Who even knew?

I won't bore you with what I've been up to for the last month (growing, packing, moving, unpacking, commuting, growing some more, getting kicked lots (by internal baby, not by external people)) but I will share a story from my new ward that you may find interesting.

GH and I recently moved to the northern part of Utah County and are discovering its strange new wonders. Our first Sunday at church was a real eye-opener because the discussion kept turning to politics and What The Gays Are Up To. (And this was before the President Packer talk and subsequent hulabaloo, mind you.)

This week was much more normal and less "grab your torches and pitchforks." So I'm hoping that first Sunday was maybe a fluke. But I do have Carina's list of gentle conversational redirects in my scriptures, just in case I need to use them. Also I found an air conditioning vent on the floor in the Relief Society room, so I parked myself over it and experienced nearly two hours of sheer bliss. Mmmmmmmmmm . . .

Anyway. Point.

A high council member visited the ward and spoke in sacrament meeting. He was talking about missionary work, since it's something President Monson brought up at General Conference as being on his mind. So he was talking about the decreasing numbers of missionaries, and what we can do to help prepare boys to be successful missionaries, etc.

And then this happened:

As sort of an aside, he started talking about what happens when the guys who do serve missions get home and leave the family wards and we lose track of them because they head off to college, where they struggle because all anybody does is spend time on Facebook so there are no social opportunities. In college. (His words.) And then he was like, "And we want these young men to get married and return to the family wards, but where are they going to find companions to marry?"

Which is where I whispered to GH, "Um, at college?"

But the high councilman said that the problem (wait for it . . . ) is that the young women of the church, who used to have the Plan A of getting married in the temple and becoming mothers back when they were 12 years old, have, now that they're older, all become focused on Plan B instead: Their education and careers.

So. It seems that all those coeds at BYU and UVU are just consumed by their careers now. Consumed. Don't you feel so enlightened now that the cause of the problem has been identified?

Have decided that this sweet, well-intentioned man must be getting this line from somewhere. So this is likely what his sons/nephews/closeted gay relatives have been telling him when he asks them why they're not married yet, or why they aren't dating more. "These girls, all they care about are their careers! That's why they won't go out with me." Um, guys? I call B.S. The Elementary Education/Early Childhood Education/Family Sciences programs at BYU are not packed to the gills because of women's cutthroat desire to go out and take names as preschool teachers. I'm just saying. It's true that we may have a Plan B, but it's still Plan B. It's not Plan A. If it were, that's what we would call it. And since Plan B is always a very real possibility for who-knows-how-long, it might as well be a kick-trash one. The kind that comes with good medical benefits. And trips to Europe. And gelato. And flings with English men.

My sister Spitfire reminded me of the time when we were in the same L**** singles ward, and she turned down a very nice guy after a couple of dates because she realized that they did not click and she wasn't interested in pursuing anything. So then his brother (also in our ward) got up in Elder's Quorum and went off about how the women of the church "don't have their priorities straight." Nice one. Just because a girl turns you down it doesn't mean she's not interested in dating/marriage. She's just not interested in doing those things with YOU. Assuming that the young men in question are even asking women out in the first place. (GH asserts that this goes both ways, with women assuming that men aren't dating when really, they're just not dating them. I am not sure I want to believe him, as this would alter my entire worldview.)

The rest of the talk was normal and fine, but he did say that since they aren't under the same obligation to serve missions, he hopes we can encourage the young ladies to renew their commitment to temple marriage and motherhood.

And, I dunno, maybe drop out of college or something. Because that'll fix things.


Stephanie said... [reply]

Oh boo. Remind me, why can't we talk about Jesus at church?

Frankly, I'm tired of the world-creating a false dichotomy- you either want Plan A or Plan B. I always wanted both plans. I didn't see my education/career as something that got in the way of marriage/children. I don't see marriage/children as something that eliminates my need for education/career.

My Plan A works together with my Plan B. Right now, I am working. Maybe someday I will be a SAHM. Maybe someday I will be whatever acronym we apply to working mothers. Maybe someday I will go back to school. Who knows?

I guess what I am not-so-clearly saying is that I never really had a Plan A (get married, have kids) or a Plan B (get a degree, have career.)

I had a Plan Kickass. Degrees! Jobs! Relationships! Potential for spit-up and barf! What is not to love about Plan Kickass?

Anonymous said... [reply]

DUDE! I just had to sit through a Gospel Doctrine (previously my favorite class) where the teacher used the prophecies in Isaiah as a jumping off point as to why Glee is trash tv and just goes to show that we're in The Last Days [tm] cuz everyone knows real cheerleaders don't get pregnant. I asked her to get back to Isaiah and she shot me down -- "NO, I have a few more points to make". Those points included a diatribe on The Gays. And let me tell you, we're in Southern California, not anywhere in the promised land.

My dh and I are considering a move to UT for house-buying purposes (it will just never happen for us here), but if it's this bad HERE, will our lefty Jesus-loving souls survive there??

Azúcar said... [reply]

I'm going to Hell with my degree firmly in my hand.

Miri said... [reply]

I never know, when I hear these stories, whether to laugh or tear out my hair. I had the same experiences when I was at BYU. The sad thing is that sometimes people in the Church have certain connections already made in their minds and are apparently incapable of questioning those connections--they know some young people who aren't married by age 22, ERGO, someone doesn't have their priorities straight. Someone votes Democrat, so it's because they are wild and rebellious. A guy doesn't go on a mission so he's a second-class Mormon for the rest of his life. It's usually not intentional, but it's still there. Frustrating.

Scully said... [reply]

Upfront I will say I am laying in bed with a cold on my 32nd birthday with nary a British dreamboat in sight to make me chicken soup. So, perhaps I am a little bitter. However, I would like to weigh in on this Plan A/Plan B 'no girls date' stuff.

First, in my many past years of single-ward attendance, it has seemed that 65% of the men in the ward wanted to date the same 5% of the woman in the ward. Which means that the rest of the woman who were interested in the dating/marriage thing were either left to feel wretched about the situation and/or themselves OR focus on what they could control, which was Plan B. Then, those who are focusing on Plan B get a reputation for focusing on Plan B and then labeled as having the wrong priorities.

I always want to ask people who suggest I have my priorities wrong, what exactly I'm supposed to be doing with my life as a single 30-something that would prove I do actually want the marriage & family life. Live with my father, wasting away in spinsterhood and not contributing to the world around me? Work a dead-end job that requires no personal growth in the hopes that I will not intimidate anyone?

Kelly said... [reply]

To Scully I say, word. I always wondered what exactly I was supposed to be doing if not educating myself when Mr. Right didn't show up on my 23rd (or 25th or 27th) birthday?

Actually, I'm sort of struggling with combining Plans A and B at this point. Law school left me with student debt, meaning that life got more complicated when I got married and had to start thinking about having kids and how that's all going to work out. However, at no time did I ever think, "Education over marriage!" I've always been driven, education-wise, and I've always wanted to get married and have a family.

I used to get that vibe from {mormon} guys not wanting a girl who was educated, or who they perceived as wanting something other than to be a wife. Which just made me think, I guess those aren't the guys I want to be with. I assumed I would never marry a Mormon guy, actually. Lo and behold I wound up married to a wicked smart Mormon guy who thinks it's pretty cool that I'm a lawyer.

We plan on raising super smarty-pants kids and teaching them to shoot for all of their goals (a la Plan Kickass).

lilcis said... [reply]

aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!! So annoying. My problem with dating was that I felt like all the guys in my ward were refusing to meet their full potential. As in, they were still living at home, still in school, with no clear purpose or direction, in their late 20's. And here I was, with a degree, job, health benefits, and an apartment . . . why WOULD I want to date them? I feel like men (boys)in the church are getting lazier, and women are realizing that they can't wait around for Mr. Right to make all their dreams come true. And that it takes a strong woman nowadays to help a man reach his full potential. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of men out there who have their acts together. But I feel like, in general, they're the guys who got married at 21 right off their mission, and had their wife to help guide them along the path. I got married at 29 to a wonderful man, with a degree and a job. I feel very lucky. But it takes two of us working to be able to afford living here, and owning a house, and we haven't yet figured out how to work kids into that equation. Yes, I would have loved to have gotten married earlier, start having kids right away and be further along that path at this stage in my life. But that didn't happen for me, and it doesn't happen for a lot of women these days. But I have a lot more respect for women who make the best out of Plan B, rather than sitting around wishing for Plan A to come true. AAAAAAHHHHHH!

goddessdivine said... [reply]

Whoa boy. So much to criticize, so little time. This is one of my "hot topics".

Being the brat that I am, I'd probably look up this guy's email on the stake website. Then I'd send him a plethora of quotes from Pres Hinckley encouraging girls to "get all three if they can"--all three being mission, education, and marriage. He didn't say just one, or even two. ALL THREE would be great. Did this high councilman not get the memo that The Church doesn't want ignorant people?

Then I'd ask him to send his message to Sheri Dew, the current sister Oaks, and the current sister Nelson. Yeah; I'm sure they'd like that.

I'd also invite him to come to any singles event (esp those for the late 20s early 30s), and then report on the number and quality of men out there. He'd confirm what we single gals already know: The ratio of women to men is like 10 to 1. And the quality of those few men are not much to brag about. Sorry, but it's pretty much a known fact that there are far more great and active women in the Church than men.

Does he (and those like him) expect us girls to sit on our arses all day and wait for Mr Right? Because I believe that wouldn't be a good use of time. (Aren't there some scriptures about ceasing to be idle and gaining knowledge and all that crap?) Yeah, while I was at BYU I was fretting because my YW program made me feel like I had to be married by 22. And since I graduated w/o a hubby there must have been something wrong with me! But I didn't waste time and did a second bachelor's and a Masters. (Man I'm evil!) I echo the sentiments of lilcis: Um, why in the world would I date someone who isn't equally yoked? If I can do a few degrees, a mission, and purchase my own home by 30.....why can't guys? (Who are expected to do those things anyway!)

Ok. Must breathe....and take sedative. Told ya' this topic makes me hot!

Naomi said... [reply]

Clearly, this high councilman doesn't know that the number of UT women graduating from college is actually DECLINING, especially compared to women who live in the rest of the nation: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=12773593&nid=148

I wish we spent more time talking about how we each need to seek guidance and listen to the Spirit in order to learn our own personal Plan As and then how to develop the faith and courage to pursue those plans. If we spent more time discussing how education is a mean to improving ourselves and becoming more like Christ, we would have fewer diatribes and finger-pointing like this man's and more conversations about how it doesn't have to be education/career vs. family, but rather how education and family can be mutually inclusive.

Melanie said... [reply]

Amen Scully.

I think the bishop should have closed the meeting and corrected what the high councilman said. He has a stewardship to make sure correct doctrine is taught in his ward, and that certainly wasn't it. I also think the stake president should visit the ward or write a letter to be read aloud correcting what was said.

There are still so many wrong and damaging ideas about women and their roles in the Church's culture. A lot of the time I comment on it light-heartedly (but pointedly). But every now and again stuff like this really, really gets to me.

Giggles said... [reply]

Oy. Just, oy.

Has the high council member heard all the talks about the importance of education, among others?

Because, seriously?!?

springrose said... [reply]

This is just one more for me to say that the gospel is taught differently in Utah! I don't think I have ever heard a talk like this in any of my wards! I have heard the opposite. The men need to man up! They need to become better because the women deserve better then they are giving. I mean living at home at 30 when women are buying a home on their own! Come on!!!

Nemesis said... [reply]

I almost feel like I need to defend the high council member (almost). The bit about women really was an aside, a 20-second-long thing. But, as you rightly pointed out, it was stated from the pulpit and it's just not accurate. And it hits a nerve and places blame among women who are doing their best to live their dang lives and reach their potential and who do not NEED to be blamed for that.


Nemesis said... [reply]

Steph, well said. And yes, more Jesus-talk would be fine by me.

Anon, that is an awful story about your teacher. I can't believe you pulled out a gently-worded conversational redirect (tm) and were shot down! As for moving to UT, I wouldn't worry too much. The wards are different everywhere, although I will theorize that you are likely to find more left-leaners in the Salt Lake ones (and the highest housing prices, but maybe coming from Southern California they'll seem like a bargain!)

Word, Azucar.

Miri, I think you hit it with the idea that these connections/assumptions aren't necessarily intentional but they're still there (and still damaging).

Scully, if I could send a gift-wrapped Rupert Penry-Jones to your house right now with a thermos of soup I would do it. Happy Birthday, and amen to every word.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Kelly, I'm liking this idea of merging Plan A and Plan B. I mean, sure, there will be timing and choices and all, but that's the whole point of having the spirit and knowing that you have your own path. And, like you, knowing that you will ultimately find a person to be with who will accept & admire you as the whole fancy package that you are.

Indeed with the AHHHHHHHH, Lilcis!

Okay, Kristen, exactly. If this nice man were to attend a singles event, or speak with the bishop of a singles ward, or talk to some young single adult women, I think he'd come away with a veeerrrry different picture than, "Aww, hese poor boys can't find anyone to marry because the girls are all into school now. And Facebook."

Naomi, way to expound on the importance of having an integrated, Spirit-led plan. Well done you.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Melanie, yeah. And the thing is, I have no idea if the people in the congregation were just nodding their heads thinking, "Huh. Good to know," or if they thought, "Um, that's definitely not true of my daughter/sister/friend. I wonder who's been feeding this guy this stuff."

Indeed, Giggles.

Springrose, this is the first time I have EVER heard anyone say anything like this, which is why it was so jarring. So I really don't think it can be a Utah thing--more of a this-one-guy-who-is-being-fed-wrong-information-and-doesn't-know-it thing.

La Yen said... [reply]

This is why I generally allow my eyes to glaze over whenever a HC speaks.

I had the blissful opportunity to work in a presidency with a woman who got married in her mid-thirties, no degree, and STILL told the girls that Plan B crap. Just told them to keep waiting and killing time until Mr Right just showed up. And to make sure that she got his dinner to the table on time when he finally came around.

There was some screeching on my part...

Missy W. said... [reply]

we have plan B so when plan A gets shot to he** after we discover our husband is sleeping with the perky secretary at work we can - you know - PROVIDE FOR OUR CHILDREN. sheesh.
Maybe I would have had more blind trust in Plan A if I didn't come from a broken home myself, and know other couples who are dealing with absent, philandering or addicted husbands.


Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

When my YW look at me and say "I don't want to go on a mission. I want to get married." I am just flabbergasted. I'm the last person to say you can have it "all," but you can certainly have BOTH marriage and mission, if you want. You can have all kinds of things if you want them enough. Good grief. You have to leave yourself open to the Spirit so the right opportunities arise at the right time.

I'm reading a memoir right now about a woman who motorcycled the Mormon trail, 25 years after leaving the Church, just to get in touch with her roots. It is very cool and edgy. My biggest gripe with the book is her broad, negative stereotype of LDS men, who don't resemble the men I knew growing up, and couldn't be more different than my husband or sons. And then, you go to church and hear a talk like this, and all of those pre-conceptions about the Church rise up and slap you right in the face.

Oh, and PLEASE don't change your worldview. :)

Glad to see you blogging--I sent an email to Desmama yesterday asking if everything was all right. Because, you know, it is totally my business.

Suedles said... [reply]

UGH! OUR priorities are wrong??? Anger in my heart. What about the guys who are holed up in their apartments playing Halo for 102019870654 hours straight? And they can't get a date?? Hmmm, mystery.

Jinxie said... [reply]

So many good comments already here, so I'm just going to add another "Word."

Also, I'm huge fan of Plan Kickass! I plan to have a kickass life no matter what!

Jules said... [reply]

Yes. Women are the cause of all of the problems. We need to go back to the good old days before they wore pants.


"Over-education leads to ugliness, premature aging, and beard growth."

Please. Isn't education and accomplishment a good thing? How is this a bigger problem than addictions, laziness, infidelity, and several other issues that plague our society right now?

This is what gets me: I realize that this high councilman has the best of intentions. He, like so many people in the church, wants to help out that poor, troubled group known as the single adults. And, while these people have their hearts in the right place (kind of), their efforts can be counter-productive. Do they not realize that most single adults in the church, especially women, are painfully aware of their single status? Do they not realize that most single adults are doing everything they can to live the gospel? Do they not realize how frustrating it is to feel like all of your righteous efforts are seemingly null and void, merely because you haven't found a suitable companion? Maybe if these well-meaning high councilmen and others in authoritative positions would stop putting pressure on singles and leave us alone, we wouldn't develop complexes about our singlehoodliness.

Sorry. Long comment. I just wish these people would stick to teaching THE GOSPEL, since that is the solution to every problem. I don't care if women are career-driven and men are spending a lot of time on computers. As long as these people are living the gospel, these issues won't become too problematic.

Oh. And I miss President Hinckley. Here's a lovely talk from him, to all those people who happen to be single.


Spitfire said... [reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spitfire said... [reply]

You wanna hear something funny? I got set apart as a sunday school teacher a couple weeks ago and, although the dating scene has been really stressful and busy, the only direction given aside from fulfilling my calling was to be dedicated/continue to put my energy into my work and career. And it was emphasized more than once. Pretty interesting, huh? I think the other guy that was there was also surprised as he has asked me out a couple times in the recent past. Ha!

Heidi said... [reply]

The new mission president got up in our stake conference! and told the following warm-up story (I'm assuming it was meant to be a warm-up, although it left me all chilly inside.): "When I go around to talk to young men and young women, I always tell the young women that if they want to have a happy marriage they should learn what their husband's wants them to cook the most and cook it at least once a week." That was it.

No follow-up, "and then I tell the young men that they should find out how much their wife wants them to make every week and they better make damn well sure they fulfill their part of the bargain so that their wives can be happy."

Or better yet, why didn't he just say, "If/When all you young men and young women get married, why don't you make an effort to do something every week to show your spouse you love him/her."


emandtrev said... [reply]

Oh. No.

This makes me think (probably not for the first time) that we need a "She's Just Not Into You--the LDS Version." Or maybe that'd just be mean. Argh.

I'm still kind of hung up on the mention of gelato. Hee!

N.F. said... [reply]

And men like the ones mentioned here are why I will NEVER get married.


Makes me ill.

Why do I even bother to try and still keep hope?


Fancy Day said... [reply]

I have to join the echoes of amens to Scully's comments. I am totally a spinster because of my radical world views and tremendous career ambitions ;)

I just finished reading Thank Heaven Fasting about spinsters in Edwardian Britain who only have Plan A as an option which includes this gem:

"I suppose you were never sent to school either, and you live at home, and have nothing to to... and if you were forced to earn your living tomorrow, you'd have to starve."

I remain firmly on Plan Gelato!

Mrs. Clark said... [reply]

I have noticed that when I attend the ward my dad lives in, in Sandy, Utah (he's not a member--long story) the SS classes seem to take a much more political angle (and the angle is conservative) than in my ward here in suburban DC.

Though I have one story for you:

Years ago, a brother gave what I considered a very sexist talk. He said, "Whether you turn out having a nest egg or a rotten egg depends on the chick you marry." I was a young married with babies and I was mildly offended.

23 years later, I realize he was right, as my husband and I have watched friends' lives thrive or founder. The comment goes both ways: only change "chick" to "rooster."

My point is, don't ever settle for second best just to be married. Stay engaged in a good cause, active in the gospel, and seek the Spirit for guidance. Only you have to answer to the Lord for your actions. (Hope that wasn't too preachy.)

Thank you, Stephanie--we should all be living plan kickass!

Krystal said... [reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krystal said... [reply]

I love your blog! I've been secretly following you for awhile now, and this post was just too fantastic not to respond. Thank goodness we can have Plan Kick Trash while we wait for those *poor return missionaries* to grow a pair and date a lady with substance and you know important things, like a testimony and an education!

The Atomic Mom said... [reply]

Ok....I am so glad I do not live in Utah anymore. Seriously, it's crazy where I live, but not that crazy! Someone remind the HC that it was Brigham Young that wanted the women edu-ma-cated, and that for some of us, who married as spinsters education/career saved us from begging in the street. Thank you.

Nells-Bells said... [reply]

wow. w-o-w. such a great reminder that people are people and even though they have totally missed the mark, the gospel is still perfect. i don't think that dumb people only reside in utah either...i have met weird members all over the globe. so i don't think the emphasis of these comments to be placed on the fact they were said in utah. i'm sure stupid stuff like this gets said from pulpits all over the world.

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