A modest proposal

September 8, 2007 | 103 comments
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In order to prevent inadvertent exposure of nursing mothers’ breasts during church meetings to the bishopric, or to the deacons passing the sacrament — and the related possibility of those men having bad thoughts — scarves or blankets should definitely be used to conceal the nursing from male eyes.

Thus, effective immediately, all deacons and bishopric members will wear scarves or blankets over their heads.

Of course, this will inconvenience a few people here and there. Deacons might sometimes run into each other, or the side of a pew, or perhaps a congregation member. Water will sometimes be spilled. Bishops will be less able to watch ward members from the stand.

However, these are small sacrifices to make. The prevention of bad thoughts is of far more import than a deacon’s bruised thigh, or a bishop’s difficulty in watching ward members. We must all work together to keep men’s eyes off of women’s bodies. And how better to do so, really, than by placing blankets over men’s heads?

I hope you can all join me in supporting this proposal.

103 Responses to A modest proposal

  1. Costanza on September 8, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Can we expand that to include men in general rather than just the bishopric or others in front of the congreagtion? It would be much easier to sleep, eat, or read during sacrament meeting if I could wear a blanket over my head.

  2. Bill on September 8, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Sort of a reverse hijab?

  3. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Brilliant, Kaimi.

    Have you spoken with Paul about this proposal? Oh, I forgot – doctrinal vs. cultural, doctrinal vs. cultural, doctrinal vs. cultural. OK; got it. (*wink*)

  4. Jim Cobabe on September 8, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Kaimi, your proposal is only a partial solution. What is warranted is a measure that will prevent this untoward and unseemly mingling of sexes in the first place.

    Obviously, men and women need more strictly enforced segregation within our church meetings and meeting places. Why not have the men attend on days that alternate with the women’s meetings? That way we could avoid any inappropriate or unpleasant “looking”.

  5. queuno on September 8, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    I agree with Jim, with one tiny modification. Women should be allowed to sit in the chapel, with only the essential priesthood present. Other priesthood holders will sit in the primary and RS rooms with their noisy children, watching the proceedings of the ward or the proceedings of the No Fun League Stake Conference on TV.

  6. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Mr. Chairman, our dear brethren will be sacrificing their personal comfort (the precious bald heads of the bishopric and chubby cheeks of the deacons may sweat beneath those scarves) in exchange for this protection to their personal purity. Some may say that the inevitable increase in spirituality is reward enough, but no — NO, I say! — our precious brethren must be allowed to increase their personal comfort in other ways, in exchange for what they lose under those scarves..

    Therefore, I propose this amendment to your fine proposal:

    All deacons and bishopric members (alternatively, ALL brethren, should your proposal be extended as requested by Costanza) shall be requested — nay, REQUIRED — to scratch their crotches, pass gas, burp, belch, haaarrrrkkk, and spit, at will, during church services. Handkerchiefs shall be discouraged. Toenail clipping during the passing of the Sacrament is optional, but in no case shall men be required to control the flight of their clippings. Belts must be loosened, ties are banned, and in warm weather bare feet are welcomed. When men find it inconvenient, for whatever reason, to leave the chapel to attend to other biological functions — well, need I say it? — they shall be urged to attend to their private acts right there, in full view of the congregation.

    This proposed amendment is made because I HONOR AND SUPPORT MANHOOD!!! We constantly preach the value of manhood and the need to sustain priesthood and fatherhood, yet we make all too few gestures in practical support of that honor. My amendment will aid in correcting that wrong.

  7. Russell Arben Fox on September 8, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    “Scratch their crotches, pass gas, burp, belch, haaarrrrkkk, and spit, at will, during church services.”

    I’m obviously a lousy excuse for a male, but I’ll ask it anyway: what the hell is haaarrrrkkking?

  8. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    what the hell is haaarrrrkkking?

    That loud clearing of the sinuses and throat, while simultaneously collecting the resulting matter into a bolus suitable for spitting.

  9. Matt W. on September 8, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Hi I’m Kaimi, I have no idea what the diference between american culture and lds culture.

    How’s that for a snarky reply to a snarky post?

  10. Starfoxy on September 8, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    This definition of ‘haaarrrrkking’ makes “In our lovely deseret” have a very different (though possibly more accurate) meaning.

  11. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Well, Starfoxy, if anybody is going to haaarrrrkkken unto the Lord, it might as well be our dear brethren.

  12. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Oh, Ardis, I’m laughing so hard I might have to get up and take care of a biological function – since my wife hasn’t approved of your proposal for our home.

  13. Julie M. Smith on September 8, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    I’m sick and tired of liberals trying to soft-path. The only real solution is to gouge their eyes out.

  14. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Ray, you must relearn the difference between the public and private spheres, the differing expectations of public decorum and private liberties. The behavior required for Sacrament meeting is of course more stringent than that found in private homes, and your wife should NOT require you to take care of biological functions in the living room.

    I understand your confusion and the blurring of the line between public and private. Refresher course, in addition to my proposed amendment:

    Underwear used to be mandatory in public; it must now be omitted — especially when you wear your shortest skirts, Ray.

    Public telephones used to be located in private booths; it is now required that you discuss your most personal business — preferably in a loud voice — whenever you are in public. You get extra points for doing so in theaters, restaurants, and buses.

    Making a fool of oneself before others used to be reserved for gatherings of friends, or your coworkers. Now we have public blogs, where exposing one’s foolishness and lack of concern for social behavior is mandatory.

    Got it?

  15. Mark B. on September 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    You know how they built the Salt Lake Temple with spaces for typewriters and openings for computer network cables, even though they didn’t exist when the building went up? [I made up the part about the spaces for cables, but I actually heard the first part, probably in Seminary.]

    Well, I now understand why some deacons pass the sacrament with their left arms stuck awkwardly up in the small of their backs. I used to think it was so their quorum advisers could grab them quickly and wrestle them quickly to the ground if they suddenly decided to revolt, revolting little buggers that they are.

    But, it’s all clear now. Those hands have been there all these years to hold the scarves and blankets that we only now have become enlightened enough to start using.

  16. Silus Grok on September 8, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    ( I\’ve always pictured it written \”horking\” or \”hÃ¥rking\”… )

  17. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Maybe so, Silus Grok, maybe so. I have a Utah accent.

  18. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Sorry, Silus, but it always sounded like “grok” to me.

  19. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Ardis, those not from or having lived in Utah won’t get the accent reference, but I about choked on that one, as well, since SF and AF were rivals of ours in high school.

  20. Eve on September 8, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Yeah, Kaimi, now you think this is the solution to all of your problems. But just wait until the day you have to sit down and explain to little Indigo that wearing blankets on one’s head is a very, very special form of attire that–for reasons we don’t fully understand–Heavenly Father has reserved to boys and men.

    “Making a fool of oneself before others used to be reserved for gatherings of friends, or your coworkers. Now we have public blogs, where exposing one’s foolishness and lack of concern for social behavior is mandatory.”

    And to think I’ve wasted all this time worried about my blogging decorum! What a relief to learn that folly is actually required.

  21. Kaimi Wenger on September 8, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    Spoken just like a woman, Eve. Err, that is, in my opinion. :P

    Goodness, it’s hard to type with this dang blanket over my head.

    Ardis,

    I’ll give my, err, blanket approval to all of your amendments. :)

  22. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    I’ll give my, err, blanket approval to all of your amendments.

    Thank you, Kaimi. You have no idea how much I respect you for this generous and open-minded acceptance. You see, I consider you to be the Rosa Parks of Priesthood Purity. If we don’t question the norms, if we blindly accept the stale traditions of the Geezer Generation (everyone past 24, I think it is now), where will we be? Without BRAVE MEN like you, who have the courage to sit down and stick your head under a blanket, and remain unmoved by all the shrill voices of those who, with such outrage, such disinterested indignation, such righteous condemnation, would insist that your proposal is absurd, why, I’m sure I have no idea what might happen. At the very least, babies would starve.

  23. Tatiana on September 8, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    (Kaimi fangirl V)

  24. Bob on September 8, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    #6: Men, this is why the women are going to win the post again: You let Ardis take notes during meetings, and then let her enter them into evidence.

  25. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Yes, Bob, but we fought valiantly for centuries to keep them from being able to take notes. I hadn’t realized how liberating burkas are until I realized that we can’t see them taking notes and naps. Bikinis would solve that problem, but only if we were able to remove our blankets – oh, crap, now we’re right back where we started.

  26. Russell Arben Fox on September 8, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    “…those who, with such outrage, such disinterested indignation, such righteous condemnation, would insist that your proposal is absurd…”

    Ok, once again Ardis has completely flummoxed me. “Disinterested indignation”? A disinterested person is a person who, strictly speaking, has no interest or involvement in a dispute; indignation is the feeling experienced by people whose interests or preferences are ignored or violated in a dispute. Consequently, I can make no sense of the phrase. But since I know Ardis is nothing if not a Highly and Eminently Sensible Woman, I am going to assume she is speaking in a special Utah Elite Counter-Feminist Code, and I am the one who is confused.

  27. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Dear Confused:

    You are confusing “disinterested” with “uninterested.” A distinterested party is one who does something simply because it is right, not because there is anything in it for her. In the case at hand, one who may become upset by Kaimi’s proposal not because she herself is denied the high status of the blanket or the privilege of public belching, but merely on principle because some other woman might feel unjustly treated, is expressing disinterested indignation.

    /s/ Interested

  28. Bill MacKinnon on September 8, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Russell, “flummoxed”indeed! That word hasn’t been used since Rex Stout recorded a 1948 office conversation between Nero Wolfe and his irreverent legman Archie Goodwin in the old brownstone on West 35th Street. Thanks for bringing that one back in such fine style.

    Ardis, do you think the nature of this discussion calls for a retailing of Brigham Young’s recitation to the Church Historian’s clerks of his dream concerning a certain outhouse incident, or is the blog not yet ready for that one, even though Ray clearly is.

  29. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Dear Confused,

    I only argue with Ardis when I want to prove the innate superiority of women.

    Sincerely,

    Every Man on the Bloggernacle

  30. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Bill, are you sure you want to try to sell BY’s recitation of a dream concerning an outhouse? (Just trying to prove that Ardis isn’t the only competent editor here.) [and, yes, I'd love to hear about an outhouse dream, but only if the less-sensitive ladies - err, women - err, estrogen carriers approve.]

  31. danithew on September 8, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Ardis for using the word “bolus” in a comment.

  32. Russell Arben Fox on September 8, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Regarding Bill’s comment on “flummoxed”:

    That word hasn’t been used since Rex Stout recorded a 1948 office conversation between Nero Wolfe and his irreverent legman Archie Goodwin in the old brownstone on West 35th Street. Thanks for bringing that one back in such fine style.

    You’re welcome, and thank you for the compliment. It is one of my greatest and longest standing goals–not as high a priority goal as raising my children right and getting to the celestial kingdom, but still, it’s pretty far up there–to reintroduce into the discourse of today the vocabulary and slang of American English, circa 1948-1964. You know, the stuff that the parents and grandparents of the baby boomers said. I want to hear my students talk about how someone dresses really “keen,” and to describe a hot automobile as “boss.” Then, and only then, will I be truly happy.

  33. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Bill, the incident to which you refer is problematic. I would like to endorse the far-sightedness of Brigham Young in his preservation of this dream for our day, but his modesty is entirely out of place in the present (and just past) discussions. Nevertheless, for the consideration of our esteemed readers, Ray in particular, I present this extract from the 17 January 1859 entry in the Historian’s Office Journal:

    The President dreamed last night that he had occasion to ease himself; he went to a privy, where he was told he had to sit across a pole and ease himself, according to Judge C.E. Sinclair’s ruling. In following the ruling of the Judge, he besmeared himself; he wanted to find some place to clean himself, but could not, for every where he went the women were looking at him.

  34. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Holy Crap! I – gasp – haven’t – gasp – laughed that hard – gasp – in a long – gasp – long – gasp – time.

  35. Russell Arben Fox on September 8, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    “…where he was told he had to sit across a pole and ease himself…he besmeared himself…for every where he went the women were looking at him.”

    Toss in a little bit of good old-fashioned Freudian psychoanalysis, and a dream like this could get you slapped with a restraining order in most states.

  36. Russell Arben Fox on September 8, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Holy Crap!

    Possibly in more ways than one.

  37. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Nifty, Ray! Save some of that swell reaction for church tomorrow.

  38. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Stop it; I’m crying – and my wife still hasn’t approved my getting up and leaving the room.

  39. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Kaimi, is this considered official doctrine or does it have to be approved by common consent – err, I mean the voice of the collective membership? I need to know if I can announce it in church tomorrow so I’m not stuck on a seat without relief. (I’m scared to disobey Ardis.)

  40. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Ardis for using the word “bolus” in a comment.

    danithew, you are welcome. This is not the first time I have been thanked for introducing new vocabulary — and new lows — to Times and Seasons. I understand my cobloggers are taking a vote right now to consider putting my comments in moderation — another first for a permablogger.

    But Kaimi started it.

  41. Jim Cobabe on September 8, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Along with formally setting the “uninterested” apart from the “disinterested”, perhaps we should observe the significant distinction between “scatology” and “eschatology”, before we all become totally and eternally flummoxed in the commodius vicus of recirculation.

  42. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    the significant distinction between “scatology” and “eschatology”,

    I surrender! Jim, you are indeed my better. This time only.

  43. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Jim, this thread has been circling the drain for some time – but I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed such a waste of space in a long time. Eternal flummoxity in a commodius vice might be the reward, but I think it just might be worth it.

  44. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Everyone grab their journals! A man beat Ardis! Jim, you are my new hero. (Just don’t tell m&m, or she will give me a swirly.)

  45. Ardis Parshall on September 8, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Ah, Ray, I’m crushed … how fast the glory fades and the crowds pass on to other amusements …

  46. Bill MacKinnon on September 8, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Ardis, yes that’s THE dream of which I was prompted to think by your essay and Ray’s revelation of his pressing but unspecific personal problem. I seem to recall, though, that there was a second section to the dream in which the President-Prophet was beseiged while thus occupied by an unidentified but hyper-aggressive lady, but I may be conflating this dream with another one.

    Russell, I was unaware of your quest to restore the English language to an earlier glory. Suggest that you may wish to consult and press into active service the Collected Works of Franklin W. Dixon, wherein the Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe, hang out with “chums,” describe their motorcycles as “machines,” and sound the alarm re approaching villains with the exclamation “Hark!” You’ll recall that in that more genteel era that cars were either “roadsters” or “touring cars” and that the latter had “curtains” that were drawn whenever villains attempted to bundle one of our heroes along the omnipresent Shore Road between the coastal communities of Bayport and Gresham. Surely the Hardy Boys were of the LDS persuasion for there was nothing but the most rigorous observance of the WoW, at least on a de facto if not ecclestiastical basis. Best of luck with your efforts, and now it’s time to join Wolfe and Theodore Horstman, the orchid nurse, up on the brownstone’s roof for a session with the plants.

  47. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Bill, was that in the classic movie “Bed of Roses”? *grin*

  48. Ray on September 8, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Good night, everyone. My wife finally gave me permission to move. I’m not sure anyone else enjoyed this quite like I did, but if the point is to indulge in one’s own emotional satisfaction at the expense of the community, I can sleep knowing I succeeded tonight.

    Thanks, Kaimi. Great post.

  49. Jack on September 8, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    When a well endowed woman breast-feeds her child during sacrament meeting, the men who are tempted to look twice should whistle or sing their favorite hymn. That way the spirit of the meeting will not be disrupted by dirty thoughts.

    Deep Thoughts by Jack

  50. danithew on September 8, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    I don’t think I’ve seen a silly thread of this caliber since a very very long time ago when Julie Smith deigned to use the word “hornk” in a comment.

    “Hornk”, “chupacabra”, “monkey stealing the peach” and “bolus” – these are the kind of inspirational words/phrases that make the Bloggernacle so special.

  51. Russell Arben Fox on September 9, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Suggest that you may wish to consult and press into active service the Collected Works of Franklin W. Dixon, wherein the Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe, hang out with “chums,” describe their motorcycles as “machines,” and sound the alarm re approaching villains with the exclamation “Hark!”

    Anyone remember the one where the boys got a motorboat from their dad as a birthday present, and they named it The Sleuth? That was a good one. Also, the one where their reliable but overweight friend Chet takes up shot-putting. Man, those cats were the BMOC, I’m telling you.

  52. Bob on September 9, 2007 at 12:42 am

    Am I the only one who noticed that Ardis left loud snoring off her list? Was that a simple oversight? Do any of you sit near her at meetings?

  53. Ardis Parshall on September 9, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Bob, I note that the high priests in my ward indulge in loud snoring even under current policies — there seemed to be no reason to include that as a concession to male comfort.

  54. mmiles on September 9, 2007 at 12:52 am

    Is the bloggernacle version of a filibuster?

  55. Kaimi Wenger on September 9, 2007 at 1:12 am

    Mmiles,

    James A Johnson, 51 Main Street
    James F Johnson, 666 Evans Way
    James T Johnson, 220 Brown Street
    Jane A Johnson, 13 Greenwood Pl.
    Janice P Johnson . . .

  56. meems on September 9, 2007 at 2:45 am

    I like your use of 666 Evans way…

  57. meems on September 9, 2007 at 2:49 am

    BTW, here I am in Saudi right now where I’m living with people (women) who are veiled and covered in black, so the idea of men wearing blankets on their heads is a very refreshing and welcome idea for me right now. Yeah – blankets… that’s the ticket…!

  58. Kathryn Lynard Soper on September 9, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Kaimi, this reminds me of when VOICE (BYU’s feminist club) posted flyers all over campus, declaring the inception of a curfew for men–They had to be in their homes by dark, and if they had to venture out, they were required to be accompanied by a woman at all times.

    The funniest part of it was that some men believed that this was for real, and threw major fits about it. Not realizing that a similar scenario had been true for women for who knows how long….

  59. Bob on September 9, 2007 at 11:04 am

    I believe the Good Book says only women need to be silent, covered up, and shave as needed, to be welcome at Church.

  60. Adam Greenwood on September 9, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    I agree that immodesty and lust isn’t really a problem these days.

    But if it is, I don’t see why men should have to suffer. If the gals don’t like me pissing on the lawn, its up to them to avert their eyes.

  61. Bob on September 9, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    #60 Wow Adam, you regained a lot of lost ground with that one!

  62. Alison Moore Smith on September 9, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Ardis, you are my hero–gender neutral.

  63. fMhlisa on September 10, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    I often wonder if the cover-them-boobs-up-now crowd is even capable of forming an argument for modest breastfeeding (which I mostly support in theory, for good manners sake, I do like people to be comfortable) without comparing the feeding of babies to defecation, urination, flatulence, or sex. Feeding a baby in public is like taking a dump/piss/fart/snog in public! I find those comparisons disturbing and yucky and rather more insight into their minds than I like to have.

    I think rational non-gross arguments exist, I’ve I’d honestly love to see them try.

  64. Kaimi Wenger on September 10, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Lisa,

    Actually, I think the two can be shown to be very similar. Here’s the rigorous logical proof:

    1. FMH often has posts about breastfeeding and modesty.
    2. FMH also often has posts about poop.
    3. Therefore, breastfeeding is just like poop!

    I can’t think of any other real link. So congratulations, Lisa — it looks like _you_ are the link. :P

  65. fMhlisa on September 10, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Oh, and Adam, as soon as I finish giggling, I promise these eyes are averted!

  66. fMhlisa on September 10, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Curse Kaimi, foiled by logic. Once again proving the dangers of too much education.

  67. fMhlisa on September 10, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Oh, and don’t forget sex. We also post about sex.

    Though, come to think of it, we’ve yet to post about flatulence.

    What’s that?

    What? . . . .

    We need to post more about flatulence?

    I’ll get right on it!

  68. Kaimi Wenger on September 10, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    We need to post more about flatulence?

    I’ll get right on it!

    Times and Seasons: Gets results.

  69. Dan S. on September 10, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Oh, yeah! We’ve finally reached flatulence on this thread. This is where I get on the bus, and where those with a weak constitution should get off. . . ;)

  70. Ardis Parshall on September 10, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    fmhLisa, several of us tried in the earlier thread, and on at least one of your threads, to make the kind of argument you ask for, but we were shouted down so quickly and so nastily that I don’t think you even recognized we *were* making the argument you ask for. I’ll try here, one last time:

    You say you “mostly support in theory, for good manners sake” the request for modest breastfeeding. That’s the argument, right there: Good manners sake. Some behaviors are public; some behaviors are private. Exposing private body parts to public view is not good manners.

    Nursing babies because babies are hungry is a necessity. That doesn’t change the fact that doing so immodestly is bad manners.

    Nursing babies wherever you happen to be is convenient. That doesn’t change the fact that doing so immodestly is bad manners.

    Nursing babies in public is legal. That doesn’t change the fact that doing so immodestly is bad manners.

    Manners may or may not be purely arbitrary, and may change over time and geography. That doesn’t change the fact that immodesty is bad manners, here and now.

    If you were driving on the freeway and your baby were hungry, would you pull off the freeway to nurse him? would you pull off the freeway to nurse him even though that meant you would miss the flight you absolutely *had* to catch? would you have planned ahead to have a bottle of breast milk ready in case he got hungry while you were on the freeway? would you take him out of his carseat and juggle him between your breast and the steering wheel to nurse him while you were driving? I submit that you, Lisa, and every other one of your caring mothers, would find some way, albeit an inconvenient one, to care for your baby without risking your life and his. If you can do that under one set of circumstances, you can do it under another. Nursing babies in sacrament meeting is convenient; it is also not strictly necessary. Nursing babies *immodestly* in sacrament meeting is absolutely unnecessary.

    You ask for an argument for modest breastfeeding that does not appeal to waste elimination. Fair enough. (By the way, the link you are looking for is not the involvement of bodily fluids; it is the recognition that many biological functions — breastfeeding as much as elimination — are private actions.)

    The people on my side of the question also have a request of you and yours: Could we have a civil discussion about modesty without being charged with trying to malnourish or starve infants? without being accused of illegalities? without being ridiculed and cursed with vile language. (ask your women friends whose comments did not appear on the blog for samples of their vulgarity, if you wish).

    We’re asking for modesty: simple good manners and consideration for the feelings of others. Not the starvation of children, not the oppression of women, not the end of truth, justice, and eternal salvation. Just modesty.

  71. ECS on September 10, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Ardis, as you say, it’s not about starving infants, it’s about encouraging and supporting mothers who are trying to do what is best for their children. Attitudes like yours directly contribute to historically low rates of breastfeeding in the U.S. today.

    One person’s campaign for “modesty” is another person’s cultural imperialism. Not all societies are as prudishly hypocritical as ours.

  72. Ardis Parshall on September 10, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    … and here we go again, with the deluge of over-the-top exaggerations directed at anybody who dares express even the slightest disagreement with you, um, “ladies.”

  73. ECS on September 10, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    LOL, Ardis. Count me in as a Boob Bully. Yay, boobs!

  74. Ardis Parshall on September 10, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    ECS, sorry, I edited my comment so as not to be quite as rude as you are. But since rudeness appeals to you, you’re welcome to the pleasure it gave.

  75. Ray on September 10, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Why do I get slapped when I say the same thing as ECS – at least the last two words? Some women are so sexist! *grin*

  76. Ray on September 10, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Just trying to return the conversation back to the wonderfully irreverent and free-flowing tone that was so fun – before the overly-serious and overly-sensitive crowd brought it crashing back down to earth.

  77. Ardis Parshall on September 10, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Well, Ray, I’ll agree with you that some women are so … so … so something I can’t post.

  78. ECS on September 10, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Stand by your snark, Ardis. Nice to meet you, too.

  79. makakona on September 10, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    ardis, do you believe it possible to discreetly nurse a baby without covering up with a blanket, apron, or whatnot? i’ve nursed three kids now for a total of four years and while i don’t cover with a blanket, i also have yet to experience a “wardrobe malfunction.” it’s quite easy to be discreet while using nothing more than your shirt and the baby’s head, but it’s been my experience that most people think “no blanket” equals immodest.

    i was fortunate enough to begin this here nursing career in hawai’i and with a ward of polynesian folk who found breastfeeding to be a perfectly natural and normal function of the human body. it wasn’t until i moved to southern california that the idea of it being inappropriate to breastfeed in public was introduced. i was shocked as four women from church, all of whom had breastfed their babies and quite recently, proclaimed nursing in the chapel to be a desecration of god’s house and of the gospel. really, i was just speechless. it had never occurred to me to pack up my 3yo and 2yo (dad works sundays) and truck to the bathroom just because the baby was hungry.

  80. Ray on September 10, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    makakona, You just expressed the concern that many of on the “just do it with modesty” side have tried to say over and over and over. I have no problem nursing in sacrament meeting; I just don’t want it done *in this particular culture* in a flaunting manner – a “this is my boob; get over it, you sexist pig” mentality. My wife also has nursed six children in church – discreetly and modestly – sometimes with a blanket, sometimes not – but always with an understanding of the sensitivities of those around her.

    What bothers me is that even such a *reasonable* stance is shouted down – as Ardis said, often in very vulgar and obscenely accusatory ways.

    (I tried to lighten things up again, but – oh, well.)

  81. makakona on September 10, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    i should probably clarify that it’s perfectly easy for ME to be discreet sans blanket. ymmv.

    ka’imi is on to something. i think most people are disturbed more by the thought or idea of breastfeeding than they are the chance of a glimpse of sliver of skin. instituting the covered head rule is easier than being the “don’t like it, don’t look” pariah.

  82. Ray on September 10, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Actually, I do have a problem nursing in SM. It’s a biological difficulty I have expressing, but I don’t want to have to share the details. (Did I just imply that I have tried? Wow; this communication thing is harder than I thought.)

  83. Ardis Parshall on September 10, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    makakona, I *do* believe it’s possible, and very frequently done. I do not, however, think it is modest to hike your shirt up over the top of your breast and leave your breast hanging there fully exposed while you get your baby into position. I do not believe it is modest when a two- or three-year-old toddles along the bench, lifts his mother’s shirt straight up and pulls her underclothing away to begin nursing, while she continues to chat with the person next to her and doesn’t seem even to notice that she is exposed. I’ve seen both.

    I believe it is something less than modest for all you nursing mothers to insist so unilaterally that you will do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, wherever you want, anyone else’s opinions be damned.

    Mostly, I think it is interesting that now that fmhLisa has threadjacked this “modest proposal” back to the free-for-all of the original thread, that you nursing mothers are flocking in so fast to repeat yourselves here. Did somebody set off a signal flare? There is the undeniable impression of sharks after chum.

  84. makakona on September 10, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    thanks for clarifying, ray. i’m never sure what exactly is being argued once people start asking for blankets to be utilized.

  85. Ray on September 10, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    All call: PLEASE, we need some more totally stupid, off-the-wall, scatological comments to restore order to the universe. The guns are blazing in a thread that was good when we were using Florescent Silly String. Silly Putty or Play Dough or Fake Vomit or anything like unto it – just no more machine guns, please.

  86. makakona on September 10, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    don’t blame lisa for my comments. vacation weekend kept me away and i only stated reading this afternoon. since comments are closed elsewhere and the thread here turned, i jumped in.

    i agree with your first paragraph, though i have trouble discerning where one scenario ends and the other begins. but as hyperaware as i am and have always been about breastfeeding, i have never, ever witnessed what you described.

  87. ECS on September 10, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Ardis, it’s nothing personal and I’m sorry if you feel attacked. I have no idea who you are, but your “modesty” concerns discourage breastfeeding and that’s bad for babies and mothers. In a family-focused Church, I wouldn’t expect to encounter such negative attitudes towards “all you nursing mothers”, but there you have it.

  88. makakona on September 10, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    if that’s your aim, ray, i’m not sure you can call it “vomit.” too proper. and if you decide to go with “puke,” please don’t spell it as my overly british mum does: puque. seriously, mom, “puque?!”

  89. Julie M. Smith on September 10, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Re #50:

    Hornk is a completely legitimate word. Dave Barry used it, so it must be true.

  90. Ray on September 10, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    puque? Wow; never seen that one. Of course, I’d never seen “besmear” either, and I thought that was brilliant.

  91. Kaimi Wenger on September 10, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Wow. Lots of comments here lately. Let’s see. I think I agree with both Ardis _and_ ECS/Lisa/etc.

    I agree with Ardis that there are situations in which exposure seems too much. For example, I sat in a room once when a very attractive, well-educated young LDS mom casually pulled open her shirt to expose both breasts, latched the baby on to one, and let the other breast simply sit out in the open, for a good twenty minutes or so. Ardis has a point, that sometimes nursing mothers don’t seem to make _any_ effort to nurse more modestly.

    However, I also have to agree with some of the points made by ECS (that notorious boob bully) and Lisa. Modesty can quickly turn into something else. LDS women are already a relatively powerless group — subject to exclusion from hierarchy structure, and subject to sometimes sever social limitations. It is easy for a sometimes-reasonable policy of encouraging relatively discreet feeding, to morph into an oppressive regime of keeping nursing mothers (already a relatively powerless segment of the population) stuck at the back of the bus.

    What is needed is balance. Of course, that gets complicated because everyone’s definition of balance is different.

    I mean, I don’t think we should endorse broad policies of nudism. This isn’t BCC, after all. :)

    But how do we find the right balance? And how do we decide who bears the burden? The original post, while intended in humor, was also intended to focus that question.

    If nursing mothers need to find a balance between convenience and discretion, shouldn’t the rest of us also focus on balancing burdens? Should _all_ the burden be placed on nursing mothers? If we placed it all on men, it would be considered funny (hence the original post). Why do we consider it completely normal to place all the burden on nursing mothers?

  92. Mardell on September 10, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Goodness. What is it about boobs?

    Everybody has them, everybody knows it, everybody should be comfortable with them. If we teach our children to be scared of boobs, they will grow up with negative messages about their bodies. We need to encourage children to have a healthy relationship with bodies.

    (And even young men can be taught to say, it’s just a boob, no big deal. In fact, it helps to see these outside always being in a sexual context. Naked bodies are natural, folks. Naked bodies in Playboy are not natural.)

    Not that we should be flaunting it unnecessarily. No topless protests on the bishop’s doorstep. But women should be able to nurse anywhere they want to, and should just be as discreet as possible. And yes, wardrobe malfunctions happen sometimes, and they’re not a big deal. Unless we make them a big deal.

  93. Dan S. on September 10, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    #92 – “Everybody has them. . .” To be technically correct, only women and men over 40 have them. . . oh yes, and Tenacious D has a couple nice pair. You can’t cover those suckers up!

    But, I digress . . . I agree with Kaimi . . . This isn’t BCC :).

  94. Ardis Parshall on September 10, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    It takes some powerful mindbending to turn a positive virtue like modesty into charges of baby killing and the oppression of womankind. That level of fantasy and party-line mindlessness is beyond reason’s power to reach.

    You’ll excuse me from further participation in your discussion. ECS, Lisa, makakona, Kaimi, please refrain from addressing me in your further comments.

  95. Kristine on September 10, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    I don’t think it’s a positive virtue to feel shy about ensuring your baby’s right to proper nutrition–a natural response to societal shaming, an understandable hesitancy to expose oneself (heh) to rude comments from people who misunderstand–but it is not modesty. Modesty has to do with a recognition of one’s place in the world, and respect for oneself and others. I can’t imagine that helpless babies should not be higher on the list of persons to whom one owes respect than judgmental grownups who ought to know better. It’s not modesty to care more about one’s own embarrassment or the censure of ignorant onlookers than about a baby’s needs.

  96. Julie M. Smith on September 10, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    “It takes some powerful mindbending to turn a positive virtue like modesty into charges of baby killing and the oppression of womankind.”

    Positive virtue like modesty

    is interpreted to mean

    don’t breastfeed your baby in public

    which in turn causes

    a woman to stop or limit breastfeeding

    which, according to the latest research means

    that the baby has a statistically significant higher chance of dying.

    That said, I have gone from being extremely uncomfortable breastfeeding in public (true story: I expressed milk and brought a bottle because I didn’t want to bf at . . . my own baby shower!) to someone who has bf in sacrament meeting and will bf anywhere I happen to be. I think that those who haven’t bf have the level of comfort with the concept that I had 10 years ago–not the level I have now. The only reason I have the level I have now is . . . three kids, one year each. So I try to be sympathetic to those who are uncomfortable, and to be as discreet as reasonably possible. (Technical note: I’ve found that the combination of a tank top and an unbuttoned button down shirt provides the best coverage–you get fabric on two sides, with no blanket to juggle.)

  97. Ray on September 10, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    My final point in this otherwise wonderful thread:

    We can’t have an intelligent, *moderate* conversation on this topic. Not one single person has advocated banning breastfeeding in public, or forcing the use of blankets, or punishment for inadvertent exposure of a breast; hence, not one single person has advocated *anything* that will end in the death of a baby – or even its stunted or less than optimal development. If you parse the last few messages (should have known that was coming), the following words have been used to describe anyone who simply asks for discretion and consideration – the same thing that fmLisa and Julie said they believe should exist:

    “cultural imperialism” – “prudishly hypocritical” – “negative attitudes” – “scared of boobs” – “shy about ensuring your baby’s right to proper nutrition” – “judgmental grownups who ought to know better” – “ignorant onlookers” – “statistically significant higher chance of dying”

    Let me point out one last time: At least two of the women (fmLisa and Julie) lambasting Ardis and, by extension, me, and charging her with complicity in the potential deaths of babies have made the EXACT SAME argument that Ardis made – namely, that discretion and consideration should accompany a woman’s breastfeeding in public. I can’t express how depressing it is to observe that irony.

    I mean that last word sincerely. Motes and beams are powerful things. One person calmly, at first, and then more stridently under direct hyperbolic attack (and we don’t see those comments on this type of thread that are too vulgar and obscene to pass the filters), says something and gets her labeled as an ignorant, backward accomplice to the suppression of women and killing of innocent babies; others join in, adamantly swing broadside mis-characterizations about that person, concede the point she was making and get hailed as champions of women and babies. I’ve been called all kinds of names for things I believe, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been called these things for having the audacity to say the same thing that leaders of the other side said. I’m done here.

  98. Kristine on September 10, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    um, Ray, if you’ll take a look back at comment #6, you may discover the origin of the hyperbolic and nasty tone of the thread…

  99. Julie M. Smith on September 10, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    Ray, my comment wasn’t ignorant hypocrisy–it was a deliberate effort to show support for both sides: on the one hand, there are real health risks to not bfing and we should be willing to endure a little discomfort to support that process. On the other hand, I am extremely sympathetic to those who don’t want to see bared breasts, and do everything I can to bf discreetly. My intention wasn’t to lambast Ardis but rather to point out that ““statistically significant higher chance of dying”” is literally true (not “powerful mindbenging”) but, at the same time, nursing mothers should be extremely considerate of those who don’t want to see flesh.

    I really, really don’t get this argument. Everyone thinks bfing is a good thing. No one thinks public displays of sagging, stretch-marked flesh is a good thing. Bf discretely and be done with the debate.

  100. fMhlisa on September 10, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    Reading back over the comments, I can’t help but find it intensely ironic that I am the one being accused of being rude. My comments were humorous and a general protest again comparing breastfeeding to urination. The response, was a very personal attack against me, an attack that is I think ultimately unsupportable. I don’t recall ever that I ever advocated nipple flaunting in sacrament meeting, nor of flouting current social mores. If you can find examples of me doing so, I will retract, but I think you’re up for a fruitless search.

    As has been stated, I don’t actually disagree with Ardis all the much. I’m hurt and surprised to be accused and attacked so enthusiastically. Especially in light of my fairly benign comments.

    If I am wrong, and I have been “over the top” and “nasty” and if my right to be called a “lady” really does need scare quotes, if I have behaved in such a way that the word to describe me is so vile that Ardis can’t bring herself to type it, then I would appreciate it if someone would point out to me what I wrote specifically so that I can learn from this experience and not act so horribly in the future.

  101. Ardis Parshall on September 10, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you, Lisa, I accept your apology. I also forgive you for taking personally remarks that were pretty obviously made in response to ECS.

  102. Julie M. Smith on September 10, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    Kristine, to be fair, the tone began with this post, not comment #6. I mean–the post before it comparing bfing to peanut allergies. I mean–it began with the peanut allergy post at TftC.

    Oh, well.

  103. Kaimi Wenger on September 10, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Hi everyone,

    It’s great to see some of my favorite blog-folks around here. I really like and respect many of the people on this thread — Ardis and Lisa, Kristine and ECS, Julie and Ray, and of course me. :P (I like a lot of the rest of you, too, just mentioning a few of my favorites).

    I’ve been happy to see a number of people state interesting points. I do think that most of the folks on this thread could get on board with a few principles: That it’s problematic to go to either extreme; that a key is reasonableness and balance. And, I should add, making our suggestions (about breastfeeding, or covering up, or whatever else) in conjunction with the spirit, and in harmony with the golden rule — seeking to put ourselves in others’ shoes before criticizing, and trying to see things if possible from their perspectives.

    It’s been an enlightening discussion, and like all discussions, needs to come to an end. Thanks all for commenting.

    If you’re still feeling the commenting bug, I recommend that you comment about a completely non-controversial topic, like Noah’s flood. Oh, wait, can’t do that. :P

    Why not comment about the view from France — a great post, severely under-commented, at http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4078.

    Thanks!