Thursday, August 1, 2013

Temples, Feminists, and me (REVISED)

  After rereading some of my previous posts, I got a little irritated.  Especially by the temples, feminist one.  Upon rereading, it just felt fake, forced, and juvenile.  So I have to apologize.  I have to admit I wrote that because I was feeling spiritually empty.  We had just gone to the temple, and I was hoping for something-anything-to make me feel...well...alive in the gospel.  Now that I've had a few weeks to sort things out in my head, here's a revision, with a more honest (and less Molly) opinion.

   I hate going to the temple.  It's something I have always struggled with.  Even when I was 12, doing baptisms for the dead.  I was always told "You learn something every time" or "You can just feel the Spirit so strongly".  The only thing I learned while on those youth trips was that being forced into the white "onsies" 2 sizes too small (I was always a big girl) is embarrassing.  Sitting around watching other people get bulk baptized is boring.  
   It got to the point where I didn't go for years.  I hoped that someday, IF i got married, endowment sessions would be more enlightening.  The thought of learning more, and lots of answers really made me excited.  Clearly there were no answers to be had (at least to me) sitting beside a font with 15 other kids.
   Fast forward to my endowments.  I got them in Nauvoo.  The temple is beautiful, of course, inside and out.  I've heard that the first experience is very overwhelming, and a lot to take in.  I learned in my Temple Prep class that there were layers upon layers of symbols and meaning that I would learn when I was there.  So I was excited.  I love learning.  I'm the annoying question asker that seems to talk just to get people off topic or upset.  
   But anyway, first time there. I'm not going to really comment on anything other than the endowment presentation, because I don't know where the line is (too much about the temple).  I was watching the movie, followed along, but something just felt...off.  It took many return trips to figure out what bugged me.  (Also lurking around fMh)
  Sexism in the temple.  It's rampant.  Women have to sit in the women's side, women have to veil their faces in parts, women swear to be priestesses TO THEIR HUSBANDS, women covenant to follow their husband-as long as he follows God.  What about the individual relationship with God?  It seems like it's not as important as following your MAN. The movie irritated me, too, and I just figured out why.  Satan is the first person to talk to Eve throughout the whole movie.  She shows up, Adam names her, and they apparently, spend a good deal of time not talking, or too near each other.  At least the way the movie portrays it, Eve walks around alone, or with animals, just being pretty.  
   If I had to spend a good deal of time alone, knowing that someone else was in charge of me, you're darn tooting if someone showed up, talked to me like I had a brain, and gave me a CHOICE, I'd be "beguiled" by them, too!  "Thank you, my brother, for treating me like a person, and not a decorative statue!  You make really good points, and I agree with you."  No wonder Eve listened to him!  He treated her with respect and dignity, and not just Adam's arm candy.
   The only other time Eve is talked to (without her starting the conversation) is after Adam accused her.  That's it, as far as I remember.  The rest of the movie, she's just...there...looking pretty, and smiling at the camera while Adam waxes poetic.  It's a bit disturbing, and yet I wondered why so many guys who grew up in the church seem to be sexist jerks; thinking women were to be quiet and pretty.
   
   Another thing I don't understand about the temple: why do both women and men wear the same ceremonial clothes, and say the same things, learn the same signs, if women aren't supposed to have the priesthood? What about the one place where a woman does the blessing?  Is it special, conditional priesthood, so a man doesn't have to be in the women's locker room?  Why is that the only place where women can anoint?  What's the point of women learning all the signs if they aren't authorized to use them?  Think about the names of the signs, the names of the clothes.  It's all about PRIESTHOOD.  What about PRIESTESSHOOD?  I just don't see why women don't have the authority, of sometimes, women already use the authority.  I told my husband that I am never going back to the temple, unless something changes.
  
    I'm a feminist.  Almost militantly so, my husband says.  We stopped going to the Marriage and Family class, because it was so oppressively gender roled.  "Women's roles are in the house"  No, that's not women's roles.  Women's roles should be wherever the woman wants to be, and what works best for her family.  Why do upper-class, old white men, get to decide the proper place for EVERY WOMAN, EVERYWHERE?  Does personality and experience matter less than plumbing?  It's disturbing and misogynistic. Why does some guy that has never met me, or know anything about me, tell me where I should find my peace and happiness?  Who is he to tell me where my place is?  Shouldn't that be a decision between me and my husband?  And why should I feel ashamed that I don't like the idea of Holy Housewife?  Why should I be pitied by those in my ward who "feel so bad that [I] can't know the experience of having a baby".  Well you know what?  I don't want a baby!  Having a baby would mean going off meds.  Having a baby would mean hormonal mood swings that play havoc with bipolar.  Having a baby would mean no sleeping.  Yet, when I explain this, people get a pinched expression and mutter the word "selfish".
   How is it selfish to know my body?  To want to have as much control over my mood swings as I can?  What's selfish about wanting there to be less emotional drama in my house?  (And, case in point, babies do not necessarily equal kids...I'm not saying I don't want kids, I just want older kids. That's why we're getting foster kids)

   In summary, I am more than my breasts and womb.  I am a person with needs, strengths, weaknesses, experiences, personality, and desires.  I shouldn't be pigeonholed into a role that I don't want, simply because of my outward sex characteristics.  Church (culture and doctrine) sometimes makes me feel like I'm a bird in a cage, and someone tells me:
   "Aren't you happy in this beautiful cage?  Your wings showcase your loveliness, that's all they are good for.  Aren't you glad you're protected and safe?  Isn't it nice to know that this gilded cage is your dominion?  How lucky you are!"

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