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This video has made the rounds on facebook this week. I tend to avoid videos, especially ones made by the church, about motherhood. Mostly I avoid them because they are emotionally manipulative. They show only the perfect moments of life, making it look like the ideal is a perfectly clean home, perfect children, and a perfect mom. I have long since given up hope on attaining that perfect life, so I don’t like my emotions being manipulated to believe that that is true motherhood. Against my better judgment, I clicked on this video. Why did I click on it? Maybe it was out of curiosity. Maybe it was because I am desperately searching for a positive message right now for me as a stay at home mom. Maybe it was because I wanted to see a message based in reality, one that would empower me as a mom.
I was surprised to find that this video started off in a less than perfectly clean home, with a mom who was not out of bed when her kids were up. The video came closer than any I’ve seen lately, to the reality of my life as a SAHM. My emotions were pulled in to the story because this lady was me, or at least the me I am trying to overcome. But the life is mine. What I saw before my eyes was my own morning. Scrolling through facebook while she’s dreading the day ahead, hearing her two oldest fighting first thing in the morning, placing food in front of a child who doesn’t want to eat it… Finally! I thought, A real portrayal of what it is like to be a Mormon SAHM.
As the video continued, I mourned with this Mormon mother. I know her. I know that she has been programmed like a robot, to only say, “yes, yes, yes.” She is hard-wired to sacrifice, sacrifice, and sacrifice some more, for her children, her neighbors, her sister, anyone whose day might be made brighter by her selfless acts of service. She gives and gives, without replenishing the well from which others take. I recognize her sighs, the vacant lifeless features of her face as she gives her life and passion away, the disappointment that quickly fades as she resolves to be what everyone else needs her to be.
I have been in her place, babysitting other children at inconvenient times, thinking it would help someone else, hoping that the same help would also be available to me when I needed it. But living deep in the heart of Mormonism, I rarely find that help reciprocated. Yet I continue to give and give, because that is what makes me a good Mormon woman.
I have been the one saying, “Yes, I will take dinner to them tonight,” while I am thinking, I have no idea how I am even going to squeeze that into my evening. But good Mormon women don’t say no. They don’t think about themselves and their own needs first. They are selfless in their service to others.
The emotions of this woman are real. This wasn’t just a bad day for her. This is day in and day out, as the life is sucked from her. Did the woman in this video look happy? Did she look alive? No, she was a zombie. I have been that zombie, I have been that robot, that doormat. I spent my life listening to and idolizing men who have never experienced the pain of this woman, yet they praise women for never putting themselves first. These men can’t possibly know what it is like to be a SAHM, yet they are full of advice for those of us who do. Because we idolize them, we strive to live up to their unrealistic expectations as the woman in this video did and it leaves us wounded. It is this patriarchal system that has created this wound. It has left this woman, the Mormon everywoman, a shell of herself.
Did she really have to give up the one thing that she spent her day looking forward to, the only thing all day that she had a genuine smile for? Did she really have to give up the one thing she could have done for herself that day for someone else who might be in need? And now that she has, what does she have left for herself to help her get out of bed tomorrow?
As I cried and mourned with this woman, I braced for the take-away message. Surely, for what this woman was experiencing in her life, the message would be lovely and empowering. I needed that for myself, to heal from the deep wound that I am still recovering from. I waited for the message of feminine divinity, telling this woman that she was a goddess in training, not a servant to the needs of everyone except herself. Instead, I heard the ever familiar patriarchal voice come in to save the day for this woman. After twelve hours of endless drudgery, slavery, and servitude without any sight of an equal partner for help, patriarchy rides in like prince charming to save her day. And what does he put on her gaping wound? A bandaid:
[box] “Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient. We all worry about our performance, we all wish that we could do better, but unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do. You never know how much good you do.”[/box]
These words of President Hickley’s can be uplifting and inspiring to hear. But in the context of this video, they feel like more of the same patriarchal rhetoric that women should shrink themselves into nothingness for the good of others. That their needs are not as important as the needs of others. I understand how this message feels comforting to Mormon SAHMs, because when you are being a good patriarchal daughter and sacrificing your needs for everyone else, you desperately want to hear that those sacrifices are worth it. But if the message could shift, this wound wouldn’t exist in the first place, and we wouldn’t feel the need to accept these patriarchal band-aids.
I think this video was an attempt to shift the message about stay at home moms, but we can do better. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers of this video are or at least consulted stay at home moms, because they got it! They portrayed the life of a Mormon mother in a patriarchal culture and mindset accurately. But we need to step out of patriarchy to find a better message. We need to stop letting patriarchy ride in at the last minute and save us from the very wound it has created in us. The solution needs to come from within our own female souls, not from men who tell us that we have a natural nurturing ability, tell us to give up our dreams and passions to serve others, continue to pound that into our hearts and minds, and then try to comfort us when life feels unbearable by saying that many of us feel like failures. Of course we feel like failures! We’re so busy checking off our impossibly long check-lists and serving others that we forgot to take time to be ourselves and to be happy.
If I were to change the take-away message from this video, I would use a voice of female empowerment. I would say, “You are a precious soul and your needs are important. Self-serving is not all bad and selflessness is not all good. If you are not meeting your needs first and embracing the things that give you life and enjoyment, you will burn out. Sometimes ‘no’ is the most important word you can learn to say. Saying ‘yes’ to yourself is vital to the health of your beautiful feminine soul. You never know how much putting your needs, passions, and desires first can uplift your own soul and bring you happiness. Then, with a happy and vibrant spirit, you will serve others, not because it’s expected of you, but because you want to.” Then I would pan through the day again and show how putting her needs first would have left this woman happier and more fulfilled at the end of the day, with even more capacity to serve others. This message shift needs to happen because it’s time for us Mormon women to be happy.
On ne sait jamais
Cette vidéo a été posté partout sur facebook cette semaine. D’habitude j’évite les vidéos, surtout celles faites par l’Eglise, sur la maternité. Pour la plupart, je les évite car elles manipulent les émotions. Elles ne montrent que les moments parfaits de la vie où la maison est toujours parfaitement rangée, les enfants sont sages, et la mère belle et parfaite. J’ai abandonné cette idée depuis longtemps, donc je n’aime pas qu’on essaie de me faire croire que cet idéal est la « vraie » maternité. Malgré moi, je l’ai regardée.
J’étais surprise que la vidéo a commencé dans une maison qui n’était pas parfaitement range, avec une mère qui était encore au lit alors que ses enfants s’était déjà levés. Cette vidéo se rapproche le plus de la réalité de la vie d’une mère au foyer que n’importe quelle d’autre vidéo que j’ai vue récemment. Elle a fait appel à mes émotions car cette femme était moi, ou bien la femme que j’essaie de surmonter. Mais sa vie était la mienne . Ce que j’ai vu était ma propre matinée : regarder facebook en appréhendant la journée devant moi, entendre les grands se battre dès la sortie du lit, placer un repas devant un enfant qui ne veut le manger… Enfin! Je me suis dit, une représentation réaliste de ce que c’est d’être une mère au foyer mormone !
Pendant l’histoire, j’ai pleuré avec cette mère. Je la connais. Je sais qu’elle a été programmée comme un robot à ne dire que « oui, oui, oui. » Le sacrifice est profondément établi dans son esprit, et elle se sacrifie encore et encore : pour ses enfants, pour ses voisins, pour sa sœur, pour toute personne qui pourrait bénéficier d’une de ses actes de service désintéressées. Elle donne sans ravitailler les ressources dans lesquelles les autres puisent. Je reconnais ses soupirs, les traits vides et sans vie de son visage, et sa déception qui doit céder à sa résolution d’être ce dont les autres ont besoin.
J’ai déjà été à sa place. J’ai gardé des enfants aux moments inopportuns, en voulant aider quelqu’un d’autre et en espérant que cette même aide serait disponible à moi quand j’en aurais besoin. Mais, même habitant dans le cœur du mormonisme, je trouve que cette aide est rarement réciproque. Pourtant je continue à donner, car c’est cela ce qui fait de moi une bonne mormone.
J’ai été celle qui a dit, « Oui, je leur apporterai un diner ce soir, » tout en me disant, Je ne sais pas comment je vais avoir le temps. Mais les bonnes mormones ne disent pas non. Elles ne pensent pas à elles et à leurs propres besoins. Elle sont altruistes dans leur service aux autres.
Les émotions de cette femmes sont réelles. Ce n’était pas une mauvaise journée pour elle, c’était son quotidien. Est-ce qu’elle avait l’air heureuse ? Est-ce qu’elle avait l’air vivant ? Non, elle était un zombie. J’ai été ce zombie, ce robot. J’ai passé ma vie à écouter et à idolâtrer des hommes qui n’ont jamais expérimenté la douleur de cette femme, mais qui félicitent toutes les femmes pour ne jamais s’être occupées d’elles-mêmes avant tout. Ces hommes ne peuvent pas savoir ce que c’est d’être une mère au foyer, mais ils ont plein de conseils pour celles qui le sont. A cause de leur position élevée, nous essayons d’être à la hauteur de leurs attentes irréalistes comme a fait la femme dans la vidéo et cela nous blesse. C’est ce système patriarcal qui nous blesse. Il laisse derrière lui une femme qui n’est plus qu’un coquille vide.
Etait-elle vraiment obligée de sacrifier la seule chose qu’elle avait hâte de faire ce jour-là, la seule chose qui lui donner un sourire sincère? Etait-elle obligée de sacrifice la chose qu’elle aurait pu faire pour elle-même pour aider quelqu’un d’autre? Et maintenant qu’elle l’a fait, que lui reste pour la motiver à se lever demain ?
Pendant que je pleurais avec cette femmes, j’attendais le message spiritual. Vu les besoins de cette femmes, le message serait réconfortant et inspirant. J’en avais besoin moi-même pour guérir de ma propre blessure profonde. J’attendais un message de la divinité féminine qui dirait à la femme qu’elle était une apprentie déesse et non pas une esclave aux besoins des autres. La voix que j’ai entendue était la même voix patriarcale qui vient toujours sauver la mise pour la femme. Que lui donne-t-il pour sa blessure ? Un petit pansement :
« Beaucoup d’entre vous se considèrent comme des ratées. Vous pensez ne pas pouvoir réussir, que tous vos efforts ne suffiront pas. Nous nous inquiétons tous de savoir si nous réussissons. Nous voudrions tous mieux faire. On ne sait jamais tout le bien que l’on accomplit. »
Ces paroles du Président Hinckley peuvent être inspirantes. Mais dans le contexte de cette vidéo, elles semblent faire partie du même rhétorique patriarcal qui dit que les femmes doivent s’oublier complètement au service des autres. Que leurs besoins ne sont pas aussi importantes que celles des autres. Je comprends pourquoi ce message console certaines mères au foyer car quand tu es une bonne fille sage et que tu sacrifies toutes tes besoins pour les autres, tu veux désespérément entendre que ces sacrifices valent leur peine. Si seulement ce message changeait, il n’y aurait plus de blessure, et nous n’aurions plus besoin d’accepter ces pansement insuffisants.
Je pense que cette vidéo essayait de changer le message sur les mères au foyer, mais je pense aussi que nous pouvons faire mieux. Je ne serais pas surprise si les créateurs de cette vidéo sont ou ont consulté des mères au foyer, parce qu’ils ont tout compris ! Ils ont dépeint la vie d’une mère mormone dans une culture patriarcale correctement. Mais nous avons besoin de sortir de la patriarchie pour trouver un meilleur message. Nous avons besoin d’arrêter de laisser la patriarchie arriver à la dernière minute pour nous sauver de la même blessure qu’elle nous a infligée. La solution a besoin de venir de nous femmes, et non pas des hommes qui nous disent que nous avons la capacité unique d’élever les enfants, nous disent de sacrifier nos rêves et nos passions pour servir les autres, et puis essayer de nous consoler quand la vie semble insoutenable en disant que beaucoup d’entre nous pensent être des ratées. Mais bien sûr! Nous sommes tellement occupées à accomplir nos longues listes impossibles que nous oublions de prendre du temps pour nous et d’être heureuses.
Si je pouvais changer le message de cette vidéo, je mettrais une voix féminine. Je dirais , « Tu es une âme précieuse et tes besoins sont importantes. T’occuper de toi n’est pas toujours mauvais et l’altruisme n’est pas toujours bon. Si tu ne réponds pas à tes propres besoins d’abord et n’embrasse pas les choses qui te donnent vie, tu vas t’épuiser. Parfais ‘non’ est le mot le plus important que tu peux apprendre à dire. Dire ‘oui’ à toi-même est essentiel à la santé de ton âme féminine. Tu ne sais jamais combien mettre tes besoins, tes désirs en premier peut t’élever et te rendre heureuse. Puis, d’un esprit léger et vivant, tu serviras les autres, non pas parce que c’est ce qu’on attend de toi, mais parce que tu as envie de le faire. » Ensuite je montrerais comment cela l’aurait rendue plus heureuse à la fin de la journée avec une plus grande capacité de servir les autres. Ce changement de message a besoin de se faire car il est temps pour les mormones d’être heureuses.
Well said! The one thing I couldn’t get out of my head watching this video was: “Where is her husband? Where is the daddy??” Obviously somebody’s out funding that whole SAHM operation, so why is he nowhere to be found from the time the kids get up until they go to bed? What kind of message does that send to already-overextended Mormon mothers? “Yes, we know you’re single/widowed/military wife or your husband travels a lot. Heck, maybe he’s just downstairs playing video games or out deer hunting. But everyone else’s needs are still more important than your own mental/emotional health. The satisfaction of denying yourself for everyone else’s gain should be enough to get you through it all.”
This exact message has driven me and countless other women to nervous/emotional breakdown over and over and over for decades. This new feminine mystique just does. not. work. For anyone. Ever.
Yes! I wondered the same thing! There are definitely reasons why a husband might not be around, but the fact that he wasn’t there for this tired, overworked mother is a little too symbolic of the imbalance our culture creates with its role obsession. Great comment!
Great points, Jenny. I wanted the video to end with her having a nice time with her friend at the end of a long and hard day! Danggit, she deserved it! Or at least go out on her own since she already had the baby sitter there.
I also noticed the not-so-subtle projection of the working woman as materialistic and self-absorbed. That was disappointing.
If I put myself into the marketing meeting, I can see the positive intent in creating this video: “Let’s make something uplifting for all the moms out there who feel discouraged.” And that leads to me remember the quote about “treat a [woman] how she is, and she will remain as she is. Treat a [woman] as she could be, and she will become what she should be.” Going along with your last paragraph about improving the message of the video overall, it seems like the end result of the video was, “it’s okay to be a maxed out zombie because you were doing GOOD for other people! and that makes it all okay/worth it!”
The bigger question is who/how to change the message.
Thanks! Yes, I noticed that too. The working woman was self-absorbed and only cared for her needs while the SAHM also cared for the needs of the self-absorbed sister. We need to work to change this narrative that a SAHM is an utterly selfless giving person, while a working woman (especially a working mom who has to leave her children at daycare) is selfish.
I was so confused about why she didn’t just deliver the casserole uncooked. What difference could it possibly make? Whether it is cooked in your house or theirs, it will be ready half an hour later. You’ve done the hard part, having a new dad turn the oven on and put it in is not going to be tricky, and it is easier to transport. Bonus: the family can have it when they’re ready to eat. Similarly I was wondering about the last minute science project. Am I the terrible person that would just let my son live with the consequences of procrastination? And the fact that he WON after 5 minutes of effort, mostly done by his mom, rankles a bit too. What about the families that put in a lot of time? I think I overthink things.
I was also sad about the message. I definitely understand the inability to say no, even when saying yes becomes damaging. But we shouldn’t be applauding that, when she was obviously miserable and overdrawn. We should be encouraging and teaching about boundaries, so we both ask for and receive help in ways that build a good community and family.
Yes, there were a lot of incongruities in this film. I don’t think I would even have five minutes to put together a science project in a morning. Taking an uncooked casserole is a good idea. My first thought was to buy a pizza. The unrealistic nature of the sacrifices she made almost suggests that our culture expects sacrifice out of us just for the sake of sacrifice. Sometimes I feel that we sacrifice our own happiness because we think unhappiness is an outward symbol of service to God and fellow humans. It’s a strange phenomenon when one of our principal doctrines involves a Plan of Happiness.
I wasn’t wild about the video, but I think that you might be missing the mark a bit. You could argue that the working sister was self-absorbed, but by that same argument the mother with bad medical news, the young couple with the new baby, and the son were also self-absorbed. They all had significant events happening that would warrant a bit of self-absorption. Is the patriarchal culture supposedly making judgment calls about those people, too? The purpose of the video was to send a message to women that feel like failures/overwhelmed that they are actually more successful than they think and are making a bigger difference in the lives of their family members and their community than they realize. Most of the women I know who loved this video were ones whose husbands work 80+ hours per week and found this incredibly realistic.
Thank you for your comment. The main problem I had with the dialogue between the working woman and the SAHM is that our patriarchal culture does tend to create a chasm between women based on their life choices. I grew up in the church believing that women literally could not be good mothers if they worked outside the home, and that they were selfish. I think the conversation between these two women only serves to perpetuate that chasm between working women and SAHMs. It wouldn’t have been as bad if the working woman had let her sister talk and listened to her feelings as well. I think it is different than the self-absorption of the other people in need because we already have this existing problem in our culture between working women and SAHMS. I understand that the message of this video was meant to be one of comfort and I can see how women would take comfort in it. I might have taken comfort in it too if it weren’t for the fact that I am trying to overcome my need to sacrifice myself for others. I know that this is a reality for many women. Like I said, it has been my own reality. But it is the culture, reinforced by videos like this, that makes it a reality for many women. I want to see that reality change, and I don’t see this video being helpful to that effect.
The biggest problem for me was it implied that her service was more valuable because she sacrificed.
If, at the end she had the night out she had planned, would it really have changed the fact that she served her fellow man. NO!
Also, there is nothing wrong with saying “oh sorry, but I have plans tonight, but I can take a meal tomorrow night.”
The take away for me was….. we know you STAHMs are so busy, but put more on your plate because that’s what you should do.
Honestly this video makes me really sad. I want so badly for this mom to speak up and express her needs/feelings. It’s ok to say, “I’m really sorry I can’t watch your daughter today. I just have a lot on my plate right now.” Or as others have mentioned taking pizza to the family with the baby and say “sorry I couldn’t manage a home cooked meal. But I really want to help you guys out.” Or to tell your kids “mom had a hard day and I’m really tired. Please help me clean up.” I’m afraid the narrative is that moms are supposed to do it all and do it with a silent smile because speaking up would be “complaining”. I don’t think women are doing themselves or their families any good when they are suffering in silence like this.
Amen Beatrice, I’m an LDS SAHD, my wife works 40 hours a week and frequently takes business trips. I was able to relate to many parts of this video. The greatest message that I got was that it is so very sad that women are held to different standards and conditions. I am thankful that as a man I am not asked by the LDS culture what is asked of women every day. The portrayal of the business woman also offended me, my wife is in management and is a strong woman. Yet I feel that the sacrifice she is making is greater than mine. Hopefully LDS culture will evolve and not place sexist cultural norms on women.
Travis, it’s great to hear your perspective on it as a SAHD.
Beatrice, thanks for this version. Yeah your version I am repatterning in my head so this video-didee-o doesn’t trigger my PTSD. 😉 for a more realistic and happy ending. Go mama lady. Go out on Get Yo’ Pleasure On! You Are AWESOME! I now feel great and glorify self care at least as much as helping out when it feels kind and expands my own world and sense of satisfaction as a result of rendering such aid…WITHOUT the help of a religion telling me what or how to be or do it.
I agree. I have been bothered by this video all day, after viewing it this morning.
In addition to the problems you expressed, I was disturbed by the following:
1. I was very bothered by the smug look of victory on the daughter’s face as the mom gave into her demand for cereal at breakfast. Isn’t it healthy and appropriate to teach children better?
2. I was upset that the mom did not teach her son the very important life lesson about responsibility, and sometimes failing at an assignment will be a life lesson learned.
3. I was upset that lunch with her sister was a burden, rather than a joy. The mom had to provide the lunch? The sister couldn’t even listen to the mom’s problems, too?
(I feel that Bishops and Stake presidents, and other high-profile male positions, have the same problems of putting everyone else first, and therefore they an often sacrifice establishing strong relationships with healthy foundations with their wives and children, because they are simply gone in service to others so much. )
Unfortunately, I fear that most mainstream members (especially us females) won’t read this healthier perspective, and will continue to exemplify the Mormon virtue of being a doormat for the greater good, like this video teaches. But hopefully one person at a time will realize the damage this perspective does, and we as a people will be better for it . . . Slowly but surely.
[…] I was surprised to find that this video started off in a less than perfectly clean home, with a mom who was not out of bed when her kids were up. The video came closer than any I’ve seen lately, to the …read more […]
I agree with the comments above, especially Jill’s astute observation that the service was more valuable because it involved sacrifice.
I have issues with providing meals for new babies, especially at the last minute. The baby did not look like a preemie, so I don’t understand why anyone would call her at the last minute for a meal, and presume that it is okay. I agree with others that in a pinch, I would’ve grabbed a frozen pizza from my fridge– it is annoying to me how it is presumed that she would make a casserole, and it seemed to me that the new father looked pretty bright and cheery, not to mention very well able to do a meal for himself.
And- what frankly bothered me the most (besides the glaring fact that few people can afford that kind of house and car, and still be SAHMs), was that the SON ‘s prayer brought her “back into line.” To me, this implies that the priesthood – or at least the maleness in the family- is the only party that recognized her gifts of service– this in itself suggests that we, as females, cannot see the benefits of our service– but males– even very young males– can, and must direct us in seeing the service side of female life. (Um, patriarchy, anyone?) This really bothered me, because it positioned the young son as more in-tune spiritually than his mother, furthering the position of the older daughter as a selfish brat who only eats what she demands, and the younger daughter as the cute eye candy. Seriously, what can’t a daughter, or even the friend who she missed seeing– expressed their recognition of her sacrifice rather than the only male represented in the family?
I liked the domino-effect that was shown in her service, and how it effected others, but still… the day clearly left her empty, and the video depressed me.
Do you mean that it seemed like the woman who was the subject of the film was expendable so long as someone else got their need met?
I didn’t get that impression from the sons prayer at all. I saw a kid who basically repeated parts of the prayer his mom had given that morning (since she also prayed about getting things done) but his unintentional changing of the way he phrased it changed her attitude.
I definitely agree the video has flaws but I didn’t see this particular one. Although the older daughter was annoying with the breakfast thing
The truth in life, the lie in the video, is that most often people don’t actually need you, they are just taking advantage of you for not being able to yes to yourself, and no to them.
I agree with you. Sometimes people really are in need, but I have found my service taken advantage of more than I have found it really needed. It seems like the people who really need and appreciate it also reciprocate, and the service balances out. That is the best kind of service, among friends who support each other.
I have to agree with Wonderwoman1975 and Spunky. For the first 30 years of my married life with 4 children. I was that woman – always saying YES, YES, and for sure YES!! It took me just one therapy session to realize that I can say no and not feel guilty. So the past 36 years have been so much better because I now take care of myself first and only do what I can manage, and that’s okay.
I look forward to being able to say that I have taken care of myself for 36 years. I have only just begun to learn to say no. Thank you for your comment.
I wasn’t as critical of the video as you all seem to be. Maybe I had kind of low expectations and it exceeded them. I did take it as an especially bad day rather than a typical one. I was sorry that she didn’t get to have her visit. But the thing that I noticed most was that the child she was babysitting was treated like a “thing” that would sit in the corner of her living room until her mom returned. Not that I am blaming the over-burdened mom, but it would have been nice to see the child’s face and have the other children include her in their activities (even briefly).
Very insightful post and comments. However, I do think that the interpretation of this video (like many other materials) depends on where we are sensitive as individuals.
I can see why many of us feminists might not like the message. It is the kind of message we hear often. However, I do not see it as patriarchy vs. feminine power. I have realized that many expectations of us as members of the church are a little too high. We expect the church to give us guidance (wise one) on every single aspect of our lives. However, historically religion has never done that. It always was behind science and social developments. It is the last institutions that updates itself and adjusts its policies to the members in a society. Therefore, for me, even though I am a career woman and never send dinners to others, I took from it that service is important. That is all. It is up to us to draw the line of where saying “yes to others” becomes suffocating. I do not expect any other person or institution to draw that line for me.
Of course I would have loved the video to have the message of what the author of this blog posts says. But I personally feel that that is keeping my expectations too high.
I am very happy though that the church has moved away from portraying a perfect Victorian life to a more realistic, monotonous and hard life. I can see why SASH moms liked this video a lot (and I would have liked it too if I was staying home with my children). Finally, the church has not told them what their children and homes should look like but instead is telling them that all women in their shoes have the same frustrations and limitations. That is a great development in itself.
There really is no please everyone all of the time.
I watched this video and wondered how they’d gotten the camera into my house. I appreciated the message. I don’t feel it is encouraging women to be zombie martyrs; it is reminding us that even when we feel like failures, there are still “drops of awesome” we can appreciate about ourselves. (http://www.daringyoungmom.com/2012/12/19/drops-of-awesome/)
I’ve also been the woman who had to leave her daughter with a neighbor unexpectedly to drive across the city and get devastating news from the doctor. Before you get too wrapped up in the main character’s bad day, spend a few moments thinking about her day. I’d trade the main character’s day for the day I had to have a D&C for a failed pregnancy any time. Someone always has it worse somewhere. Count your blessings and keep going.
And, honestly, if you can’t hear a man, who is also the Prophet of God, speak from his heart words of reassurance that the good you do is valued, without dismissing it as “Patriarchy” then frankly, the problem is more on your end than the video’s. To do otherwise is gender discrimination. You can’t insist on womens’ right to be heard in all matters and then turn around and dismiss President Hinckley’s words just because he’s a man.
I’m not dismissing the value of President Hinckley’s words. I mentioned in my post that they are uplifting and inspiring, just wrong for the context of this video. The problem with idolizing the men in leadership and taking every word they say to be directly and transparently from God is that I don’t believe God can transform them to magically have a female experience. That doesn’t mean that their experience and their wisdom and insight isn’t valuable, it’s just incomplete. That’s why we need female voices of authority. We need the input of women who have been in the tranches of their homes as stay at home moms to share their wisdom and experience with us. I think if that were the case, the message could transform from one of being a martyr mommy to a more empowering and realistic message for moms.
The reassuring words at the end, framed to be telling the woman that she did good by sacrificing herself over and over and never thinking of herself, would have been equally bad if spoken by Julie Beck or Sheri Dew. They also would have been equally the voice of patriarchy.
Ziff, you are exactly right. It’s not a difference of male or female voice. It’s the difference of women speaking from their own experience and defining things from a female lens. Most women in our culture speak from a patriarchal narrative. That is the language we have learned from birth, so that is the language speak. I want to hear from the pure female experience that isn’t clouded by male interpretations of what female experience is. That’s what I tried to do with my altered message at the end. I shared the wisdom I have gained through my experience as a SAHM that isn’t clouded by my patriarchal interpretation of my experience. The patriarchal daughter in me wants to say no! Sacrificing for others is good and praiseworthy! But we as women need to overcome that and trust in own feelings, experienced, wisdom, and interpretations. Until we do that, any voice we hear in church, male or female, will be a voice of patriarchy.
I like your insight on this. Sometimes, life is more tragic somewhere else for sure. This is definitely important for us to all keep in mind.
“Then, with a happy and vibrant spirit, you will serve others, not because it’s expected of you, but because you want to.”
Great response, Jenny. I particularly appreciate your rewrite of the take-home message at the end.
Thank you, thank you for writing about this, Jenny. Well thought and well said.
I’ve seen the following quote posted in other spaces online since that video came out. Thought I’d share it again here, in case it’s useful to someone else reading your great post, Jenny.
Chieko Okazaki to the rescue, once again and always…
“Many Mormon women do not have clear boundaries for themselves. They feel a sense of confusion about who they are, because many competing voices lay claim to them and they try to accommodate them all. For example, when I became a member of the Relief Society general presidency, I was appalled at how many women were tormented by guilt about their responsibilities as mothers. They seemed unable to see a boundary between themselves and their children. If a child deviated from what was expected, it became a burden that the mother bore. . . .
It is a strength for women to be able to cross their own boundaries easily when they are meeting the needs of their children and serving others, but it is a great disadvantage when they feel every call for service as an imperative which they are obligated to meet. Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.”
Thank God for Chieko. Thank Kathy for sharing Chieko’s quote. 🙂
That is a great quote! Another great post on this topic from my friend Kalani at the Mormon Feminist Housewives blog also quotes Chieko Okasaki. Here’s the link: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2014/09/you-never-know-a-response-from-a-mother/
Wow! Great quote. I really, really miss Sister Okazaki. No one even remotely takes her place.
Well said. I’ve never been a SAHM, but if this is what it’s like, I don’t see how we don’t have more infanticide. I’m absolutely serious. I could not handle many days like the one in this video.
48 hours after the birth of my second son, my sister asked me if I would watch her pre-teen kids while she went to the temple. I really didn’t feel up to it. I was tired. I said no, that I really couldn’t do it. She kept insisting her kids would be a help to me, and something about blessings of the temple or something. She said she would only be 3 hours, no more.
When she dropped her kids off, they hadn’t eaten any lunch. I had to feed them, then entertain them all afternoon instead of taking care of my own needs. By dinner time, my sister was still nowhere to be found, so I had to cook a meal for everyone, and then I went up to my room, shut the door, and bawled while laying on the floor. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, practically suicidal. I finally called my husband and said I couldn’t take any more, and he needed to come home. By then he was already on his way, and he was fairly unhappy that I was taken advantage of in this way.
Just thinking about that day still makes me feel horrible. This video reminded me of that.
This made me very sad because your sister took advantage of you in a very dishonest way. I don’t think there are temple blessings available during the days when people behave like that. I hope you and your husband had a good talk with your sister after this episode.
To me, this is another evidence that there is nothing wrong with service (like all of us here believe) but instead with the people that purely take advantage of this concept.
Jenny, your rewrite at the end was fantastic.
It does perpetuate the idea that women need to be all things to all people, and to complain is to not be all that you should be, that men can have limits and that is fine.
[…] Never Know” circulated Facebook recently, as did some well-thought out critiques and analysis. Make sure you read what Catherine from Segullah had to say about […]
[…] in “You Never Know” circulated Facebook recently, as did some well-thought out critiques and analysis. Make sure you read what Catherine from Segullah had to say about […]