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Posted by: angsty ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:11PM

Friends, I'm fired up and about to go off.

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I don't have time or the inclination to point out everything that is wrong with this thread. There are a few reasonable comments. However, the general direction of the thread, and much of the commentary, exemplifies a bad intellectual habit I often see in Mormon thinking. It's one of the issues that bothered me as a member, and I think it’s part of the reason the debate over whether Mormons are "Christian" or not continues to get Mormons riled up.

Frequently in intellectual discourse, Mormons redefine standard terms in order to better suit their purposes. This is usually done without any acknowledgment that terms are being used in a nonstandard way, and sometimes results in the informal fallacy of equivocation (whether intentional or not). I don't think Mormons do this on purpose-- I really think it is a product of gross ignorance and conceptual confusion.

This gross ignorance is especially evident when Mormons talk about feminist hot-button issues-- like "patriarchy" and "equality of the sexes". In the case of the above referenced discussion thread, a few LDS thinkers are suggesting that the "patriarchy" of the church can be understood in a way that is somehow compatible with "equality of the sexes".

Here's the thing: When feminists, intellectuals and folks who know what they're talking about (or at least consult a dictionary) talk about "patriarchy", it's very clear that "equality of the sexes" is precluded in virtue of the subordination of women which is fundamental to the concept of patriarchy in the first place.

As one poster was kind enough to point out, here's your standard dictionary definition:

>Definition of PATRIARCHY
>1: social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power
>2: a society or institution organized according to the principles or practices of patriarchy

Patriarchy is fundamentally about differential POWER RELATIONSHIPS.

Patriarchy isn't patriarchy without the subordination of women. If the man is presiding in virtue of his priesthood, it doesn't matter how well a marriage works or whether the woman feels "equally" loved or valued. There's an unequal power relationship, and that is what is at issue when people are talking about “patriarchy” in related intellectual discourse.

Despite the tendency of Mormons to couch talk of priesthood authority in less-offensive terms like “stewardship” and “responsibility”, I think an honest look at the nature of the patriarchal order in the church makes it quite clear that differential power relationships are endorsed by the church. I don’t think a Mormon can seriously suggest that Mormonism doesn’t adhere to the “dictionary” definition of patriarchy. Anyone disputing this should verse themselves with what the church is telling the Aaronic priesthood these days:

Mormons also seem to like a nonstandard working definition of "equality of the sexes". For example, the initial poster posited: "By "equality" I mean something like 'treating both sexes as being of equal value and with equal respect.'"

Guess what?
1.)That's not what is generally understood when educated people are talking about "equality of the sexes"-- and particularly NOT in the context of a discussion of PATRIARCHY. When people are talking about “gender equality” related to patriarchy they are typically referring to power relationships (social, political and economic) and their consequences.

2.)Mormon opposition to the ERA, which attempted to codify “equality of the sexes” establishes that Mormons have historically opposed these standard views on what gender equality means. While many Mormons might support various versions of ERA tenets today, the patriarchal order of the church, the Proclamation on the Family and various other teachings of the church do not reflect these values.

Admittedly, there have been varieties of “difference feminism”, which suggest that women are fundamentally different, though equal (or even superior) in value in virtue of sex differences, but these feminisms:

a.Have been based, historically, on what is now acknowledged to be bad science (and religious dogma).
b.Acknowledge the nonstandard use of the term
c.In no way represent the general view of what “equality of the sexes” entails.

I suppose the conceptual confusion over what “equality” means is encouraged by claims such as this: “In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel … was devised by the Lord for men and women alike. … The privileges and requirements of the gospel are fundamentally alike for men and women. The Lord loves His daughters as well as He loves His sons” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960], p. 305). This would be nice if it were true. But it's clearly not. Dogmatically asserting that the church embraces “full equality” while ignoring the essential inequality inherent in LDS patriarchy is at best confused and at worst, malicious and dishonest.

By the received view of “Patriarchy” and “Equality of the Sexes”:

•"Patriarchy", at its root, is a structure of authority and power in which women and men are not equal (women are subordinate, men have authority).

•"Equality of the Sexes", is fundamentally about structures of power and authority in which women and men ARE equal (socially, politically, and economically).

It should be very clear that patriarchy and gender equality so-construed (in standard terms) are incompatible-- in fact diametrically opposed.

The only way "equality of the sexes" can be compatible with LDS patriarchy is if:

•We take a deflated view of patriarchy in which the man’s role as priesthood-holder and presiding authority in the home is titular, and doesn’t really represent a difference in power and authority. I think this is obviously false. Is the priesthood and associated authority real or not, and do women hold it or not? Honesty requires a believing Mormon to reject this deflated view.

•If we completely ignore the fact that women serving in positions in the church are always answerable to male priesthood authority. Good luck with this one Mormons.


•If we're not talking about what people REALLY MEAN when they refer to the "equality of the sexes" in the context of a discussion about patriarchy.

When Mormons suggest that their sense of patriarchy is compatible with “full equality of the sexes” they are ignorant of the concepts involved, dishonest about the church’s authority structure, or making use of nonstandard definitions which don’t honestly answer related criticisms.

And there’s my 3¢ for the day, for what it’s worth.

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Posted by: Rebecca ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:16PM

It reminded me of the many reasons I left Mormonism.

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Posted by: anagrammy ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:26PM

Thanks, angsty. Your post should be archived so that it is always available under Mormon Patriarchy for newcomers or TBMs seeking truth about the inequality of sexes in Mormonism.

What always struck me as weird, by the way, was the polyandry that was practiced whenever Joseph Smith wanted someone's wife. In a way, you begin to see that there is no principle involved, whether it's with a small or big P. The form of patriarchy that he practiced was basically "Anything and anyone I want or the angel strikes you dead."

Inspiring, isn't it?

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Posted by: Rebecca ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:30PM

"IMO advanced civilization as we have it today is also not sustainable. Rather people are designed to live in tribes.
So an advanced civilization, even with equal rights for all is not the best kind of society in the first place."

Hick Preacher
Evangelical Christian

No surprises there. gag

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Posted by: angsty ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:44PM

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Posted by: angsty ( )
Date: October 30, 2010 11:24AM

<I apologize for my mean-spiritedness lately. I'm un-medicated and full of feminist rage.>

So, apparently this is one explanation favored by Mormon women who are trying desperately not to be slighted by the fact that men preside over them:


To Paraphrase:

There is a difference between man-made “patriarchy” and God-ordained “Patriarchal Order”.

Different things entirely.

Man-made “patriarchy” involves all the objectionable things feminists gripe about. In God-ordained “Patriarchal Order”, women are equally loved before the Lord and walk beside their husbands, not behind them.

The church doesn’t follow man-made “patriarchy”; it follows God-ordained “Patriarchal Order” which by necessity treats men and women equally before the Lord.

That’s God’s way. He’s all about equality of the sexes. That’s why when critics accuse the church of being a “patriarchal”, and thus sexist institution, they are wrong. The church isn’t “patriarchal” it just follows the “Patriarchal Order”.

Dear Sisters,

Put down your Sherbet/Soda punch concoction and stop promoting your home-based photography, Home Interiors, Pampered Chef, and Salt City Candle businesses (seriously, for five minutes please stop asking me to buy stuff from you on facebook and by email—I’ve already stopped following your blogs). I know you’ve got a ton going on with all this super busy-ness, but we seriously need to talk.

We need to have a chat about your logic. Oops!—logic is “man-made” and makes you look incoherent. Let’s use the “Lord’s Logic”, that way we can talk about the same things by different rules and escape criticisms that don’t favor you.

So if I’ve got you right, by the “Lord’s Logic”, “Patriarchal Order” is distinct from “patriarchy”. It doesn’t mean “an oppressive institution in which men have an unequal distribution of power and women are subordinate”. It simply means, “An enlightened institution, commanded by God, where men have the priesthood power and accompanying authority, and women DO NOT, but women are STILL NOT subordinate, even though the men are the presiding authorities in the home and at church. Women have different, but have equally-important roles in virtue of Eve having eaten an apple—they get all blessed through the pain of childbirth (or something like that).

See? Different—men have priesthood authority and women have babies, but still totally equal!! Men and women are EQUAL in blessings and value, but totally different in duties, expectations, and authority, but totally equal anyway.

Okay, that totally works in the “Lord’s Logic” because in that system, P can equal not-P, since the law of non-contradiction doesn’t apply. No problem, right? Because, whenever we talk about Mormonism, it makes sense to use the “Lord’s Logic”—we want to understand the Lord’s work in his own terms, not man-made terms. Right? Totally.

Umm. Here’s the problem: When feminists and other enlightened bitches are screaming “PATRIARCHY!!” at the church, all they mean is that in a world where the law of non-contradiction applies (not in the “Lord’s Logic”), the church is “patriarchal” by the standard definition. No, seriously it is:

•Men have the priesthood authority and preside at home and in the church: check

•Women do not (even though they get to do lots of other things): check

•This by necessity, implies inequality (in power relations, and that is what we’re talking about): check

It doesn’t matter whether inside the “Lord’s Logic”, the God-ordained “Patriarchal Order” is compatible with equality of the sexes. When critics make this charge, they’re not using the “Lord’s Logic” so it is incoherent to throw that at them. You have two choices:

1.)Admit that the church is patriarchal, and explain to critics why this isn’t such a bad thing (of course you’re not going to be able to claim to be all feministy with this kind of line).

2.)Explain to me how the church isn’t patriarchal by the STANDARD definition, and while adhering to the law of non-contradiction.

Thank you for your time. I assume you’ve been multitasking and that’s why I just got three emails from you about candle promotions.

Thanks Girlies,


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