Subject: Do Mormon women use manipulation to get their way?
Date: Jun 17 10:11 2003
Author: mary ann benson
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I was thinking about Aphrodite's thread about how some GA's claim to never have a cross word with their spouses.

Just my two cents, but I think by the time they reach that level in the hierarchy, the wives are pretty well trained.

I remember sitting next to sister Hinckley, GBH's wife, (sorry I can't think of her name--I think it is Margy--back in those days she was known to me only as Sister Hinckley), at a wedding luncheon. I asked her how it was being married to a GA. Her response stunned and saddened me.

"I learned a long time ago never to question where he was or where he had been." Amazing!

In a related vein, all it took was a "look" from ETB and his family knew what was expected of them. My MIL tried so hard to raise the perfect family for him. Her most common weapon was, "What will Grandfather Benson think?"

She was a master, or should I say mistress, at manipulation. She used tears, and if that didn't work, then guilt, and if that didn't work, then she would triangulate, and if that didn't work, then she appealed to the priesthood authority, namely ETB or even "Heavenly Father".

Shortly after Steve and I were married, he let his hair grow to touch the top of his ears. Now, Steve has nice hair, yet his ears did stick out a little, ;)-- so I was pleased with his new look as I didn't notice his ears so much with his hair barely touching the top of them.

On a visit to SLC to see his family, his mother pulled him into the den for three hours trying to convince him he needed a hair cut before he saw his grandfather. (The Benson boys all had to have their hair off the collar and off the ears.)

Steve held his own. I was proud of him.

She tried the tears, that didn't work, so she tried the guilt, that didn't work. Then I saw something I had never seen before.

She asked Steve to drive her to her hair appointment. He invited me along. MIL drove, Steve sat next to her, and I was in the passenger seat. As she pulled up to the curb outside the salon, she turned to Steve and said that she was going to pray real hard to Heavenly Father while she was getting her hair cut that the spirit would soften his heart, that he would honor and obey his parents, and that when he returned to pick her up he would come in and get his hair cut. (She had called ahead and made an appointment for him right after hers.)

She got out and went inside. Steve was struggling with what she had just said to him. I told him I thought that was the worst case of psychology/spiritual abuse I had ever witnessed.

Steve was a 24 year old man, and here his mother was pulling the "honor your mother" card out, and the "spirit soften your heart" card -- yeah -- like Steve had a hard heart. NO! He just wanted to wear his hair the way he wanted, letting his hair TOUCH the top of his ears!

He didn't cave in to her. She moped around during the rest of our visit, making it known to all how miserable Steve had made her life because he was disobedient.

The next year when we visited them in SLC, she again tried to get him to cut his hair. He politely refused. So she came into the bedroom where I was sitting and appealed to me. "Steve won't obey me, maybe he will listen to his wife. Will you convince him to cut his hair?" I informed her his hair didn't bother me, in fact, I liked it touching his ears. She became indignant and told me how disappointed she was in me, after all "we women need to stick together" and she stormed out of the room.

Well, I have rambled.

I don't remember hearing a "cross" word spoken while I was in the Benson home, but words used to manipulate, and cause fear and guilt reigned supreme. (It could also be that I never heard these words because MIL and FIL would pull Steve into the den for hours at a time when we would visit, leaving me and our children alone in another room.)

So, the Benson women used manipulation to wield power and control over others, since they had no power and control over their own lives.

Be controlled, or be the controller. How sad.

Subject: Sounds just like my Mom
Date: Jun 17 10:22
Author: esteban
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She tried everything but we hastened very infrequently. I think it's a sign of mental illness myself. She is mentally ILL for having done such bizarre actions and thinking she was justified.

I just thank GAWD almighty I wasn't righteous enough in the pre-existence to have made it into the Benson clan...

Subject: Re: Do Mormon women use manipulation to get their way?
Date: Jun 17 10:25
Author: MAD
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I don't think Morg women use manipulation any more than nonTBM women.

Subject: huh?
Date: Jun 17 10:28
Author: esteban
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You really believe that? I suppose in some other ulta-Christian churches the women might act similarly, too.

You got any examples?

Subject: As I speculated in the other thread...
Date: Jun 17 10:43
Author: Nick
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... I think that the skill and necessity for this kind of manipulation arise (for many) out of being disenfranchised. Mormon women have no official voice, no official authority in the community. Yes, there is a relief society, but its authority derives from, and is subject to, the priesthood. At home, women are told that they are subject to the authority of the priesthood-holding head of the household, and that that priesthood holder speaks for God in the home.

So, it seems to me that women in the Mormon world (especially in the corridor) have only a few options: accept that they have no voice (a recipe for despair and depression); fight back, and insist on being heard (a recipe for tension, and usually, eventually, departure - one way or another - from the Mormon community); learn to get what they need and want in more subtle ways (i.e. manipulation).

In my experience (based mostly on my own extended family, and those of my friends), Mormon women seem to take the first and third options more often than most non-Mormon women (at least in the US).

Subject: Have to agree with MAD...
Date: Jun 17 11:28
Author: Davie_boy
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...that Mormon women aren't any more manipulative than non-Mormon women.

I have a mother that was not raised Mormon and I've had plenty of non-Mormon girlfriends to know that subversive tactics (mostly shame) are what women use to keep men in line. Many ancient cultures knew the power a woman (particularly the mother) could wield over her son(s), which is why initiatory rites for boys always involved separating the two for some period of time.

For the pussy-whipped, easily manipulated male of the modern age, I recommend the following books:

- What Men Know That Women Don't: How To Love Women Without Losing Your Soul by Rich Zabaty
- Iron John by Robert Bly
- The Manipulated Man by Esther Vilar (currently out of print)

I recognize this kind of talk is not politically correct, but in the modern Battle of the Sexes, men are running into the fray completely unarmed these days.

Subject: This Board makes me appreciate my parents so much more...
Date: Jun 17 10:53
Author: Shakjula
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Geez. All the pyrotechnics over a haircut? My God, what would she have done if she discovered that Steve was using heroin or engaging in midget-tossing (not that he does)? Your post and those similar to it over the years prove that so many people have no concept of priorities. Hair length really doesn't rank that highly on the scale of human issues.

I think my parents should adopt Ex-Mos. Hell, when they figured out that I stopped going to church, there were a couple conversations about it, but nothing more.

I'll be accepting applications for retroactive adoption via email for those who are interested. Thanks. :-)

Subject: In my extended family- you betcha!
Date: Jun 17 10:56
Author: tri girl
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I come from a long line of matriarchal manipulators- every tool in the book is used to control the family. Guilt, tears, gossip, double edged comments (compliments that are really insults), condescension and outright physical and psychological coercion have been perfected to fine arts. I don't know how many family gatherings, whether it be a simple Sunday dinner or a holiday event, ended with someone in tears or storming off. The only way to escape it is to die or move at least 1,000 miles away.

My grandma is the queen of the manipulators and I think she contributed greatly to my mom's poor health and eventual death. Among my sibs and I, we hope Grandma lives a long long time because our mother needs a break from her. So far it's been 13 years!

I don't know how much a factor the church is but it does give them a lot more ammo to throw. It would be interesting to learn about my female ancestors before they joined the church.

Subject: Yes, that was also used.
Date: Jun 17 11:49
Author: mary ann benson
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The Benson's were very skilled in the use of double edged comments (compliments that are really insults), and of course they said these things with a smile on their face.

I would wonder why I was confused by this. Why on the outside I was supposed to believe it was a compliment, but inside my heart felt like it had been stabbed with a knife?

My family of origin never talked this way. It was foreign to me.

And if I told Steve what had been said to me, he didn't think it was bad and he didn't understand why I was upset. But, it was not just words that they used to communicate with. It was the tone of voice and the body language that betrayed them. Going on words alone, they could not be pinned down. If confronted, they denied they meant any harm by it, and blamed me for being overly sensitive.

sick, sick, sick

So glad I am out of that way of "relating."

Subject: Ah yes- the "you're too sensitive" bit...
Date: Jun 17 13:46
Author: tri girl
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I know that one well too! Outside of my family, I haven't experienced this behavior- my inlaws just tell it like it is or they don't say anything at all- better yet, they just go get another beer!

I also got the "arms folded tightly under their bosoms and cold hard stare" routine. It was even more intimidating when several of the females would stand in a group and do this. Maybe they their bras over their g's weren't supporting them enough!

Subject: I had no idea Steve was such a rebel in his TMB days! Btw, did he ever get a haircut? ;) nt
Date: Jun 17 10:58
Author: Rollo Tomasi
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Subject: NO!!!!!!!!! ;)
Date: Jun 17 11:54
Author: mary ann benson
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Well, yes, he kept it short while we in the morg, but it stayed over his ears!

He didn't grow it long until after we left the morg. I have some great pictures of him really rebelling. Picture him-- long, wavy permed hair, a mustache, cruising down the freeway in a bright red Miata he bought with tithing money listening to 70's rock n' roll music at full volume. Now that is rebelling!:)

Subject: I think they definately do
Date: Jun 17 10:59
Author: Trying Dynamic
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I think many women do.

My belief is that it comes from not having any direct power. The most they can hope for is to manipulate those who DO have power into the appropriate action.

No GA would put up with a wife who put her foot down and demanded something, or a wife who took matters into her own hands and did something without his (read: powerful God-ordained priesthood) permission. She has no right to pull stuff like that.

She has learned over the years that the only way to get his attention is to cry, become emotionally affronted, go behind his back and use subtle sabotage.

This behavior spills over into her parenting. It works so well with hubby after all. Instead of conversing with your children on matters that concern you deeply, you instead cry, tell them how much they are hurting you, play the martyr, make sure they know how miserable you are.

Most people can't stand an emotional tirade so the method works out well, especially if someone would be hurt socially by the stigma of divorce.

Subject: Grandmother's advice about hair
Date: Jun 17 11:13
Author: MRM
Mail Address:

My grandma was not mormon, just from the back hills of Arkansas. When my brother was a teenager his hair was a little over his ears...the fashion of the day. Of course our parents wanted him to get it cut.

My brother asked grandma if she thought he should get a haircut. Grandma replied, "I don't care if your hair gets so long you have to climb a tree to take a shit".

I am glad I was worthy enough to have her for my grandmother. She was cool.

Subject: Even if they did, it would hardly compensate for their loss of control over their own lives in general. (NT)

Subject: Reality check: There were, in fact, cross words uttered now and then in the Benson home . . .
Date: Jun 17 11:24
Author: steve benson
Mail Address:

Mom and Dad would yell at each other--not often, but when they did I remember how loud, drawn out and dramatic it was.

Once, after a particularly intense spat with Dad, my mother ran out on the front lawn and collapsed on the grass. I remember him going out and carrying her back inside, over the threshold, as she cried.

Mom later rounded up all us young kinds and said she was going home to Canada (where her mother lived). I refused to get in the car. Even back then, as an adolescent, I didn't want to be stuck with her for a long drive while she railed against us, Dad and other problems in the world.

She told me how disappointed she was in me for not obeying her, then proceeded to take my sisters and head to the bank to withdraw money for the trip. Trouble was, it was Saturday and the bank was closed. So, Mom ended up not going to Canada.

The day we were married, Ezra Taft Benson, who performed our wedding ceremony, told us in his pre-sealing pep talk never to go to bed, as husband and wife, mad at each other.

Over the years, I have found that advice to be extremely unrealistic and even unhealthy. Huggy-bear, kissy-pooh going-through-the-motions routines force false resolutions and pressure people to "make up" for the sake of appearances, while underneath the surface issues continue to fester, unaddressed and unsolved.

The result can be frustration, pent-up anger, bitterness and a sense that people are being manipulated in order to make others feel better.

We all need time to work through our feelings. We also have a right to those feelings, including healthy expressions of anger.

Mormonism is heavy on the appearance of conflict resolution, when in fact, it exacerbates both internal and outward conflict by emphasizing general "peace" at the expense of individual personality.

Pray, pay and have a happy day.

Subject: Not anymore than any other woman or man who feels powerless. nt
Date: Jun 17 11:54
Author: LauraD.
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Subject: That is the crux of the matter
Date: Jun 17 12:31
Author: Nick
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Without the prospect of a real voice, without the prospect of powerful participation in the world, this kind of manipulation becomes a viable mechanism for attaining and exercising power - not just in Mormon culture, but in any situations where this kind of power imbalance exists.

Some thoughts (which might not be terribly coherent; I didn't sleep well last night):

When this structural power imbalance persists even as an element (e.g. based on gender) of family relationships, the manipulation option is particularly tenacious, because it is passed from generation to generation, taught at a very young age.

Consider the situation where a person is apparently powerless because of a disability. It is (generally) unlikely that this person has a role model with the same disability in the family, from whom the manipulation skills can be learned at an early age; similarly, others in the family without the disability are not likely to learn the manipulation skills from the person with the disability (even if that person has become very skillful).

On the other hand, when (for example) the lack of official power stems from gender (in the context of unbalanced gender roles in the family and the society), it is very likely that a child of the less powerful gender has a role model ready-to-hand: the parent of the same gender. Even in cases where the gender roles are becoming less unbalanced, the manipulation skills (and the perceived necessity to use them) might persist for generations in this fashion. But the process of balancing (in terms of power - legal, financial, etc.) of gender roles, while arguably slow in western society, is positively glacial in Mormon culture (especially in the Mormon corridor), so the perceived necessity of, and skills for, gender-bound manipulation will persist for a long time.

Subject: don't all women who are insecure do this?n/t

Subject: Probably to varying degrees.
Date: Jun 17 12:02
Author: mary ann benson
Mail Address:

I was insecure, BUT

I never used the line, "If you love me, you will ~~fill in the blank", like his mother. That is plain sick!

Subject: Indirect influence and pillow talk
Date: Jun 17 12:22
Author: joan thomas
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Women, who lack direct power and influence in most, if not all, organized religions, political and social organizations all over this earth, resort to the only options left to them to get what they need and desire. Females use 'indirect influence and pillow talk' and other manner of manipulation. It is sad but true. Such creates distrust and misogyny in some men, and make some women devious and depressed. Regardless, denying women equality in all religious, political and social organization retards human growth and joy. It makes most humans sad and disfunctional.

Subject: I joined the church at the age of 23...
Date: Jun 17 12:32
Author: Elaine
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...and my mother, obviously a non-member, put me on a guilt trip that lasted 27 years. I received pages of letters with scripture telling me how wrong I was. After I left the church, her comment was, "You had the most solid religious background of all my daughters. I never could understand how you could join the Mormon church."
How I hate that "I told you so," mentality.

Subject: Classic example of manipulation
Date: Jun 17 12:39
Author: Terrasanct
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in Greek Wedding. I'm sure many of you saw that. The mother convinces the father that he's come up with a great idea on his own, when she thought of it first. Why did she have to be subtle? Because he was the "boss" and wouldn't take suggestions. What does it say about the husband when the wife has to resort to manipulation?

But here's something I want men to understand about crying. Sometimes we just cry because we're SAD or ANGRY, not because we're trying to manipulate you. I don't care if it makes you feel guilty; I don't care if your mother used to do it. For years I didn't feel like I was allowed to cry about anything because I was accused of being manipulative when I did. So--I can't tell you honestly what I want? And when I get frustrated and start crying, I'm trying to get my way? It would be better if both men and women would talk openly about what they want and need.

Subject: Incredible story
Date: Jun 17 13:29
Author: ex-TBM
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An average person outside Mormondom would consider this impossible to believe. I mean, going to such trouble just to get a little hair off the ears.

Subject: Manipulating women
Date: Jun 17 13:52
Author: Kim
Mail Address:

I don't necessarily think that mormon women manipulate or try to manipulate men more than other women, but many of them definitely do it. I have read numerous accounts on this board of men who have lost their belief in mormonism and their TBM wives resort to various emotional and hysterical modes of manipulation to try to get their husbands to not abandon her faith. Time and time again, it seems these men continue attending church just to keep their wives happy or to keep the family peace. All along, the men's desires have to be sacrificed. It's okay for the men to be miserable just as long as their wives are happy.

It's sick on the parts of both the husbands and wives to allow this to happen. I think the men would actually be doing their wives a favor to refuse to participate in the religion that holds no interest for them. Women should respect their husbands for not being hypocrites rather than going along with something in which they have no belief. In time, women who manipulate this way will learn that the world does not indeed revolve around them.

I have to hand it to my own father who refused to cave in to the rantings of my mother who nagged him for years about going to church along with all the warnings of eternal damnation. Eventually, she just conceded that she could not change him. He never ranted and raved about her going to church all the time...why couldn't she give him the same respect for his desire to have nothing to do with church? Eventually, she figured it out. She continues to be a faithful TBM and my father continues to be a non-believer, but they now both respect each others' beliefs. Life in the family is much more pleasant this way.

Subject: Doesn't Seem To Be Restricted To Women Only... [edited out the foul language - sorry moderators]
Date: Jun 17 14:18
Author: Victor LeNettoyeur
Mail Address:

Dear Mary Ann,

One of the most chilling and disturbing stories I've read on this bulletin board would be your husband's description of his father's relationship with him.

I don't know if I could conceive of a time or circumstance when I would actually disown any of my children. Perhaps that's because they are young yet, and haven't had occasion to make me sufficiently angry.

When serial rapists and killers are in court being tried for their crimes, their parents often sit in the row behind them. As bizarre as it might seem to people who do not have children, I can understand and even respect their loyalty and love for the person despite whatever loathsome activities they may have involved themselves in.

When Steve wrote about his father, who threatened to disown him because he had doubts about his faith, I was shocked. My first reaction was that perhaps things were being embellished or exaggerated. Another theory I pondered was perhaps the Benson clan is pathologically dysfunctonal. Unfortunately, there are so many stories floating around this little community that are so consistently similar that I'm forced to believe it's some sort of cultural norm.

Most parents will continue to love their children despite serious crimes and utterly degenerate behavior. Apparently all Mormons have to do is begin questioning the (nonsensical) stories they were told as children and suddenly they are at risk of being outcastes.

So: to tie this in to your original question, I don't think it's just women who attempt to manipulate others with guilt and shame. Steve's own daddy threatened to disown him, after all. It may be less gender-specific and more of a cultural tactic which has evolved (overtly or covertly) in response to pressure from the greater world.

Perhaps family is ultimately devalued in Mormondom due to the fact that so many children are common. (If one kid apostatizes, there are others to take his/her place and the family can just forget him/her). Perhaps also it's the pressure of the external religious "family" that makes destruction of the nuclear family so accessible.

I'd personally hope that if one of my children wins professional honors and cultivates a successful family life I'd be able to be proud of the accomplishments despite whatever lifestyle s/he chooses to embrace. The fact that Mormons go into fits because one of their grown children has a different hairstyle is just more evidence of what a nutty little subculture this truly is.



Subject: Mormon women, manipulative? Nooooooooo! Sense my sarcasm? ;-)
Date: Jun 17 14:55
Author: girl in the box
Mail Address:

I don't think I'll touch on my mother's rather extreme levels of manipulation, which often incorporated church teachings or falling back on male authority. I'll just say that mothers with an agenda can be some of the biggest bitches on the face of the planet!

Subject: That story is such a striking example
Date: Jun 17 15:30
Author: Saucie

of the ways Mormon women and actually lots of other women in the world try to manipulate and control their environment while disowning their true selves on the altar of obedience to a man who supposedly has more "power" then they do. They have abandoned themselves to fit in to someone else's idea of how life should be. Is it really no wonder that so many women are depressed, or overweight or are acting out in any of the ways women do who have disowned themselves?


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