Oppression of Women

28 Jul

This is going to be very brief, as it is a reaction to another blog I have recently been commenting on. You can read it here.

Now, I am not going to start a large discussion at this time. I do not believe that the LDS church in anyway oppresses women, though I know that many hold the opinion that it does. I am just going to ask a simple question of all those reading this. Do you believe the LDS church oppresses women? I am asking this because I am very curious to know what other people think, and this seems to be a fast way to find out.

If you are going to answer please indicate if your membership status and your gender.

Thank you.



27 Responses to “Oppression of Women”

  1. flowerofthewoods July 28, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    No, the church is not oppressive of women at all. In my experience, I felt that my youth leaders failed in teaching me the divinity of womanhood, because they were too busy pushing me to go to college and start a career. I showed them by choosing to be a housewife anyway! Ha ha!

    I consider myself to be an ex-member, though I still attend church activities.

    • shematwater July 30, 2014 at 12:23 am #

      Thank you for the comment.
      I too see a little too much of a push into careers and school.

  2. Agelius July 29, 2014 at 3:21 am #

    Having looked over that other conversation, you’ve got to admit that “I believe that all of these things that look like oppression aren’t” over and over again isn’t really a compelling argument.

    • shematwater July 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

      My point was not that these things aren’t oppressive, but that they are not supported by the doctrine of the church. The only thing that is supported by the doctrine is that women are not ordained to the priesthood, and on this point I do not think it is oppressive.

      • Agelius July 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

        True. There are just two problems with that. One, just because a widespread practice is cultural rather than doctrinal doesn’t mean it’s not a part of the church. And two, thousands of women find our policy ref. ordination to be oppressive, and are unconvinced by our “separate roles” argument. Who am I, as someone who has neither experienced being excluded from the preisthood, nor experienced the “other role” that is supposed to make up for the exclusion, to say otherwise? The insistence that the role of motherhood is just as good coming from a bunch of men is not really compelling.

        I personally agree with you. I’m just saying that all you really had is your opinion that it’s not oppressive. Since it’s an inherently subjective thing, insisting that your opinion holds ascendancy over theirs is not compelling, and more than a little rude.

      • shematwater July 30, 2014 at 12:09 am #


        I agree with you, and in my comments I pointed out that this is the case. I was actually ridiculed for saying it was a matter of perception. I never held my opinion as greater or more correct, only different.
        The only thing I held in ascendency was the actual doctrine itself, not my opinion.

        Now, I agree that the standing of mothers coming from men is not the greatest argument. But it doesn’t just come from men. It comes from most of the women as well. There are women among the General Authorities and they are say the same thing. They agree with the men. Most every women I know in the church agrees with this as well. So it is not just the men, despite what some people want to claim.
        This actually reminds me of the whole plural marriage issue. People went on and on about how the women couldn’t possibly be accepting of the practice and if given the chance would vote to ban it. So Utah gave the women the right to vote and the women turned out in great numbers to support the practice. After that people started going on about how the women obviously only voted how their husbands told them too, and so Utah was forced to deny women the right to vote in order to become a state.
        Now, this is a general statement, and not intended to be directed toward any individual; but it is my experience that when a person’s perceptions of something are challenged they are more likely blame the person or group challenging them then to amend their perception (and yes, I am guilty of this as well).

      • Agelius August 2, 2014 at 4:43 am #

        If insisting that she only believes what she does because she was taught it’s oppression, in fulfillment of a prophecy that evil would be called good and good evil, isn’t putting your view in ascendancy over hers, then nothing is.

      • Agelius August 2, 2014 at 5:49 am #

        Ah well. I guess asking for a little compassion from those who claim to follow Christ is a bit too much these days. I just hope people reading this realize not all mormons are like this. Shematwater may go to the same church as I do, but he’s no brother of mine. You won’t be hearing from me again.

      • tphilips August 2, 2014 at 6:16 am #

        Seconded. Shematwater wants to know what the church can be expected to do about a culture of abuse? Well I think that sending a clear message that defending that culture is unacceptable is a good place to start. I think it’s important to make it clear to anyone who might be lurking (at least a few, given the number of tallied votes compared to the number of discussion participants) that shematwater does not represent all of us.

      • Yunalesca August 2, 2014 at 7:10 am #

        Agelius, thanks for speaking up, that’s esxactly how i feel! I’m sure shematwater will think this is just more proof if people thinking good is evil, but I don’t want ppl to think we’re all like that. Sry for bad english it’s not my first language.

      • m0n0t0ny August 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

        Thank you Agelius. I hate the stereotype of the hardhearted, bigoted mormon, and it’s painful every time I see it justified like this.

  3. Bishop Arnes July 29, 2014 at 3:39 am #

    It’s no wonder you got blocked. Insisting to traumatized victims of abuse that their abuse wasn’t real is about one of the worst things you can do to a person. A little more compassion in your approach might have gone over a bit better, she’s obviously been through a lot of pain, and pretty much all you did was insist that she was wrong to have been hurt by the things that hurt her. I agree that any oppression on the part of the church is unintentional at worst, but it’s still a huge, sometime bureaucratic machine, run by flawed humans like you and me. Sometimes that machine runs people over. I’ve seen it happen, and if in your defense of the church you insist that the church is flawless and they must have been in the wrong themselves somehow to be hurt by it, all you’ll do is hurt them more and drive them away.

    When someone has been hurt by the church my approach is always to sincerely apologize, because if the church has hurt someone that deeply then it means something has gone wrong, even if I can’t grasp what that is. I ask if there’s anything I can do to help, and give them plenty of space and time to heal. Even if they don’t return to the fold, trust in Christ to mend their hearts, don’t add to their pain by insisting that they’re wrong to be hurt. Sometimes hearts mend and they’ll return to the fold, but if not, trust in Christ as the ultimate healer to bring them the healing they need.

    I looked over her blog and some of her other posts. The impression I get is that she’s a young woman who’s struggling because she’s been abused and hurt over and over and over again. She obviously connects the abuse she received at the hands of her father with the church. Maybe it’s justified – maybe it’s because in her ward, the bishop did support it. Awful as it is, it happens. Maybe it’s not justified. But the point is, we don’t know. If sharing her pain in those blog posts is a way to help her heal, let her have that. When someone starts to open their heart to let go of the pain that they’ve been holding on to, the surest way to stop that healing process is to blunder in and hurt things worse.

    • shematwater July 30, 2014 at 12:18 am #

      While I appreciate your comments, I would be more appreciative of an answer to the question. Do you think the church oppresses women; yes or no. If yes, please explain why you think that is the case.

      As for myself I do not believe it does. I believe people do oppress others, and many do so under the guise of the church, but that is not the churches responsibility. That is the responsibility of those involved. I have had my experiences with oppressive leaders in the church, both men and women. That is the fault of those leaders, and they will have answer for it at some point. But for me to be angry at the church would also be wrong; like those who turn from God over the anger of loosing a loved one.
      I do not doubt that people are hurt, and I do not doubt that it happens in the church. But I do not blame the church for any of it, and I will defend the church against what I see to be unjust accusations.

      • Bishop Arnes July 30, 2014 at 12:33 am #

        I absolutely think it does. I’ve had far too many victims of oppression done in the church’s name in my office to believe otherwise. What is the church, but the sum of its members? You can’t separate the church from what is done by its members in its name. When members of the church do evil things in the church’s name, and the church in general stands by them and excuses their behavior, then that is the fault of the church. It breaks my heart to see people like you who are so eager to “defend the church against unjust accusations” that they simply reinforce the view that the church considers its image more important than the people it hurts, rather than seeking to heal the wounds we’ve caused. When people see oppression in the church, don’t defend the church, condemn the oppression. Don’t insist the church is better than that, because people who have been hurt *be* better than that and let your actions speak for themselves.

      • robinobishop July 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

        Then it stands to reason that John the Revelatory and Jesus who appointed him are both culpable 2,000 years later for Charles Manson’s Helter Skelter. For starters……….

      • shematwater July 30, 2014 at 7:39 pm #


        I do condemn oppression, where ever it occurs. I just know that the church is not at fault.
        Yes, I separate the church from its members, as we should do with any organization. I do not hold the church accountable for the actions of any individual, or group of individuals; only for actions taken as a church.

      • Bishop Arnes July 31, 2014 at 4:49 am #

        So it’s your position that only actions that are in accordance with an organization’s official policy can be considered to be the fault of that organization? BP is innocent in the gulf oil spill, since that was the result of actions of mere employees, rather than part of the company as a whole? The catholic church isn’t at all responsible for the abuses children have suffered at the hands of its priests, since that was the actions of individuals, not the policy of the church? Companies with toxic corporate cultures that support sexual harassment are in the clear, since they have policies clearly stating that sexual harassment isn’t allowed?

      • robinobishop July 31, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

        Shame on you Arnes. There is no sentiment here from anyone suggesting folks cannot be oppressed systematically (organizationally). Victims self-identify in and out of every organization demanding equal treatment where it is perceived to be lacking in some way, any way. There are folks distant from any understanding of circumstances who are oppressed because others they do not know report being offended. Life isn’t fair to anyone, Arnes. What are you going to do for all those who are oppressed by something?

      • Bishop Arnes July 31, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

        Really? I said that I considered widespread abuses committed by church members in the church’s name to amount to oppression by the church, and shematwater insists that the church should only be held responsible for actions taken “as a church,” rather than the actions of its members, and states that he holds the same view for other organizations. I never claimed that anyone indicated systematic oppression could not happen as you seem to think, I merely contest the idea that an organization shouldn’t be held responsible. If it is your view that the organizations are responsible in the cases I mentioned, what is it that you think differentiates the high level of incidence of, for example, women being abused by their husbands, and being told by their bishops that it’s their responsibility to endure it without reporting it to the authorities? I’ve encountered enough incidents of this and other, similar situations, to see that, clearly, the church has a problem that needs to be fixed. I do what I can in my own ward, but my scope of authority is limited, and when I try to point out that there’s a problem, there’s massive resistance – usually on the basis of “the church isn’t responsible for the actions of its members,” which we see here and now. It seems that to many, admitting that there’s a problem is a greater sin than leaving the problem unattended.

  4. robinobishop July 29, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    Not a random sample.

    • shematwater July 30, 2014 at 12:09 am #


      • robinobishop July 30, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

        The results of the poll in any event are not from a statistical sample. Those who take the poll are not acquired randomly. The poll is not valid and cannot be generalized to suppose anything.

      • shematwater August 2, 2014 at 1:29 am #

        Did I ever claim the poll would be a valid scientific research effort. I merely stated that I wondered what others thought, and in my position this was the fastest way to get a simple and direct answer that showed this.

  5. shematwater August 2, 2014 at 2:01 am #


    “So it’s your position that only actions that are in accordance with an organization’s official policy can be considered to be the fault of that organization?”

    This is not what I said at all. I don’t care if an action is in accordance with official policy or not; only if the actions is performed by the organization, and not simply by one or more members. In other words, if a group of Wal-Mart employees decided to vandalize a competing store I would not hold Wal-Mart responsible, unless it was shown that they were acting under orders.

    “BP is innocent in the gulf oil spill, since that was the result of actions of mere employees, rather than part of the company as a whole?”
    As it was an accident, I don’t really hold anyone guilty. The situation arose from poor decisions made by many people, and not just those of BP. BP acted quickly and tried to contain the situation to the best of its ability. I think calling anyone guilty in this case would be wrong.

    “The catholic church isn’t at all responsible for the abuses children have suffered at the hands of its priests, since that was the actions of individuals, not the policy of the church?”
    The Catholic church is only guilty when it engages in a cover-up and does nothing about such actions. Even then it is not responsible for what did happen, only for what is allowed to happen because of the cover-up.

    “Companies with toxic corporate cultures that support sexual harassment are in the clear, since they have policies clearly stating that sexual harassment isn’t allowed?”
    Honestly, this one is way to vague to actually give an opinion. Sexual harassment is a relative thing (some say that looking at a women, or saying you like her blouse is harassment). So the example is not really a good one, unless you can give specifics.

    As to oppression in the church, you mention abusive husbands that are basically defended by their Bishop; again without specifics I can make no comment.
    Regardless, what do you want the church to do? If a woman is oppressed by her husband, especially in the way implied in the blog I sited, then there really is no action the church can take. The actions of the church are limited to church privileges. So, there can be a suspending of ones privilege of the sacrament; disfellowship; or excommunication; which would you suggest?
    A member’s actions only reflect on the church if the church is able to take actions and chooses not too. Even then one must also consider the amount of time, money, and effort that some actions would require as compared to the situation in which it is being asked for.

    • Bishop Arnes August 2, 2014 at 3:27 am #

      Must be interesting, living in a world where nobody is held responsible for the actions of their subordinates. I’ll be honest, I’m kind of jealous. Oh well, if your faith is threatened by the idea that your church still has room to be better, I guess you do what you have to do.

    • Bishop Arnes August 2, 2014 at 4:28 am #

      Also as an aside: the idea that the lack of an easy solution implies that there isn’t a problem is… strange. If you truly believe that the Lord thinks we’re already perfect, and you think that Christ, in your shoes, would spend his time defending our perfectly and attacking abuse victims because he feels their anger is misplaced rather than seeking to heal them, then by all means continue. For myself, I find your behavior abhorrent. I’ll darken your doorway no more, I shake the dust off my feet and leave this place.


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