Monday, November 12, 2012

Who We Are!

We have had several requests to post a bit about ourselves! 
For the next week we will be posting a little about us and our experiences.
And I get to go first, enjoy. ~ Kyra
Please comment - what experiences/events/comments have made you who you are!

Hi All, 

It has already been an amazing experience getting to know you and read your comments, ideas and thoughts on the topics we have touched on. I am so excited to get to delve deeper into topics relating to women as they are near and dear to my heart. 

I come from a very unique family, I am the oldest of five- four girls and one boy. I have a father who is secretly superman and a mother who is wonder-woman (no secret about that one). We were raised being told we could do anything and be anything we wanted to be, and more importantly, we were expected to be those things. Therefore, it was shocking to me to be told at 17, after finding my new co-workers open check in the bathroom, that the reason I was still making minimum wage after a year and he (who was hired two months ago) was making 1.50 dollar more than me an hour was because I was a girl. In fact, the manager on duty continued and said it was something I was going to have to face- women make less then men. I was flabbergasted. It was that night that I understood why there are feminists and why I was one of them. 

Sorry, the more recent family picture was on the day of our wedding 

Since then my interest in women’s studies has become deeply rooted at the very core of my soul. I have been blessed to travel to several different countries on multiple continents and have been deeply saddened by the situation of my sisters abroad (as well as at home- we aren't a perfect society by any means). I have also seen the amazing, fantastic power that comes when women understand their true, divine potential and unite for a common cause- nothing could stand in their way.  It is this knowledge of the devastating reality of women around the globe and the strength that they wield that drives me onward.

And I have to admit, I am a bit of a history junky. I have fallen in love with the history of the LDS church, particularly the quiet often untold stories of the women who were actively involved.  As I have researched topics and individuals I have a far greater respect and love for my sisters of Zion. I am so excited to introduce them to you- for we truly are their progeny. 

It is my hope that together we can explore what it means to be a woman in the world today, a woman of faith and of hope and understanding. I know that it is only together, united that we can change the world.

Can't wait to hear from you!

Daily Quote

November 12, 2012: "Danger has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a pen and wrote. Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies." - Nawal El Saadawi 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gender Roles and Victim Blaming

Our world is operated by gender roles and each society values different gender roles.  These gender roles are a way that society has organized specific characteristics of the sexes in order to function. However, as most of us would agree these gender roles may not always be a positive thing for women and also men. I hope that this blog post will be more of a discussion.  I want to share some research information and then have an open discussion about how we can go about teaching benevolent sexism and traditional gender roles in an appropriate manner.

Victim blaming became a passionate subject for me after this past spring when my husband and I had the opportunity to help a friend plan a Take Back the Night event.  She planned this event in regards to a recent rape that occurred on the Provo River Trail.  After this attack, the young woman who was out running received a lot of blame for the attack. After this even  I thought a lot of how gender roles and benevolent sexism contribute to victim blaming. I was reminded of a correlation study that a professor, whom I have had the opportunity to do a lot of work with, conducted.  I want to share her findings and help lead our discussion.

 Let me explain her research.  Her study focused on how strength of benevolent sexism, hostile sexism, and gender role tradionality contribute to the level that a rape victim either of a stranger scenario or date-rape situation influence the victim being blamed and the rapist being excused for the behavior.  In this research, hostile sexism was defined as negative and antipathetic attitudes toward women that are typically thought to comprise gender-based prejudices.  Benevolent sexism was defined as positive and sympathetic attitudes toward women that are not typically thought of as necessarily sexist. For example, opening the door for a woman or pulling her chair out for her at the dinner table would be part of benevolent sexism.  There were 126 participants that ranged from ages 18-26. All participants were attending a university in the Rocky Mountain region and all were undergraduate students. 58 were women and 60 were men. The participants were randomly assigned to read a scenario that focused on a date-rape situation or a stranger-rape situation.  After they read the survey they were asked to complete the Rape Supportive Attribution Scale, the Sex-Role Stereotypical Victim Blame Attribution Scale, the Excuse Rapist Scale, the Sex-Role Egalitarianism Scale, the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, and a demographic survey.  What she found was that the date-rape scenario was minimized in seriousness compared to the stranger-rape scenario. They found that hostile sexism and benevolent sexism were positively correlated. Those who scored high on the benevolent sexism test and gender role traditionaltiy were more likely to blame the victim in a date-rape situation.  However, in a stranger-rape scenario they almost always blamed the rapist.  Those who scored high on hostile sexism tended to blame the victim in both scenarios.

“Abrams, Viki, Masser, and Bohner (2003) found that ambivalent sexism, particularly benevolent sexism, was a significant moderator of negative attitudes toward acquaintance rape victim...for benevolent sexists to protect women, women need to be seen as sexually pure and innocent. Therefore, if a woman violates benevolent sexists’ expectations (being raped by her date when she is supposed to be sexually pure), she no longer deserves to be protected. Abrams
et al. (2003) proposed that benevolent sexism can explain the phenomenon of victim blame in the case of acquaintance rape.” (Yamawaki, 2007). 
From this quote, she found that for those who scored high on benevolent sexism, once a woman violates the standards for being “sexually pure” she no longer deserves protection or respect.  Often times we hear,” Well, she shouldn’t have worn that, she should not have been at his place that time of night, she shouldn’t have gone alone.” These statements unfortunately are still a problem in our society. 

Does anyone else find her findings interesting or even alarming? What particularly sticks out to me is that almost half of the participants were women.  Some of these women still felt that the women in the acquaintance-rape scenario were the one to be blames for what happened. Why would this be? Here is where the questions for the discussion come to play.  We as a society, LDS or not, encourage our children, especially our boys, to be gentlemen. We encourage them to open the door for women, pull out the chair at the dinner table for her, ect. Now, I will be the first one to admit that I love it when my husband opens the door for me and I do not want to ignore teaching our son how to be a gentleman.  But how and what ideas or experiences do you have in teaching children these gender roles in a manner that they do not end up blaming a rape victim of an acquaintance scenario in the future? What do these findings of her research mean for us?   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daily Quote

November 7, 2012: "Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, 'She doesn't have what it takes.' They will say, 'Women don't have what it takes.'" - Clare Boothe Luce 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Remember Our Suffrage

In honor of the American elections today, we thought we'd pass this along for your viewing pleasure. Regardless of who you vote for today, vote. If at all possible, make the effort to vote. Men and women around the world have given their lives for the right to vote, and many still do not have that right.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Daily Quote

October 31, 2012:
"I am a Woman
Phenomenal Woman,
that's me."
- Maya Angelou 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Savior: The Greatest Champion of Womanhood

I stumbled upon this phenomenal talk entitled “Here I am, Send Me” given by Elder M. Russell Ballard at BYU in March 2001. In it, Elder Ballard quoted Elder James E. Talmage who stated “the world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ”[1]. Why is it important to recognize the Savior as not only a defender of women, but the greatest?  I believe it is significant because it tells us that Christ is no respecter of persons, it indicates that we will receive equal divine attention regardless of gender, and it shows that within Christ’s church there is to be no hierarchy or degrading of another, especially based on sex.  We know from the restoration of the gospel that the pre-mortal and mortal natures of men and women were specified by the Lord himself, and it is not within “His character to diminish the roles and responsibilities of any of His children[2].”

Elder Ballard substantiates Elder Talmage’s pronouncement by stating “The first time the Lord acknowledges Himself to be the Christ, it was to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He taught her about living water and proclaimed, simply, “I… am He” (John 4:26). And it was Martha to whom He proclaimed: “I am the resurrection, and the life… And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). It is also interesting to note, as Elder Ballard did, that “during His greatest agony as He hung on the cross, the Savor reached out to one person—His mother” and sought out John the Beloved to care for her (John 19:16-17)[3]

I think it pertinent to include comments by Jolene Edmunds Rockwood into this discussion.  Rockwood states that many women were numbered among Christ’s closest associates, including: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and others (Luke 8:1-3). She stated that “Christ deliberately paired men-women examples in his teachings, as if to be sure that women also saw his teachings as relevant.”[4] For example, Christ taught to the male shepherd the importance of one soul by asking which of them would not leave their ninety and nine in search of the one and asked the women in the audience if one of them had lost a coin would they not search the whole house until it is found and rejoice in the finding. It is interesting to note that these two parables are told sequentially in the text.  There are many more examples: Christ heals the centurion’s servant and immediately afterwards raises the widow’s son. He equates the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed which a male farmer would have planted in his garden and to some leaven which a woman would have put into her dough. The examples continue throughout the synoptic gospels. The following is a brief outline of some of the most vivid examples[5]:

Luke 10:29-37: Christ teaches a man (Good Samaritan parable) à Luke10: 38-42: Christ teaches a woman (Mary and Martha to “choose the better part”).
Luke 13:10-16: Jesus heals first a woman on the Sabbath à Luke 14:2-6: Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath
Luke 17:35: One man shall be taken from two who are in the field à Luke 17:36: One woman shall be taken from two who are grinding.
Mark 7: 24-30: Christ heals a Gentile’s daughter à Mark 7: 31-37: Christ heals a deaf man
Matthew 9: 20-22, 23-26, and 27-34: Christ heals a woman, raises a girl from the dead and then heals two blind men.

Evidence of Christ's attention and love toward the female sex is not solely found in the New Testament among Christ’s mortal ministry but present in the Book of Mormon in Jacob. In which, Jacob conveys revelation from the Lord who talks of the wickedness and the abominations of the Nephites (Jacob’s people) and says ultimately they will be destroyed and their enemies (the Lamanites) would remain because the Nephites had broken the hearts of their wives and lost the confidence of their children (Jacob 2:35). The Lord continues by saying that He had heard the prayers of the women and it was because of them that the Lord would visit them with a sore curse, and ultimately destruction (Jacob 2:33).

We know from these examples that Christian doctrine made woman full participants in conversation, miracles and in Christ’s gospel. With this fundamental understanding it is clear that we, as Latter-day Saints, originated from gender equality taught and expressed by the Savior.

I echo Elder Ballard when he stated “of this you may be certain: The Lord especially loves righteous women.”

[1] Jesus the Christ. 1956. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. p 475.
[2] M. Russell Ballard. 13 March 2001. Here Am I, Send Me. BYU Speeches.
[3] M. Russell Ballard. 13 March 2001. Here Am I, Send Me. BYU Speeches.
[4] Sisters in Spirit ed. Maureen Beecher and Lavina Anderson. University of Illinois Press:1987, 6.
[5] Sisters in Spirit ed. Maureen Beecher and Lavina Anderson. University of Illinois Press:1987, 30-31 (footnote no. 25).