I'm very excited for school to start in a couple days - excited for my class on Monday, excited for my class on Tuesday, excited for the classes I'll teach on Tuesday even though I won't have Zoom as a crutch and wouldn't have chosen to start at 7:30 if it were up to me, excited for what feels like a five-day weekend every week but really isn't because it just means I need to be a very responsible adult and determine my own schedule for the many things I have to do outside of classroom time, excited for the vaccination mandate that USU is preparing to implement because asking nicely just isn't enough in Utah. The future is bright, up until the end of this year when I really need to start getting a handle on whether I'm going to get a PhD or just take a job somewhere and if so, where, and supposedly I'm going to get married at some point before I die and it would be really nice to have that at least underway by then so I could make these decisions with my wife or wife-to-be instead of us both charting our life paths separately and later struggling to mesh them together. But nobody asked me.
You know, my first first day of college was ten years ago. This may or may not be my last one. As a student, I mean. I should be waxing all nostalgic about that, as is my wont, but I don't feel articulate enough to do it justice right now.
Of course, the week or so leading up to school has its drawbacks, and my desire to just relax and savor it was somewhat thwarted. Logan Preferred Property Management sent the carpet cleaners to my apartment complex without telling anyone, sent the normal cleaner to my apartment complex without telling anyone, and sent roofers to replace the entire roof without telling anyone. All of us except my roommate who can sleep through anything were pretty pissed. When the roofers woke me up at 7 a.m. on Monday, I couldn't believe LPPM had the audacity to do that after I complained about the idiots with the chainsaw who had done the same thing despite being ordered not to start until 8. I complained again and got the same empty apology and reassurances. The next day the roofers started later, but on Wednesday they started banging away at 6:30, which is, as I understand it, illegal. So I complained to management for the third time, and apparently "illegal" was the magic word that got them to stop lying about addressing the problem and actually address the problem. I decided I'd file a noise complaint if it happened again, and then I decided I was pissed enough to file a noise complaint anyway.
I know what you may be thinking - Ah, Christopher, you fool, you complain about police all the time and now you suddenly need them. Why didn't you call a crackhead for help instead? Correction: I didn't "need" the police for anything. I could have dealt with the situation myself, but our society has arbitrarily decided that pushing people off of roofs is also illegal. So I looked online for some kind of form I could fill out instead of talking to a human, and stumbled instead on a different form entitled "Personnel Complaint". I got so excited about this that I considered the roofers a blessing in disguise.
As both of my long-time readers are aware, on January 14, 2020, aka the worst day of my life,
D'oh. Anyway, on that day I learned firsthand that police officers are the natural enemies of anyone with a mental illness, when Officer Nelson showed up to "help" me and instead did the opposite of that. I didn't do anything about it at the time. My first priority was to get out of the hospital before I got stuck with a buttload of medical debt (because 'Murica), and then my first priority was to live through the night despite the unbearable pain for my friend Katie's sake, and then I just kind of wandered through life as a shell of my former self for a couple months. I didn't know anything about formal complaint procedures and I feared the police retaliating against me if I did complain to them. You have to remember, this was before George Floyd became one police murder too many, and nobody was putting them in their place. As Officer Nelson was abusing me I knew that he knew he could do it because he had a blue uniform and de facto authority to kill anyone who didn't show him the respect he thought he deserved. If he hadn't been in a blue uniform, I would not have tolerated the way he spoke to me.
Largely thanks to the well-deserved anti-police backlash a few months later, I got over my fear enough that I started to hope he would see my blog posts or Facebook posts and comments where I told the world, usually in rather crude terms, exactly what I thought of him. And I knew I would not respond the same way if anything similar ever happened again. A while ago I had one of my occasional nightmares that the police were coming after me again, and I was terrified, but determined that despite my fear I was going to give them a piece of my mind. I woke up before that came to pass.
When I did briefly look into the possibility of a formal complaint, I read something about a six-month statute of limitations, and looked no further. I also knew that Derek Chauvin, in his nineteen-year career, had accumulated eighteen conduct complaints resulting in literally nothing but two letters from his boss asking him not to do it again. But this complaint form on Logan City Police Department's website said nothing at all about a time limit. And now the climate around policing is much different. I figure there's a very real chance of getting a tangible result. Even if I don't, I at least have the satisfaction of knowing that Officer Nelson has been blindsided by this coming back to bite him in the butt long after he'd forgotten about it, and by the realization that this doormat he trampled on actually has feelings and a brain. I wish I could see the look on his face when he reads my complaint. I'd like to think he already has, and that it ruined his weekend, but with bureaucracy being what it is I doubt it's moving that fast.
Another cop was there, but he said three sentences the entire time and wasn't a bully or a jackass, so I said little about him in my complaint but I did list him as my sole witness despite not knowing his name. I only know Officer Nelson's name because he told me. A few months ago when I was in a car crash and had to talk to a cop, he had his name printed on his uniform, but I'm pretty sure that was a post-George Floyd reform. Anyway, I'm sure they'll ask this cop to evaluate my account, and I can only hope that honesty is more important to him than backing the blue. On that note, the form claims that the investigation will be "objective", which is kind of a red flag whenever I see it because nobody on the planet is objective about things that matter to them at all. Even if they really are trying, police officers investigating another police officer are not going to be objective. They just aren't. They can, however, still do the right thing if they choose to be honest.
They'll surely consult with Brad Hansen, the USU police officer who first received my neighbors' complaint and delegated it to the city police. My neighbors went to him because he was in our bishopric. He never spoke to me again after that day, but I made a point of resting my hand on my face with the middle finger extended when he walked by, and I know he noticed. I'm excited for him to read my complaint too. And they really should ask my ex-neighbors about what they said and how they said it, because they more than likely were overdramatic and told some outright lies that influenced Officer Nelson's response to the situation. I didn't devote nearly as much space as I could have in my complaint to explaining why their complaint was wrong, because that's not really the point, but it is still relevant because Officer Nelson was an idiot to take it as gospel truth and never ask me about my side at all. I have let go of all malice toward my ex-neighbors because, as mentioned in my complaint, one was delusional and the other gullible. (And I was equally gullible, which is how the problem started.) It's the trained law enforcement personnel who should have known better.
I assumed that walking into the police station and handing my complaint to the woman at the desk - I visualized a woman at the desk with a few male cops nearby, and I told myself that was a sexist assumption to make, but of course that was exactly what I saw when I went - would be terrifying. I assumed that I would have to be courageous and push through the fear. But it wasn't and I didn't. It was no more stressful than going to the post office. Maybe God was with me. After the woman at the desk said "Hello" I felt a little bad at repaying her kindness with a personnel complaint form, but I wasn't about to back down at the last minute.
I made scans just in case she or someone else "misplaces" it. Here they are for posterity.
“I Would Not Risk My Salvation to Any Man”: Eliza R. Snow's Challenge to Salvific Coverture
Brigham Young and other nineteenth-century male church leaders taught that men were responsible for their wives' salvation. This probably goes a long way toward explaining why the endowment ceremony, which was given by Joseph Smith but first written down under President Young's direction 35 years later, perpetuated that idea until 2019. USU graduate student Brooke R. LeFevre coined the term "salvific coverture" for this teaching, drawing a parallel with the British and American common law practice of men absorbing their wives' identities and thus becoming responsible for all their legal and financial dealings. (This, of course, is why we still have the ubiquitous practice of women taking their husbands' last names. Barf.) In a recent article in the Journal of Mormon History, she documents how general Relief Society president Eliza R. Snow went around contradicting the male leaders by teaching women that they were responsible for their own salvation. You can't read the article unless you pay $14 or have access to it through an institution like I do, but you know it's a good article because USU graduate students are very intelligent and articulate writers.
Changes in LDS Hymns: Implications and Opportunities
In this old Dialogue article that fortunately is not behind a paywall because Dialogue is cool like that, Douglas Campbell looks at some of the lyrical adjustments made to LDS hymns between the 1835, 1927, 1948, and 1985 editions of the hymnbooks. I was most surprised to learn that the compilers of the 1985 edition bothered to change many instances of male-centric language - that is, using terms like "man", "men", "brothers", and "sons" to refer to the entire human race - to gender-neutral language. I was surprised because of course male-centric language remains ubiquitous throughout the hymns and our scriptures, and since we like to sound spiritual by quoting or paraphrasing hymns and scriptures, it has a big influence on our speech patterns within the Church even though nobody in the real world talks like that anymore. But if people noticed and addressed this issue in 1985, they certainly will all the more in the upcoming edition, so that's great. This issue wasn't on my radar whatsoever when I gave feedback on the hymnbook in 2019. I'm glad we're not all depending on me.
It also occurs to me that there's actually no reason at all why the male-centric language in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants - which were translated and written, respectively, in the nineteenth century (other than a couple bits of the latter that don't change the point I'm making) - couldn't or shouldn't be updated like it has been in modern Bible translations. Both have already undergone many revisions, but we're a lot more squeamish about fiddling with the text now than Joseph Smith was. If he can remove a bunch of repetitions of "And it came to pass" (yes, there used to be even more) and change "white and delightsome" to "pure and delightsome" then there's no reason why President Nelson or whomever can't change "Men are that they might have joy" to "People are that they might have joy".
A Mentor's Master's Missionary Memoir
In the USU library skimming the shelves for Sonia Johnson's memoir, I stumbled upon the Master's thesis of a Creative Nonfiction Writing teacher I had once, and read it first because it was much shorter. It was on a subject he had raised in class as well: the paucity of good, non-polemical literature about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that doesn't take a heavy-handed stance for or against. He took a step to rectify that with a little memoir of growing up in the Church, serving a mission, and losing his faith. It portrays the Church in a very human, not altogether flattering, but fair enough light. There's no sense that he's trying to expose anything or destroy anyone else's faith. That's the point. Still, I missed whatever theme was probably meant to tie all the anecdotes together. I easily got the sense that he wasn't all in, that he never had a burning testimony to begin with, but when he took a sip of beer with his friends and realized he was done with the Church and then the story just ended, it felt abrupt and unexplained. Of course, it may have been chock-full of foreshadowing that went over my stupid head.
What struck me was the number of spelling and grammatical errors - not a ton, certainly not enough to ruin it for me, but more than I would have expected in a Master's thesis. I was surprised his committee let him get away with it. I can't imagine Charles letting me get away with it. Anyway, that boosted my confidence in my ability to write a Master's thesis of my own. I don't mean this to sound denigrating to him at all - he was a great teacher and a great human being, and his writing is not bad by any means - but I feel like if he could do it, so can I. Sometimes I feel like this graduate school stuff requires me to be some kind of academic super genius that I'm not.
From Housewife to Heretic: One Woman's Spiritual Awakening and Her Excommunication from the Mormon Church
I never had much of an opinion on Sonia Johnson, a USU alumnus and possibly the most famous Latter-day Saint excommunicant of all time, though I questioned the mental health of a straight woman who grew so bored of men that she married a woman. Well, in 406 pages I could count on one hand the things I disagreed with. Of course, this is very much her personal story and as such a lot of it is subjective or unknowable by definition. I'm not qualified to evaluate the validity of her spiritual experiences or the accuracy of the thoughts, feelings, and motivations that she constantly imputes to every male she's ever interacted with. (And some of the women, too. Actually, I think she has more contempt for the Church's anti-ERA spokeswoman Beverly Campbell than anyone else. Not once in the entire book does she mention Sister Campbell's name, which I figured out from the accounts of some of the same events in Leonard J. Arrington's diaries, instead only calling her "the Chairman" over and over again.) And admittedly, toward the end I did stumble over a bit of shockingly obvious hypocrisy that I think undermines her credibility somewhat.
Page 360: "I recognized the same syndrome I had watched, aghast, in Virginia: the [Mormon] men behind the [Mormon] women, the women fronting for them... The men manipulating the women, telling them what to do and say; the women, like 'fembots,' going about saying and doing it, serving as unwitting tools of their own oppression."
Page 364: "Writing me off as a tool of the enemies of the church... is as convenient a way of disposing of me, and as often used against women, as labeling me 'emotionally disturbed.' It is highly unlikely that a man in my situation would be dismissed as merely being used by others without his understanding, without his volition. Patriarchal persons are so bogged down in stereotypes of women that they refuse to believe we can act on our own initiative out of our own integrity, as men do."
Nonetheless, her scathing observations of sexism in and out of the Church remain accurate forty years later to a far greater degree than I would care to admit. At times when her constant feminist rhetoric started to seem excessive, I asked myself, But is she wrong? I don't think she is. I do think she's emotionally disturbed, and that her state, as evidenced by her writings and political activities, has continued to deteriorate since, but she's had a hard life. The effects on her psyche of hearing adults talk about the Holocaust as a young girl during World War II, the constant delegitimization she experienced as a female teenager and young adult in the 1950s, feeling periodically depressed and unfulfilled as a housewife while her husband left for months at a time and never discussed his problems with her like an adult, then being totally blindsided when he tricked her into signing a divorce paper so he could leave her for another woman during the time when she needed his support the most, then being vilified and slandered by the religious community she devoted her life to and continued to love despite her differences - right or wrong, my heart aches for her. So does God's.
I can relate in a way to her feminist awakening because this year I had my own that's probably become quite annoying to readers of my blog. Mine was far less painful, but it's still left me with a fair amount of confusion and anger to work through. I was taught and believed for most of my life that because God values women and men equally, the Church values women and men equally, and therefore any teaching or practice that looks sexist isn't actually sexist if properly understood. Besides, Utah gave women the right to vote before almost anywhere else, so the Church must have always been progressive on female equality. I learned that neither of these assumptions is true around the same time I started to comprehend the extent to which sexism is woven into every human institution on Earth. Learning why most women take their husbands' last names felt like finding out I'd been eating human flesh my whole life. Sonia Johnson experienced sexism her whole life, but had no vocabulary or frame of reference to contextualize it or suggest that things should be different. She was in her early forties when it clicked. In the book she wrote a few years later, her anguish is still raw and palpable.
Sonia Johnson is an extremely talented writer, and there are so many quoteworthy passages, but only so much space in my humble little blog post. I will therefore zero in on a beautiful and funny poem she wrote in sacrament meeting one Sunday because, as the ward organist, she couldn't leave the chapel. I kind of want to frame a copy of it and give it to my bishop.
Power Play in Church
Here I am again, pouring out
to avoid being poured into, singing
to drown out the cacophony.
It's the "God's will for women" theme again
as decided and decreed by some man again
(a particularly virulent form
of hypocrisy in human males).
It is difficult to pour out, however,
as fast as he pours in
which hardly seems fair
since he is after all tampering with my life
not me with his.
Believe me, if it were vice versa,
if I were insisting that God intended
all men to be farmers because Adam
was a tiller of the soil
and any who resisted were in league
with you-know-who to destroy the family,
the nation, civilization -
If I were extolling the exquisite joys
of shoveling hog manure in subzero weather
and taking out endless mortgages
in withering heat
and from my spectator's seat
(light-years from such a fate myself)
pontificating that in these tasks
lay the righteous and complete fulfillment
of men's true natures,
hosts of embattled non-farmers would find
a quick way not only to shut me up
but to lock me up
Ah he's almost finished, dazzled by his own
magnanimity and noble condescension, awash
with zeal, unassailably righteous
and immensely comfortable
like a nineteenth-century missionary to darkest Africa.
It might smudge his shining smug to learn
that despite his dishonorable intentions
I won - I wrote louder than he talked,
and for the love I bear myself
I'll live louder than he talks
And I'll win.
Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement
From the early 1960s to the 2000s, Latter-day Saint housewife Helen B. Andelin followed what she believed was a literal calling from God to share the secret to happy and lasting marriages, namely, that women should act like stupid, helpless, emotionally manipulative children. There's a word for the kind of man who would be attracted to that kind of woman, and it rhymes with "jedophile". But her book Fascinating Womanhood, largely plagiarized from a series of 1920s pamphlets under a similar title, has sold over three million copies, and the classes she ran to teach its principles have continued in multiple countries after her death. The book and classes now play a large role in the extremely creepy "tradwife" movement of middle-class white women who feel liberated by embracing 1950s middle-class white gender roles. (I mention their whiteness because a. nobody of any other race could possibly think the 1950s was a good time to be alive in this country and b. their movement is, unsurprisingly, associated with the alt-right.)
This book gives a fair and balanced overview of the history of the movement, including the factors that shaped Helen Andelin's own life and worldview. It's very obvious that she was several fries short of a Happy Meal, so I don't want to mock her for doing what she really believed was right (even though it wasn't right and made the world a worse place). I was most fascinated to learn that she made several attempts to convince church leaders to endorse her program as a solution to the members' alarming divorce rate, but they just kind of ignored her until she gave up, and that caused her a severe crisis of faith but she decided she didn't need their approval to share God's message with the world. We dodged a bullet there. Also, her philosophy has had a more subtle, mainstream, and often unacknowledged influence on many other marriage help books, including a couple you've undoubtedly heard of - Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and The Propher Care and Feeding of Husbands. The common thread running through such works is that they promote degrading stereotypes about men and tell women that all marital problems are their own fault.
It's a shame Sister Andelin passed away before someone could host a debate between her and Sonia Johnson. I would pay good money to see that.
Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons
I also saw this one while browsing for Sonia Johnson's memoir, and decided to save it for last so I could end on a positive note after wading through some heavy stuff. This is a compilation of essays by various liberals and intellectuals trying to make it in a culture that's often very hostile to liberals and intellectuals. Since I find myself in a similar boat, I resonate with a lot of their words. I can't really do the book justice by trying to summarize all twenty essays in one go, so I shan't bother.
The Future of Women at Church: A Conversation with Neylan McBaine
I didn't read this, because it's not a thing to read, but I listened to it while doing a puzzle and I figured I'd tack it on to the end of this post rather than devote another one to it next week. Neylan McBaine is one of my heroes and I think everyone should listen to her.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently wrote,
"Dear Brothers and Sisters:
"We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.
"To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
"We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
"The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring"
Notably absent this time around is any mention of this being a personal decision. Obviously it still is one, but I'm guessing they got fed up with all the idiots cherry-picking that part of their last statement in a pathetic attempt to pretend they didn't really mean what they unambiguously said. Of course the omission didn't stop those people from twisting themselves into pretzels around this statement too, but now they know that they're lying to themselves even more than they knew they were lying to themselves last time.
I, for one, am exasperated that I need to start wearing a mask again over three months after I got fully vaccinated like a responsible person. I'm exasperated that Utah's intensive care units are now at 102% capacity because over half of my state's population has refused to get vaccinated. I'm exasperated that the virus continues to have opportunities to spread and mutate to the point where my vaccination may become useless because people are pretending not to understand how herd immunity works even though that was their argument for refusing to war masks and letting a bunch of preventable deaths happen in the first place. I'm exasperated that I've tried to do the right thing and follow health guidelines without complaint for so long and it doesn't matter because everyone around me thinks this whole thing is a joke. Meanwhile, as we in this country turn up our noses at the most miraculous vaccine in history being given away for free all over the place, people in less privileged countries are going through hell from this "flu" because they don't yet have access to it. They must be far more exasperated than I am.
Yesterday I went to a book club meeting yesterday for "Live Not By Lies" by Rod Dreher. Unfortunately, the entire discussion proceeded from the assumption that all of us agreed with everything in the book and only needed to figure out how to apply its teachings in our lives. I did agree with its overall message, but had several nitpicks about specifics and no opportunity to mention any of them even if they had been welcome, which they weren't. Dreher based his book on the assumption that Christianity and political conservatism are the same thing, which would make him feel right at home in Utah. Liberals in Utah (with the exception of Salt Lake City nearby areas) face the same stigma and fear of speaking up that conservatives complain about in the book. The guy next to me did raise a couple of nuanced opinions, but the hostess pushed back pretty hard. He's from the younger generation, she said, so he would think that people should face consequences for advocating death to homosexuals, and not understand that the First Amendment was created to protect hate speech. I think when someone recommended that we all listen to Candace Owens was the moment I knew I wouldn't be coming back.
Before the meeting, knowing that I struggle to articulate my thoughts verbally or insert myself into conversations of more than three people, I wrote my review of the book which I share here in case anyone actually does care what I have to say.
Update on my prostate:
My blood test and urine test results came back from the hospital eleven days later. The doctor didn't know why it took so long. I could have told him it's because the staff at Logan Regional Hospital doesn't see me as fully human, but I let it slide. The tests found no cause for concern other than the increased number of antibodies that one would expect in a swollen prostate. I have "lots of really good blood", he said. After using up my antibiotics I had to go in and let him stick his finger in me again to see if they were accomplishing anything. This time was worse. It took longer and I felt like I was about to ---- on the floor and I tried to disassociate myself and sing hymns in my head, but I couldn't because he kept talking to me. No, it doesn't hurt a bit, please stop. One part of my prostate was a little bit less swollen after two weeks, so he renewed the antibiotics. He also prescribed some other pills to make my bladder stronger and make me drowsy 24/7. The health center took another urine sample and he said there was still blood and protein in it. I wasn't aware that the last one had blood and protein in it. He said I may need to see a urologist if it doesn't resolve itself. In summary, I'm still kind of in hell.
Currently when boys in the United States of America turn 18, we have to register for a thing called Selective Service in order to access some of the rights and privileges of citizenship that girls get by turning 18, and also to not be charged with a felony. This means we get put on a list so we can be drafted into the military and sent off to our deaths if that need ever arises. I don't remember doing it, but I must have because I've gotten federal financial aid. Because women are now allowed to serve in any position in the military, there's a growing movement to replace this blatant sex discrimination with an equal-opportunity human rights violation by making them register for Selective Service too. The thought of abolishing the damn thing altogether doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone in power.
Valerie Hudson, however, argues in a recent editorial that the current status quo should be maintained, with men and women both eligible for military service but only men eligible for the draft. I expressed that same opinion once. My reasoning was that men were more evolved for war-type stuff, so while I would never cite evolution as a reason to forbid women from being in the military or doing whatever else their hearts desired, it seemed like a good enough reason to minimize unfairness by not forcing them to be in the military. I didn't think it was fair to force men either, but it was more reasonable because of evolution. Now I just think Selective Service and the draft should be abolished altogether. What's Dr. Hudson's logic, though?
"And I draw that line," she writes, "not for the reason tradition would give us: That women are weak or delicate creatures that must be protected. After all, most women in the world are not protected in any sense of the word. Would you enjoy living as a woman in Afghanistan, where 87% of women report having been assaulted? Or in Liberia, where the chance of dying incident to pregnancy is 1 in 8? Most women in poor countries do the lion’s share of the work of the household each day, and are given fewer calories to eat despite the fact that their daily work load forces them to expend far more energy than others in the household, including men. They watch their children die of preventable diseases and malnutrition because the powerful men of the country could not care less about such lowly matters. In truth, if women were weak, delicate creatures, the human race would have died out millennia ago.
"No, I do not oppose Selective Service registration for women because of their delicacy. I oppose it because a sex class analysis would reveal that women already sacrifice more for their country than men do, and women should not be asked to bear even more. There should be parity between men and women in the work of protecting our country and giving it a future. Selective Service registration for women would undo that parity, placing an unjustly heavy burden on women, and making their load far heavier than that of men."
She then proceeds to point out that far more women become mothers than men serve in the military, and far more women have died in childbirth than men have died in war. She notes that "The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is now more than double what it was 30 years ago (it’s now 17.4 per 100,000 and rising)." I didn't know that. I thought I lived in a first world country. I did know that black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and twice as likely to lose their babies, but since systemic racism is a myth and hospital staff (as I can attest firsthand from my experience with Logan Regional) treat all patients with the respect and dignity they're entitled to, these facts can only be explained as unfortunate but meaningless coincidences.
"And this doesn’t account," she continues, "for the 'mommy tax' on a woman’s lifetime earnings of having a child, which can amount to more than $1 million. The greatest risk factor for being poor in old age in the United States is to be a mother (and not a father). And the COVID-19 pandemic has made especially clear the profound economic cost dealt to working women - when the nation needed an army of mothers to step up, they did so at great cost to themselves." These facts, like the foregoing ones, are ----ed up. They speak to the profound sickness of a capitalist society that punishes people for valuing their families over increasing their employers' profits (which of course disproportionately affects mothers because pregnancy and childrearing responsibilities disproportionately affect mothers). Many things need to be reformed and many employers need to be put in their place. Capitalism is not pro-woman, pro-mother, or pro-family, it's pro-profit, full stop.
"But socialism is -" Did I say anything about socialism? Did I? No, I didn't, so don't change the subject.
I have been accused (by a man) of "denigrating motherhood" because I reject the fallacious analogy between motherhood for women and priesthood ordination for men that some people in my church are so fond of, and I suppose I'll be accused of it again after saying what I have to say next. Ahem: With a few possible exceptions, I actually don't believe that women or men deserve to be venerated just for reproducing. Yeah, the miracle of life is cool and all, and pregnancy is a significant sacrifice, but being fertile says nothing whatsoever about your worthiness or competence as a parent. It's literally the least important part of parenthood. Many people have given birth who really shouldn't have. Some parents abuse, some parents neglect, some parents warp their children for life with their unconscionable stupidity, some parents try to cure their children's autism by making them drink bleach, and so on. Have you ever read about Donald Trump's father? When I did, I realized that Donald Trump never had any chance of growing up to be a decent human being. I actually feel bad for him.
After attending my sister's temple sealing a few months ago, I reflected on the oddity of focusing so much on the commandment "Multiply and replenish the Earth." First of all, it's a bad translation that we keep repeating verbatim because we'd rather sound "scriptural" than make sense. In order to be replenished, the Earth must once already been plenished. This phrasing kind of implies that Adam and Eve were actually the sole survivors of a disaster that killed billions. Well, Lillith was there too, but the nuclear fallout turned her into a demon.
God: Multiply and replenish the Earth.
Eve: Uh, you do realize we need about five hundred breeding individuals to ensure a viable, genetically diverse species, right? You do realize our kids will have to -
God: Don't worry, I'll perform a miracle to make it not incest.
Narrator: But he didn't, and that explains the state of humanity today.
(I was going to say the narrator was voiced by Morgan Freeman, but then I remembered that he also played God in a couple of movies, so that felt weird.)
For sure, my church devotes plenty of time and energy is given in other venues to telling people to be good parents and advising them on how to do so, but taken at face value, this commandment to make babies for babies' sake just seems odd. A couple who has four kids and sells them all for drinking money is following this commandment, while a couple who adopts twelve kids, moves heaven and earth to meet their needs, and teaches them to be productive members of society is not. You could, of course, argue a broader and more figurative definition for "multiply and replenish", but then it would have to also include many things that have nothing to do with parenthood at all. I wouldn't object to that, but it seems like a stretch.
While reproduction is, as Dr. Hudson points out, obviously crucial to the future of the United States and every other nation, it's a group effort that transcends any individual birth. Not every person brought into this world improves it just by existing. I think of Derek Chauvin's mother, who recently told him at his sentencing that the day he was born was the happiest of her life. She isn't wrong to love him even though he's an abuser and a murderer, and she couldn't have possibly known he would turn out to be an abuser and a murderer - though she is wrong to deny that he's an abuser and a murderer when the entire world has seen his handiwork - but the fact remains that this country would have been a better place without him in it. I'm not going to thank his mother for giving birth to him anytime soon. Actually, come to think of it, if your child murders someone, the Earth's population has a net increase of zero and your attempt to multiply and replenish it has been retroactively thwarted. Let's hope they only murder one person and you have backup children who are better behaved.
Anyway, I guess I kind of agree with Dr. Hudson and kind of don't. The facts she points out should anger any reasonable person, but I don't venerate people for reproducing and I think her overall argument is moot because Selective Service and the draft should be abolished altogether.
BONUS: Recently I showed my true misogynistic colors. I am ashamed of myself.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.