those who might be interested in commenting. Just click on my name below.


  303. I’m addicted to chapstick. No joke. I can go maybe 15 minutes without reapplying, and then my lips are dry enough to make me surly.

  304. Original post
    “Of course, we know that LDS women are counseled not to postpone marriage or childbearing and to stay home with their children once they come…”

    Comment #82
    “Still, I could actually stay single!! The truth is that I actually like being single. If I really wanted to be married I could be, but I’m not because I’m pretty happy with my life the way things are.”

    Are powerful women at a disadvantage?

  305. Re 348: Why, yes. If sex is power, single women are the least advantaged. Nuff said.

  306. I just wanted to point out, for those that missed it, the nice article in the Church News this weekend about a sister in Nauvoo who is a mother with four young children and a practicing physician. She was nominated for the state of Illinois’ Rural Physician of the Year (or something along those lines). It was a very nice article that discussed how she and her husband had consciously looked for a rural opportunity because of the ways in which it allowed them to help manage her practice out of the same office as the family’s marketing business. It was a nice look at a family that had clearly carried out a diaglogue about how each member of the family could best realize his or her potential while putting family first. The oldest daughter, who based on the picture can’t have been much more than 10, was quoted about the fact that all of them have to pull together to make Mom’s practice feasible, but that it really was a meaningful thing and they enjoyed doing it. When viewed in light of the fact that this was in an official church publication, I think it is an interesting anecdote to be used in interpreting where the church stands on the issues discussed in this thread.

  307. A dynamic that Dowd and this discussion have completely missed is class. Though men might be willing to marry their intellectual inferiors, upper class men are very, very rarely willing to marry their socioeconomic inferiors. Think carefully of the well educated men you know who married less educated women. I’m certain you’ll find that almost all of those women have fathers who are as well educated as their husbands. Both poorly educated and well educated women from upper class families tend to marry upper class men.

    I think this is what primarily accounts for the parsity of well educated women who marry less educated men. Sure, it may be partly a result of the discomfort both genders share about an unusual arrangement of intellectual power. But I suspect that it has more to do with class. No self-respecting upper-class man can get away with no pushing his educational opportunities to their utmost, though sometimes upper class women can. If an upper-class woman wants a man of similar class, therefore, her only options will be men with good educations.

    In my case, this might have had some real significance. I am a first generation college student, from a wonderful working class family, and neither of my siblings have chosen to go to college. I’m now at an Ivy League law school. Marrying someone from my same class with a high school education would have been very easy and natural given the kinds of girls with whom I grew up and to whom my parents and friends introduced me. Had I done so, however, someone no doubt would have chalked me up as yet another brute who prefers stupid women. But that wouldn’t have been it at all–I was simply oblivious before I started law school of the importance well-educated and monied people place on marrying someone of similar status.

  308. Hmmm. I stumbled on this place accidentally. I come late to the party, too, I guess. But if I’m just talking to myself, that’s fine – I’m my best audience. Frankly, my dears, I am not attracted to ambitious men at all. Hard working ones, yes. Intelligent, funny, imagiinative, spiritual ones, yes. But not ambitious ones. I am inclined, also, to question the Dowd’s- or anybody’s – meaning when they refer to “powerful” people, being moved more by the power of gentle civility and kindness than of – what – the ability to manipulate, to stick to task, to obsess over success, to “win.” Dickens’ villains were often of this stripe, while his heroes tended to rise above such a shallow kind of life,

    Put a woman in the role, and it becomes really frightening. I can say this because I, myself, am a female – educated, powerful enough to frighten the faint-hearted (oh, rah-rah for that). I don’t like ambitious women any more than I like ambitious men – less, in fact. They seem unnatural to me – as though there were some deeper thing missing, leaving them on a level with the score-counters.

    I like people who think about people first.

    That probably leaves Dowd out, from what I’ve seen…

  309. hello,my name is sam.well i am househusband.i am sara were both in sam college.After college we independently find the job.she find job as a sports teacher and i didnt get any.we were in love .we decided to marry.but we were tensed about financial situation.but she was earning we decided to get marry and thought that some point of time i would definately get job.but that point never came.sara was always busy in his work ,so i started doing house hold chores.and i became househusband.she started earning more ,so left thought of geting job.Becouse her salary is now more than sufficient for us.she has became more powerful now.i love supporting her.she has became more athletic than before with muscles.she is very much fit .and also became quite dominant.she loves overpowering me with every sense financially,physically,emotionally.and i tooo love it.
    Firstly i was uncomfartable being dependent on wife,but now i have learnt how to deal with it.i love it.
    if any one who want to say some thing to me pls mail me
    my mail address is

    [email protected]

    if any one who r similar like me please send me mail.i would love to know about you

  310. hello,my name is sam.well i am househusband.i am sara were both in sam college.After college we independently find the job.she find job as a sports teacher and i didnt get any.we were in love .we decided to marry.but we were tensed about financial situation.but she was earning we decided to get marry and thought that some point of time i would definately get job.but that point never came.sara was always busy in his work ,so i started doing house hold chores.and i became househusband.she started earning more ,so left thought of geting job.Becouse her salary is now more than sufficient for us.she has became more powerful now.i love supporting her.she has became more athletic than before with muscles.she is very much fit .and also became quite dominant.she loves overpowering me with every sense financially,physically,emotionally.and i tooo love it.
    Firstly i was uncomfartable being dependent on wife,but now i have learnt how to deal with it.i love it.
    if any one who want to say some thing to me pls mail me
    my mail address is

    [email protected]

    if any one who r similar like me please send me mail.i would love to know about you

  311. I recently started at BYU. I am also one of the relatively few female premed students here. I went to a private high school, and there, my ambitions were encouraged. As soon as I got here, I heard numerous comments along the lines of “How are you going to be a doctor and a mom?” or “Oh, in a year, some guy will sweep you off your feet.” Clearly, these people do not really know me. First of all, it has been my life’s ambition to be a doctor since I was 6, and no one ever questioned that until now. Quite frankly, raising kids is not a primary concern at the moment–in ten years, sure. Additionally, I don’t think I’m going to become the dating queen overnight, so the whole swept-off-my-feet doesn’t seem reasonable either. Also, when my peers say they want 7 kids and I say maybe 3, that is frowned upon. Not wanting a dozen kids or wanting to go to med school doesn’t weaken my testimony or make me a bad Latter-day Saint! Several of my (freshman) roommates and acquanintances attend wedding expos and prefer RMs to guys our age and the like. To me, all this seems silly–we’re in college, why should we be worried about kids and wedding dresses and all that? But I see all the pregnant women and strollers on campus, and then I remember: oh yeah, it’s BYU.

    In my experience, for most the girls I know, the number of guys that date or are interested in them is inversely proportional to how much they study/how hard their major is/etc. One factor could be that the smarter or more hard-working girls might not have as much time or interest to invest in that–i.e., they have lives beyond “hot guys.” But I think that the whole guys-being-intimidated-by-smart-girls, girls-should-be-domestic thing does factor into that. My experience is that the smart, hard-working guys I would be interested in see me as test score competition, not date material. Our conversation is usually academic. But if they’re Mormon, they still seem to have this Perfect Mormon Housewive expectation. For instance one guy I like (a lot) told me, “I thought you would be good at that kind of thing–sewing–y’know, girl stuff.” See, he’s a premed, does well in school (not to mention spiritual and good-looking)–why wouldn’t I like him? But he would never like me, because he just wouldn’t see me that way–just a girl he had to one-up on math tests. A different guy wouldn’t let me carry a very light TV, and seemed pleased when I (sarcastically) acted like a damsel in distress. I know all guys don’t have these expectations of domesticity, but I do think it is a part of our Mormon culture.

    I just think that Mormons need to realize that it’s not the 1950s and women might want other joys besides the Joys of Motherhood and Wife . . . hood. There’s a time and place for everything, and I don’t think 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds should be rushing into marriage. I think it’s hard to find a balance in our culture: it seems if you’re not one extreme, then you’ll become the other–i.e., the 35-yr-old woman who has been divorced three times, lives with her boyfriend, has had numerous abortions, and smokes a pack a day (but has a successful career!).lady to be my future, but it’s not that hard to imagine myself single, because if marriage isn’t your #1 priority at this school, then it’s not one at all.

    Well, that’s just my (limited) experience, but here is a thought. For all you intelligent, applying-yourself guys out there, it wouldn’t kill you to like/ask out a girl with similar intellect and ambitions. Because there probably is one out there who likes you, and she may not be the hottest girl you know, but at least you could have a decent conversation. If a girl wants to be an MFHD major, that’s her business, all I know is that I am sick of my wanting to go to college to get an education (gasp)–and not just for a “back-up plan”–of this being seen as a strange anomaly.

  312. By the way, the article and such seem to primarily concern marriage. My experience obviously, only extends to the types of girls guys like, date, or flirt with or whatever. Marriage could be a whole different story.

  313. Where it says “lady” 6 lines from the bottom, I meant to put: “I know there is a middle ground, these are just the two extremes our society seems to make us choose between. Obviously, I don’t want the pack-a-day lady . . .” Yeah, I left out just a tad.

    Oh, and too bad this whole debate took place in January. Come back!

  314. Welcome to the blog, Charly. This thread may be more or less dormant, but don’t worry — lengthy discussions about women in the church tend to crop up on a monthly basis (at least!) around here. (Ditto for many other topics — some of the usual suspects include abortion, homosexuality, politics, and apologetics).

  315. Sorry-one last thing–what with careers/children, etc., you adults sure have a lot of time to blog on the Internet! (ha ha)

  316. Hey Kaimi! Thanks for responding. If any of you older and wiser folks have any insights on the wonders of BYU freshmen girls and RMs, i would welcome them.

  317. Charly,

    I personally wish I’d dated A LOT less than I did at BYU. I did a lot of dating in college and most of it was a waste of time (with some important exceptions, of course). Stay focused on your goals. Throw yourself into your studies (if that is what you are passionate about right now) and trust that the right man will find you at the right time.You have lots of time for marriage and children, but if you want to be a doctor you need to focus your attention on your classes. You wouldn’t want to marry someone who didn’t respect and admire your ambitions because he wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice to help you achieve them. The men worthy of you will value your intellect and your accomplishments. Those who don’t are not only not likely to be attractive/attracted to you, but are also probably incompatible with you. Having said that, however, stay close to the Spirit and be willing to follow the counsel you receive from Him through the Spirit even if it requires tremendous courage and faith.

    Not sure why I took on the older sister tone in this comment but take it for what it’s worth.

  318. Charly, you may want to consider not being so defensive. By constantly trying to eliminate others’ preconceived notions, you are putting yourself into a category of another preconceived notion. Your friends and acquaintances will think you do not want a boyfriend, do not want to get married, do not want to have kids….just because you keep getting all worked up at their comments. The fact is that some people DO go to BYU and get married. And sometimes they DO get a boyfriend and their grades drop because they are distracted. And sometimes they DO go ahead and get married before they expected to.
    Who knows, it could happen to you. You really aren’t so different than everyone else, and if you constantly say you are then they will think that.
    Go ahead and say “When I find the right guy I’ll be excited to get married.” From what I’ve seen, the only wives who quit school are ones who wanted to quit anyway. The perfect husband doesn’t always show up on the perfect timeline. Mine showed up waaayyyy early.

  319. Charly,
    listen to Melissa. If becoming a doctor is more important to you than marriage and family, you should definite;y concentrate on it,

  320. Adam,

    That’s not at all what I said. I don’t believe being a doctor has to be “more important” to someone than marriage and family to decide to concentrate on school as a first year college student! These are both worthy goals and are not mutually exclusive. What I did suggest was that that the right person at the right time would find her and be supportive of her goals. There are different times and seasons of our lives. Charly is actively pursuing what she calls her “life ambition” and is not, at the moment, prepared for marriage and children. That does not mean these aren’t future goals she cares very much about achieving.

  321. Adam, your statement relies on a false dilemma. Not everything that takes time away from family life is inimical to marriage and family. After all, being a bishop or an auxiliary president or quorum president takes quite a lot away from your family, too. Are you willing to say, “If being a decent bishop is more important to you than marriage and family, you should definitely concentrate on it” or even “If finishing all your tithing settlements is more important to you than marriage and family, you should definitely concentrate on it”?

  322. I repeat, I’m very embarrassed by my old post on this thread. Please disregard it. I’m much nicer than that and not so conceited. I was feeling my power that day. Today I’m humble.

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