Category Archives: working mothers

Can women with kids serve as temple workers? Not at my temple! Help?

Lots of mail this week about men, and women, and callings—but this writer stood out as someone who could benefit from a group perspective.

I am a faithful member of the church in the Washington, DC area. My husband and I have served as temple workers in the DC temple for the past two years. I recently learned that women temple workers are not permitted to continue working at the temple after they have children. This rule does not apply to men.  As you can imagine, I was horrified.  I could understand if couples were not allowed to continue working in the temple after they have children, but to single out women feels discriminatory and like it’s lessening the importance of fathers in the home.

My husband and I do not live a traditional marriage and, though we understand and acknowledge the Proclamation to the Family, we do not subscribe to the idea of “roles.” We both observe the work that needs to be done and we do it.

How women can reconcile their internal angst (for lack of a better word) against this unfair policy? I have been able to come to terms with many aspects of the unequal gender roles within our church, but I cannot seem to move on from this. We allow women to be Relief Society presidents, which takes 100% of any free time a woman may have, but she can’t spend twice a month serving in the Lord’s house for several hours.  

You know, dear DC friend, your note reminds me of a project undertaken by the mighty women (and men) of Feminist Mormon Housewives earlier this year.  It all began when one FMH blogger reported that a temple worker at her local temple had barred menstruating young women from participating in baptisms for the dead.

Good-thinking Mormon readers across the bloggernacle thought this was an unnecessary restriction that sent a wrong (and potentially shaming and deterring) message to young women.  It also seemed to suggest a negative view of menstruation that has no foundation in Mormon theology.  And so in a spirit of “cheerful Mormon helpfulness,” they developed a spreadsheet to gather information from across the country on whether the policy was in fact a POLICY (ominous clouds, thunderous music) straight from SLC or just a “policy” cooked up by rogue volunteers with authority issues.

What the crowdsourced research found was that of 68 LDS temples surveyed, 14 said “no baptisms during menstruation,” 15 said baptism with a tampon only, and 28 said no restrictions at all.

And with this data, it was then possible to elicit from Church HQ a statement that the policy was in fact not a POLICY but a “policy” cooked up by rogue volunteers. And poof!  The “policy” is gone.

I’m wondering if what you’re seeing at the DC temple is a POLICY or a “policy”?  Of course you are right that these kind of stances suggest that fatherhood is less serious a responsibility than motherhood—which is not at all how it is lived in LDS families like yours (or mine).  And of course stances like these make you all ragy and “angsty” in that they remind you of other gender imbalances in the Church.

But I wonder if there’s not room to address this and myriad other things that rub us the wrong way in the spirit of “cheerful Mormon helpfulness” that the brave crowdsourcing researchers at FMH modeled for us all.  After all, the real issue is that you love those peaceful hours working in the temple and you want to continue to help!

Readers, can you advise this week’s writer on steps she might take to address this issue?  Does anyone else’s temple have a policy like this?  And is it truly a POLICY or may it be yet another “policy” conceived and enforced by people who tend to get a particular charge out of strongly delineated gender roles and strict “policies” in general?

(And a note, dear readers.  Traffic has grown lately, but with it so has judginess and meanness from all points on the orthodoxy spectrum—ex-Mormons to TBMs.  And it makes me pine for the gentler, kinder days when it was just me and a self-selected crew of seekers speaking as gently, thoughtfully, and truthfully to perfect strangers as they would to someone they really, really loved.  So you know what?  I’m bringing the old days back, through a bigger dose of moderation.  Comment away—bring all your wisdom and love and humor.  Check the rest at the door.)

Follow @askmormongirl on Twitter, or send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com

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Ask Mormon Girl: Is Mitt Romney a closet male chauvinist? How do Mormon men really view women?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

I was reading an article about Romney and Mormon feminism, and it struck me that even though Romney stuck up somewhat for the Mormon feminist publication Exponent II in 1980s – 1990s Boston, he still behaved like a Mormon man “keeping control” over the women in his ward (not sure how else to word it). Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, I’ve read that he had a female lieutenant governor and his cabinet was almost 50% female (and they weren’t concentrated in “feminine” offices).

 I guess I’m just confused by the “cognitive leap” that powerful Mormon men make between their views of women’s roles in the Church and the reality of women’s roles outside the Church.  I’m tempted to see these men secretly thinking that in a “perfect world,” all women would be at home raising kids while they’re husbands are running the world — and if these men gained enough power, they’d try to shape the world in that direction.  Am I wrong — are some Mormon men secretly questioning the Proclamation on the Family?

AP

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No one at work knows that I’m Mormon. Is it time to come out of the closet?

Dear AMG:

I am a convert of 14 years. But I still have a hard time identifying myself as a Mormon in public. I started my current job in August and I haven’t “come out” yet as a Mormon, partly because I work in a field where revealing my religion would provoke a lot of discussion I’d like to avoid. But I also am proud to be a Mormon and want to be a full member-missionary. Advice?

SC

Dear SC:

It never fails to amuse me: the reaction I get when folks learn that I’m Mormon. The polite pause. The raise of the eyebrow. The cock of the head. The subaudible gasp. I can see Big-Love-Warren-Jeffs-Proposition-8-Mitt-Romney-Donnie-and-Marie-Osmond-Glenn-Beck flashing before their eyes. And, then, the puzzled looks as they try to reconcile all that against me, the liberal feminist college professor who (it’s true) has been heard to use salty language sometimes. Even when wearing her “I LOVE JIMMER” wristband.

Ah, Mormonism. One of the last exotic identities in America. And one that many of us still feel obliged to closet from time to time. Of course you’re worried about the “discussion” a revelation of your Mormon identity would “provoke.” Thanks to popular culture, saying the word “Mormon” instantly conjures up a range of sensationalistic (and oddly suggestive) questions about polygamy and temple garments. Who wants their coworkers speculating on and discussing their underwear? Mormonism also provokes a set of political associations, and I sense you may be just as concerned that your coworkers will automatically associate you with our culture’s most conservative voices or stances (present or past), especially on deeply personal issues like LGBT equality. Who wants to put their co-workers on the defensive?

Alas, at the end of the day, we have no control what others think of us, and the truth is that what others think of us is actually less important than how we make people feel. If you’ve telegraphed through your everyday behavior that you’re a gracious, respectful, and open human being, folks will be less afraid to follow-up with questions that will help them resolve their own concerns and questions.

I think the answer to your question depends in large part on the nature of your workplace. As a college professor in a liberal arts field, I work in a place where being “out” about your identity is a generally accepted part of the professional culture. But other workplaces have different social norms. So my best advice to you is to do a little workplace anthropology: observe the most effective and dignified way that social information is communicated through your office, then develop a strategy for gradually outing yourself. Maybe you hop up on your desk like Norma Rae and hold up a big sign saying “MORMON.” Maybe you find a way to drop a hint to the workplace-gossip-with-a-heart-of-gold and let him or her do the talking for you. Maybe you borrow my I LOVE JIMMER wristband (I have an extra!) and wear it to work. Maybe you let someone catch you reading the “Ask Mormon Girl” column on your iPhone. Or maybe you acquire some subtly Mormon-rific office decoration: perhaps a lovely beehive-themed folk art tzotchke you picked up in Salt Lake City, and put it in a prominent (but not too prominent) place on your desk.

However you go about it, Sister SC, get on with it soon, because whatever other people think about Mormonism, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and lugging around a secret identity can be a real drag, especially if its something that brings a lot of joy to your life. Turn up the Donna Summer “I’m Coming Out,” and get ready to shout “Yup, I’m a Mo,” even if it’s in your own quiet way.

Right, readers? Or wrong? Are you out about your Mormonism at home, at work, at play? What have your experiences been with faith in the workplace? What advice do you have for SC? Send your queries to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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I’m a stay at home mom with professional dreams and daycare guilt. Is it possible to strike a balance?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl,

I’m a Mormon woman in my early thirties with two young children. Right now I stay home with them (they aren’t yet school age) but I’ve been wanting to pursue a profession. It’s important to me that my kids see me taking myself seriously–pursuing education, goals, etc. The thing is, though, I have so much mother-guilt associated with all things daycare. I don’t know a lot of working Mormon moms. How do you find the balance between professional life and family life (and guilt for having a professional life in the first place)??

Thanks,

Aspiring
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