The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

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Gerald
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The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by Gerald » 23 May 2019, 16:14

The discussion thread "Women in a Man's Church" has been an interesting read. Around the same time I was exploring that thread, I came across this post on Wheat and Tares

https://wheatandtares.org/2019/05/21/sh ... -identity/

It's interesting but what caught my eye was one of the comments.
My place of employment (a college) recently hired a new VP. I knew nothing about the guy. He presented the usual VP report at in-service before semester started. This was my first experience with him. I began picking up on a certain vibe…..surely this guy had to be Mormon! My co-worker, never a Mormon herself, but interested in Mormon culture insofar as her place in the community allowed her to befriend and interact with a lot of the local Mormons, leaned over to me and said, “He’s a Mormon.” She confirmed what I suspected.

What was it that gave him away?

A certain emasculated self-deprecating goofiness. Having been a Mormon all my life until I turned 37, at which point I began my departure
Walking back to our offices afterwards, the same co-worker (also the faculty sponsor for the college Gay Straight Alliance) said, “The VP acts in the way that many Mormon men act: goofy but harmless. It is strange….for a church that has its well-known position against LGBT issues, many of the Mormon men I have met are strangely effeminate.”

It is never a good idea to generalize, but the Mormon worldview and the culture that developed out of it has actually altered behavioral habits, such as verbal patterns and inflection of speech, body language, etc. I recognize these when I see them, even though I grew up far outside the Mormon Corridor, just about as far as one can be without leaving the borders of the USA. The Saints I grew up among did not carry these behaviors. We were a small minority. But in the late 80s Mormons from Utah flooded into our small ward, almost doubling its size. Then I began to see it.
My never-Mormon co-worker (she went to school in MA) has had enough interaction with Mormons to see it, too.
It made me reflect on how men behave in the Church (and I have to say the "self-deprecating goofiness" description hit a little close to home.) I've known a FEW men that I would describe that way. I wondered if the description struck a chord with anyone or is it an overgeneralization?
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by hawkgrrrl » 23 May 2019, 17:33

It did strike a chord with me as well. I once used the term "delicate sexism" to describe what I had observed. I noticed that there were still a LOT of sexist assumptions about men & women in the church, and yet, at the same time, Mormon men are more emotional, sweet, and kind (on average), and IMO much better partners in parenting. I'd stack Mormon men up against Evangelical men (or any other religion) any day for being willing to co-parent, change diapers, etc. Our focus on gender roles doesn't (usually) get actual men off the hook for involvement in their kids' lives, at least not people in my age group and younger. I do frequently cringe when GAs or apostles share stories about being out of their depth in parenting moments and everyone gives them a courtesy laugh.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 23 May 2019, 19:10

I think that is an excellent description of a common type of Mormon man. I wouldn't use the word "emasculated", given its negative connotations (which is ironic, I know, given the other conversation). I would say Mormon men often are more balanced when it comes to sex and gender stereotypes than many other men, even many leaders who perpetuate the sex/gender-based power differential in the Church. I love that about the LDS Church, even if it is nowhere close to universal among the membership. It is a stark, good, positive, notable difference. Generally speaking, Mormon men really are nice, kind, sensitive people - and that is visible to others.

That dichotomy (men who support, at least tacitly, a strong patriarchal hierarchy while having stereotypically female characteristics) is a huge part of why any discussions about sex/gender-based issues are difficult for many Mormon men with whom I have spoken. They don't fit the general cultural stereotype, and neither do a large percentage of other Mormon men they know personally. There is relatively little blatant, virulent, extreme sexism among the membership, so it can be very hard to see and recognize "benevolent sexism" (like putting women on a moral and spiritual pedestal but allowing that pedestal to limit female input and involvement in leadership decisions). The common horizontal equality in so many homes makes it difficult to recognize the issues inherent in an unequal, vertical hierarchy.

Thanks for sharing the post. It is an excellent partner with the other post.
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Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Roy
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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by Roy » 24 May 2019, 12:34

Curt Sunshine wrote:
23 May 2019, 19:10
"benevolent sexism" (like putting women on a moral and spiritual pedestal but allowing that pedestal to limit female input and involvement in leadership decisions).
I think this is a pretty good description. We say that motherhood is a most important job in the world and that we as men would not be able to do it justice and we use that to justify limiting the choices of women.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by hawkgrrrl » 24 May 2019, 12:49

We say that motherhood is a most important job in the world and that we as men would not be able to do it justice and we use that to justify limiting the choices of women.
I definitely agree that this happens, and as a woman who doesn't have whatever these qualities are that supposedly come so naturally to all women, it's hard to listen to the majority of church rhetoric to women because it's (to me) so obviously BS and doesn't really apply to me.

But, to the point of this post, the church does something really well in taking fatherhood seriously.

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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by Roy » 24 May 2019, 13:03

hawkgrrrl wrote:
24 May 2019, 12:49
But, to the point of this post, the church does something really well in taking fatherhood seriously.
Yes, I believe that priesthood is sometimes framed as a responsibility to be involved in the parenting inside the home.

Some have believed in times past that the men's role was to protect and provide and remain somewhat detached in order to better enforce order. I believe this is where sometimes mothers would say, "just wait till your father gets home" and delegate the disciplinarian tasks to him.

In more recent times men may feel rudderless, without a clear role, since female companions are now taking a much more active role in the provide and protect category.

The church designation of priesthood and "head of household" still gives men something to do - a calling and purpose. I believe that we are socialized to respect women and socialized to aspire to husband and family life for our sense of fulfillment. I know that I saw - even as a single man - becoming the best husband and father that I can be as prepatory to meeting my potential in the afterlife.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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jamison
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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by jamison » 07 Jun 2019, 14:22

I feel that the chruch disdains and estranges a man's man. Working class men that are rough around the edges are not accepted in Mormon culture. At times I would like to deck half of the Elders quorum with their weak pithy responses and attitudes. I get sick and tired of hearing men say how much better their spouse is than them, and they don't know where they would be without them. My ex-wife is in hell (figuratively speaking) and lost custody of all of her children, even the one's she had out of wedlock with partners after me. How could I relate to such a pathetic comment. Some people are more spiritual than others, and more righteous irregardless of their gender. The whole political correctness of gender outside the church has tainted the church as a whole. Evangelicals have better books on men being men of Christ than the True Church. Men are just told to love their wives and honor their Priesthood. I see women in Utah enabled to the point that when their spouse dies, they are unable to do hardly anything. What did these women do all day? Pathetic. D. Todd Christofferson gave a talk about men in the church. I think it came 5 years too late. I do not think it is a great topic to discuss since we are in a society that is more gender neutral. I can change diapers, do laundry, cook, and clean, do crafts just as good as women I know, if not better than some. Be a great person, and strive to excel at all things irregardless of gender stereotypes. I told the relief society recently when my wife was hospitalized. I appreciate the meals because it allows me time to visit my wife without having to stress out over another thing to do. I told the RS president. I can cook just fine, but I just do not have the time when I am working hours of overtime, and need to attend to other duties. I think the RS President thought I could not cook at all, and what men cook? Once again a gender stereotype entered the equation.
"Ignorance, fear, and conflict are the basic elements of everyday consciousness" Marvin Harris -- Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches.

BJE
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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by BJE » 07 Jun 2019, 20:22

I read the wheat and tares post to my family. They laughed and agreed. We could name a lot of men we know that fit the emasculated goofy self deprecating effeminate description. As for myself and my sons, we are the exact opposite of those descriptions. We are emboldened, serious minded, assertive and masculine.

As was said earlier, there aren’t many men’s men in the church it seems. Like in PC society, men have been sissified. Society looks down on manly men as being Neanderthals.

I think that grooming standards at church universities, church employment and with missionaries which do not allow facial hair are very emasculating.

We went out to eat as a family the other night and afterwards I told my family that our waiter must have been LDS because he was goofy and effeminate. 😄

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Gerald
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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by Gerald » 09 Jun 2019, 06:33

I feel that the chruch disdains and estranges a man's man. Working class men that are rough around the edges are not accepted in Mormon culture.
I hadn't thought about this but I think I have to agree. I live in a ward (and have lived in wards) with a number of men "rough around the edges." Their discomfort in Sunday School and Priesthood meetings is often palpable. I can see why some men may have a hard time connecting with the Church when leaders tend towards the "warm-nurturing" end of the spectrum. Our bishopric is composed of two men who definitely fit that Mormon stereotype and one who is "rough around the edges." It's actually refreshing to have someone conduct meetings who is a bit out of the "Mormon" mold.

Of course, I think men in general can struggle to connect with one another in any context.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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DarkJedi
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Re: The Nature of Men in the LDS Church

Post by DarkJedi » 09 Jun 2019, 06:59

Gerald wrote:
09 Jun 2019, 06:33
I feel that the chruch disdains and estranges a man's man. Working class men that are rough around the edges are not accepted in Mormon culture.
I hadn't thought about this but I think I have to agree. I live in a ward (and have lived in wards) with a number of men "rough around the edges." Their discomfort in Sunday School and Priesthood meetings is often palpable. I can see why some men may have a hard time connecting with the Church when leaders tend towards the "warm-nurturing" end of the spectrum. Our bishopric is composed of two men who definitely fit that Mormon stereotype and one who is "rough around the edges." It's actually refreshing to have someone conduct meetings who is a bit out of the "Mormon" mold.

Of course, I think men in general can struggle to connect with one another in any context.
I think this is one of those cases where we need to be careful to distinguish between what "the church teaches" and what people in the church teach. Just saying.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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