Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

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hawkgrrrl
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Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by hawkgrrrl » 28 Mar 2019, 12:03

I've been mulling something over a lot in the last few days since I did a tour of the red light district in Amsterdam (I did a post about it W&T for those who are interested). I had done a tour in Singapore's red light Geylang district several years ago. These are two countries that couldn't be more different in their politics. Amsterdam is very liberal and progressive. Singapore is both conservative but also in its own way progressive. Both countries are very business-like in wanting to do what makes economic sense (OK, basically they both want tax revenues). But the differences in how they handle legal prostitution are deeply philosophical and substantial.

Singapore wants to maximize the safety of the workers, to protect them, to prevent violence and exposure to disease for them and their clients. Amsterdam wants to maximize respect, autonomy, and the control the workers have over their circumstances and their "small business" in which they are the product & the service. If a prostitute doesn't want to accept a client, she doesn't have to. If she doesn't want to be tested for disease, that's her choice. In Amsterdam, pimping is illegal, but prostitution is legal. In Singapore, the sex workers operate out of "houses," or in other words, they are all employees, not freelancers. They have to do what their bosses say, but they also have to be tested, and their are laws around how they are treated. Tellingly, in both countries, most of the sex workers are foreign born.

I can see the value in Singapore's controlling approach, not wanting anyone to be exposed to disease or treated poorly, but there is something really special in the idea that Amsterdam puts forward, that these women whose choices are pretty limited are nevertheless in total control of their choices.

One of the things I find most frustrating in the church is its protectionist nature, that it tries to exert so much control into the private lives of its members through things like ecclesiastical endorsements with detailed checklists, and through the culture of checking on each other. I get why some find this appealing, but it also involves a lack of respect for individual choice and control.

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mom3
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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by mom3 » 28 Mar 2019, 15:38

I have been thinking similar things. I hadn't added the Red District comparisons. Though I have been to the Amsterdam one. I love that there is a church right next door. I did not miss the symbolism that could be drawn from that.

My thoughts rolled back to growing up in the church outside of Utah. The long reach of Utah Mormonism didn't cover us. We seemed to be a little less into each others business. We didn't all live on top of each other. The only time you saw people was on Sunday. Your own ward and stake were as big as your circle got. GA's didn't do "World Wide Firesides". General Conference wasn't heard or seen until I was 14. Church was fun then, too.

Now that they can reach out and touch us, we can't and don't live without it. And we do now judge each other. We do feel that it is our place to "care".
I know everyone is excited about all the changes, but I feel like it's a veiled effort at control.They couldn't just reduce church to 2 hours, they had to create a program and a way to check that program. To keep us all in line. We didn't really leave Mormonism. We just shifted how it's delivered. We didn't become kinder and gentler, we now have judgement about what name we call our church, our white shirts, our family study hour and more.

I know I am rambling, but you hit a nerve that has been twitching. Thanks for your well written words.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

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Ilovechrist77
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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 28 Mar 2019, 16:59

This is an interesting topic. Sexuality in general throughout history, I've noticed, even with ancient Christians and prophets, has been extremely messy. And since prostitution is a sexual business, it, of course, is extremely messy. Just like the adult industry, even though I watch porn in moderation or occasionally. And, many of you already know how much my spirituality has changed, which makes that possible for me now to not have the addiction anymore or have the shame and guilt that I used to have. Some here on this don't agree with that and that's okay. I realize in any sex business there's always some risk of sex diseases, shady people, exploitation, alcohol or drug addiction, which I agree. And, of course, in the church there are some of the same issues. At the same time, there are a lot of good people in prostitution and in porn and for many people it can help them lead healthy sex lives, which can help deepen their relationship with the divine.

It's interesting how the governments of Amsterdam and Singapore handle prostitution. Amsterdam is more permissive to not infringe upon the rights of the sex workers, while Singapore is more controlling to protect the workers. I like the comparison between the control between Singapore's control and the church's control. Growing up in the church without much of a spiritual life, the control never bothered me. I didn't pay much attention. Once I was spiritually reborn, the control was exactly what I needed because of my Autism. On my mission it was extremely helpful, although some of the mission and control of the mission was too much due to my OCD. Although the church does teach your relationship between you and God is ultimately between you and God, they don't emphasize it often enough. Because of the relationship I have with the Lord, too often there is too much control the church has over member's lives, which is detrimental to many people's mental health and relationships to God.

What there should be more control in the church is more protection of members from sexually abusive priesthood leaders.

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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by dande48 » 28 Mar 2019, 20:25

Both those regions have an interesting approach to a bad situation. Making prostitution illegal doesn't work, since there will always be a demand, as well as those without decent alternatives. The prostitution/porn industry is good money with low entry requirements, that allow decent time off-shift. There aren't a lot of jobs left fitting that description.

To carry the analogy a step further, the Church is more like one of those countries (USA) who outlaw prostitution. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. It's a nasty industry, that exploits, and brings out the worst in people. Same thing with outlawing "drugs". And same thing for a lot of things on the BYU honor code. But in practice, it's something that'll happen whether or not it's legal, and making it illegal makes the situation a whole lot worse. It prevents the reporting of far more serious crimes. It prevents those who want to escape from seeking help and counselling. It exasturbates the negative side effects.

The Church (as well as the US government), tell people "Don't do that. It's bad. And if you do that, we're going to make it so much worse!" What I wish they would say is "Don't do that. It'll hurt you. But if you do, we're still here for you. We'll do what we can to make things easier on you, and help you get better." Do you know who has an awful drug problem? America. Do you know who has 70%+ of their opiod users in rehab, and extensively low HIV and mortality rates for drug users (not to mention minimal drug related crime), despite the fact it's all legal? Switzerland.
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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by SamBee » 29 Mar 2019, 05:35

On my first visit to the Netherlands as a child, I had a nasty shock. There was a video box in a shop window of what let's call it an "animal documentary". That would be illegal in many countries and it is a truly vile practise. I don't know how anyone could justify that.

The Netherlands are a strange place. Disabled people on welfare get vouchers to use in brothels. Unthinkable in the English speaking world.

In some places there are still pockets of very strict Protestants, outside the big cities. I made a misplaced joke to two young Dutch tourists that I only knew the Dutch for God d- (a very common phrase over there). Both of the women took it very badly. I apologized and was told "I will forgive you, but I don't know if God will." Ouch! What a contrast to the revolting video and vouchers!

Prostitution is an interesting case. No country has ever succeeded in getting rid of it fully. Puritans want to. Most feminists do. It isn't legal here, but the police in my city have traditionally allowed certain brothels to operate because it keeps women (and men) off the street, which is a good thing. But then there was a clampdown on these houses, and the on street red light district by the police and it went underground again, making it more unsafe. Sometimes good will gestures have ill effects. Want to help the sex workers? Give them other jobs, stop people trafficking, help them off drugs and with mental health issues... That will do more good than banning anything, because then they won't feel they need to do that work.
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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by SilentDawning » 29 Mar 2019, 09:40

Interesting how the Amsterdam sex workers are free to NOT get tested, even though such testing could preserve their lives and the lives of others. While I believe in freedom, it's not the kind of freedom that attracts me. The idea that pimping is illegal is definitely the kind of control I'd want.

I'm finding it hard to draw the analogy between freedom and control in the sex trade, and the Church however.

Speaking of the church only, I do believe the church WANTS to control us -- for our own benefit sometimes, but definitely for the church's benefit and progress too. And at times, they have overreached. At one time, asking people if they engaged in oral sex with their marriage partner, sometimes defining exactly what a full tithe is -- right down to gross or net, and how it works if self-employed or an employee. In the early days, telling people who to marry, for example. Not allowing missionaries contact with their families except on major holidays, even putting out the cultural value that you stay in the field even if a family member dies.

I think they have the right idea on the Sabbath Day. There is room for a lot of variance in how that is interpreted.

I feel that requiring people to wear garments is more controlling than I like, and the fact that it's underwear is just weird to other people. Perhaps having an upper garmet that is worn in the temple, or at will when not in the temple would preserve most of the symbolism while allowing freedom of worship in that private part (literally) of our lives.

It's a tough balance. You must have SOME standards to make yourself unique and live your values. But too much control, and it squelches ownership, individuality, and self-expression -- all things that bring joy to people.

I also think that control and respect can co-exist. Simply because there is control doesn't mean there is disrespect, and simply because there is autonomy doesn't mean respect necessarily exists. I like Tom Peter's approach to control and empowerment. He believed in "tight-loose" -- tight (control) on fundamental, core items, with lots of freedom about how you go about achieving other objectives. We have acheived that balance in my school after years of the pendulum wrongly placed on the control side. We are seeing good results from it too...

See my email signature about not being overwhelmed by the tribe. I think it applies here...
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by nibbler » 29 Mar 2019, 12:04

I don't know how this fits into the larger debate but as I sit in on our discussions at church, specifically discussions about ministering, I can tell that there's a firm belief that we (church) know what's best for people, even if they themselves do not. Essentially we want to save people from themselves.

It can be misguided but in its own way it does show love and concern. From their perspective they are only trying to protect people from physical/spiritual predators.

I believe church culture often settles on coming up with rules and policies that carry their own consequences and that they are meant to serve as a deterrent to certain behaviors. Deterrents can keep some people in line but they can also cause people to miss the mark.
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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by hawkgrrrl » 29 Mar 2019, 22:18

Nibbler:
"there's a firm belief that we (church) know what's best for people, even if they themselves do not"
I think this is exactly what I am saying. That rather than teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves, we opt for the Big Brother / Singapore approach of "we want a community that looks like X, so we won't allow Y, Z or Q because we know what's best." I think you put it very well in saying that instead, they regulate personal choices in a very intrusive manner, and while it's with good intentions (safety, community needs, preventing what they fear could be greater harm), there are unintended consequences.

In Singapore there are some very strict penalties for things they don't like. For example, no chewing gum. No spitting in public. These are things that are mildly irritating to society (gum can make a place less beautiful if people put it on the ground which is one reason Disney doesn't sell it). But it also feels like it's just a tad too intrusive and restrictive, and don't they trust us to know how to throw away our gum? Instead I completely lost the taste for gum and I almost never chew it anymore now. Maybe that's an OK outcome.

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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by SamBee » 30 Mar 2019, 13:44

Bear in mind Singapore is highly advanced technologically, and I'm told the gum ban is partly to stop damage to machinery. We could easily remove chewing gum from society with no ill effects (except for nicotine gum which people use to give up smoking).

Public spitting? Well, I think we all have to spit outside on very rare occasions, but I don't like it when people do it all the time. Some people in my part of the world spit and clear their throat loudly to express aggression. There is also a hygiene issue, a lot of places banned it to help stop the spread of tuberculosis and other respiratory illnesses.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Re: Conservatism and Control vs. Autonomy and Respect

Post by SilentDawning » 01 Apr 2019, 06:20

Couldn't you argue that sometimes, you do know what is best for people, when they don't? For example, certain actions that in isolation seem harmless, can actually be very harmful to society as a whole. Pollution, for one -- you dump your extra chemicals in the river and think nothing more of it. Meanwhile all the fish die, ruining the local fishing trade, the local eco system, the sporting goods stores, people eat the fish and get sick, and children swimming in the river get cancer.

As someone who has mounted successful political action campaigns to defeat onerous legislation, I have a bit of philosophy about how governments might strike a better balance between implementing rules, and preserving freedom.

1. No R&R. I use this term to describe Rules without Research. Its allusion to Rest and Relaxation is also convenient. This is because too often, government law makers or bureaucrats propose laws to decision-making bodies that are implemented with very little research at all. It is LAZY LAWMAKING. And as a result, they create rules the lead to unintended consequences and curtail freedom and progress.

Our local county proposed a special events policy that was simply a copy of one of the most aggressive, self-centered-to-government event policies in our state. It was going to cost a non-profit $5000 to put on an event meant to raise money to beautify government assets (roadside traffic signal boxes) due to having to rent a dumpster to house 4 bags of garbage, and many other SILLY rules. Event organizers with a stake in the policy offered to meet with the Parks and Rec people implementing the silly policy AND THEY REFUSED.

You need to have hearings and listen to people who have a stake in the laws.

2. Legislators on the lookout for rules meant for the sheer convenience of government when rules are proposed.

3. Respect for economic growth and prosperity.

I was AMAZED during my political action compaign at the utter disrespect for business and proceed-making (I can't say profit-making because were not for profit). They did not care one hoot about whether their rules made it possible, or impossible to raise money for the non-profits who put on events.

So, to make this more church focused, I believe that the people at the top would make good rules (like they have been) by doing research and making plans that consider the hearts and minds of the people they are serving -- the members. Not simply making rules for their own convenience. I feel they are doing this. I am not sure if they actually hold focus groups. But I think the Internet has provided a face-saving place for the church to learn about what the members are truly thinking. I know they read StayLDS as I've seen less inspired talks call us out in their talks.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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