Tuesday, October 23

Complementary, Not Competition

complementary: describes an addition that produces completeness or perfection in something

One of my favorite talks from this month's General Conference was Elder Christofferson's address in the semi-annual Priesthood meeting for men.

"Brethren, much has been said and written in recent years about the challenges of men and boys. A sampling of book titles, for example, includes Why There Are No Good Men Left,The Demise of Guys,The End of Men, Why Boys Fail, and Manning Up. Interestingly, most of these seem to have been written by women. In any case, a common thread running through these analyses is that in many societies today men and boys get conflicting and demeaning signals about their roles and value in society."
"The author of Manning Up characterized it this way: “It’s been an almost universal rule of civilization that whereas girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess, or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors of women and children; this was always their primary social role. Today, however, with women moving ahead in an advanced economy, provider husbands and fathers are now optional, and the character qualities men had needed to play their role—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete and even a little embarrassing.”1
"In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those who denigrate men and their contributions. They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female—that one must dominate the other, and now it’s the women’s turn. Some argue that a career is everything and marriage and children should be entirely optional—therefore, why do we need men?2 In too many Hollywood films, TV and cable shows, and even commercials, men are portrayed as incompetent, immature, or self-absorbed. This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect.
". . . Brethren, it cannot be this way with us. As men of the priesthood, we have an essential role to play in society, at home, and in the Church. But we must be men that women can trust, that children can trust, and that God can trust. In the Church and kingdom of God in these latter days, we cannot afford to have boys and men who are drifting. We cannot afford young men who lack self-discipline and live only to be entertained. We cannot afford young adult men who are going nowhere in life, who are not serious about forming families and making a real contribution in this world. We cannot afford husbands and fathers who fail to provide spiritual leadership in the home. We cannot afford to have those who exercise the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God, waste their strength in pornography or spend their lives in cyberspace (ironically being of the world, while not being in the world).
"Brethren, we have work to do."
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this call to duty and can't get it out of my head! But I don't feel like it was just to the men of the church. I felt I needed to live up to this as well in my support! 
I am raising three sons so far. I am raising a daughter that I hope will find a worthy young man to marry some day. I can be a more loyal wife, supporting my wonderful husband as he strives to answer this call. I can support the men and boys of my family and community. There is just as much we women can and should do!
My favorite class at BYU was The International Political Economy of Women and I'm pretty sure I've written about it here before. We examined the hardest things life has thrown at women - unrighteous patriarchy; armed conflict; slavery; women and the priesthood; lack of access to life, health care, property, education, and so forth. We looked at the politics of breast feeding - fascinating! I saw raw emotion from my classmates as we sought to understand hard things they've felt and witnessed. I just found the syllabi online and it speaks for itself. 
The International Political Economy of Women - Political Science 472
  • To understand the roles women play in world society as producers, reproducers, agents of cultural continuity and change, and to render women "visible" in international and national affairs.
  • To explore in greater depth women's choices about education, family, and work in the developing world.
  • To investigate transnational issues directly concerning women's lives, and the objectification and subordination of women that often results.
  • To discuss the dynamics of change in women's lives and in their societies, including the dynamics of religious beliefs, and to learn about programs for change that already exist. 

    This course required the most varied reading and study of any I have ever taken, but as my roommates can attest, I loved every minute of it! I felt so empowered by this class and how to move past feeling embittered by issues I found unfair and confusing. I learned how to see hard issues through the lense of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Coming to understand things in this way has given me peace as a woman of faith, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I hope we can all support the goodness and righteous aspirations of our men and boys without feeling threatened or envious. 

    Men and women aren't in competition, we are complementary: two halves that with the Lord's help can make a perfect whole. They need us as much as we need them! And the world needs us standing together now more than ever!