Beck and Call

October 7, 2007 | 64 comments
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Just FYI, if 400+ comments at T&S aren’t enough for you, check out some of the following other nacle reactions to President Beck’s talk:

Heather at MMW: What I Wish President Beck had Said.
Lisa at FMH: I Want to Sustain Her, but I Don’t Believe Her.
Carrie at Tales: President Beck’s Other Talk.
Kristine Haglund: I’m a Traitor to my Gender Why I Liked President Beck’s Talk (Mostly).

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64 Responses to Beck and Call

  1. Janet on October 7, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Kristine wins for best title–even better than your\’s, Kaimi. I really think the talk has some good stuff and a bit of editing would make it far less problematic. I am curios if she knows the firestorm she\’s set off, and if it makes her feel self-righteous, circumspect, sad, or what.

  2. Russell Arben Fox on October 7, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Kristine’s post simply demonstrates once again that everything–childrearing, everything–makes more sense once you bring class into the discussion. (In a sense, though, she’s only extending the best parts of Sister Beck’s talk–which came when she emphasized the need to make do with less, to get off the materialist path which sells motherhood as an act of lifestyle and consumption–and making that theme consistent with the talk’s whole focus on homemaking.) A superb post.

  3. Kaimi Wenger on October 7, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    By the way, if you’re interested in a print copy of the remarks, check out Tanya Spackman’s transcription at FMH: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=1386#comment-255912

  4. Kevin Barney on October 7, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Just to add to your list, my guilt thread isn’t about the Beck talk, but it was inspired by it:

    http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/10/guilt-as-a-motivational-tool/#comment-153734

  5. Liz Starley on October 7, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    The only reason I can see for someone getting offended by Sister Beck\’s comments is that the truth hurts in a way. What did she say that wasn\’t true and part of God\’s plan? Some single mothers have to work out of necessity, and I don\’t think she was talking to them, but instead the mothers that choose to pay someone else to raise their kids so they can have a nicer car.

    Kids should learn about righteousness in the home, and mothers should be the teachers. If mothers spend their days at work they are wasting precious time they could be spending with their children. I\’m glad Sis. Beck spoke so frankly, because it needed to be said. I obtained a college degree so I could teach my children and someday, when they are grown, teach others full-time. When people say they \”have\” to work, normally it\’s only because they\’ve gotten themselves into a financial crunch to where they have to.

    If a woman is staying home and her husband working, why shouldn\’t she do most of the work? My husband has chores, but most things are done by the time he gets home. The world is shifting, but we shouldn\’t be shifting with it. I didn\’t find her talk offensive at all and I come from a very egalitarian marriage. I think people need to read it again and pray for a little humility.

  6. Steve Evans on October 7, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Liz, I completely agree. I only let my wife complete her undergrad in applied physics and her master’s in mathematics so that she could teach Cauchy-Riemann equations to our children in the home.

  7. TT on October 7, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    I would also add that (seemingly prophetically) I preemptively discussed some highly relevant themes here: http://faithpromotingrumor.wordpress.com/2007/10/03/is-the-family-the-problem/

  8. Frank McIntyre on October 8, 2007 at 12:02 am

    “I only let my wife complete her undergrad in applied physics and her master’s in mathematics so that she could teach Cauchy-Riemann equations to our children in the home.”

    That is an excellent idea. There are far too many children who lack a deep understanding of calculus and really it can only be considered the fault of the parents for not making it a part of mealtime.

  9. Steve Evans on October 8, 2007 at 12:15 am

    the schedule is tight: laundry-physics-cooking-mathematics-cleaning. But we make it work. For the kids.

  10. dave on October 8, 2007 at 12:43 am

    This whole uproar has been so confusing to me. We beg to have a leader actually call the women to do better instead of telling them they are perfect (because that is demeaning) and then complain about how demeaning it is when a leader calls them to do better. But… as I type this I am realizing that some of those that are offended might be because they think that she is not valuing the things that they do and that she is telling them to do things that they don’t value. I’m just confused. For some reason all of the women I talked to in real life kept saying how much they loved the talk–thus my surprise upon seeing all of these comments. (Not the comments on this specific thread by the way). :)

  11. Brian D. on October 8, 2007 at 12:44 am

    I don’t recall Sister Beck counseling women to avoid college degrees, rather she said:

    Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make up homes that create a climate for spiritual growth.

    My wife completed her MBA just a month or two before our first child was born. She mentioned wanting to drop out of the program since she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I pressed her to complete the program for her own personal development and possible uses in the future. She is glad she completed her MBA and so am I.

  12. Clair on October 8, 2007 at 12:50 am

    I missed Sister Beck’s talk this morning, but just watched it at byutv.com, after having read a couple of hundred comments on it. From many of those comments, I expected something very different from what I saw.

    What I saw was a heartfelt, thoughtful and visionary talk that I believe is needed in much of the church, my home included. It was presented with a clarity that I consider prophetic.

    Some of the stuff in the blogs about wearing pantyhose, having perfectly coiffed children and such were imagined or fundamentally misrepresented/misstated. I realize that the online comments are quick impressions typed while trying to watch or listen. That is a hazard of multi-tasking. I’m glad I watched the whole talk uninterrupted. I will watch it again.

  13. svr on October 8, 2007 at 1:02 am

    Liz,

    I beg to differ with your comment,

    \”When people say they \\”have\\” to work, normally it\\’s only because they\\’ve gotten themselves into a financial crunch to where they have to.\”

    I believe that many if not most working mothers, LDS or not, are there because of the need. The opposite is the exception. For most women it is natural to want to be with and take care of your children. It is heart-wreching to leave your baby with someone else and miss out on the joyous events of growing up. I would have given up anything (except the ability to feed and shelter) to not have to work and be with mine for those hours. It leaves few hours at the end of the day to fit in an entire day\’s responsibilities at home, which is the other edge of the double sword.

    I hope you are never in a situation where you have to work and leave your children knowing they need you.

  14. Julie M. Smith on October 8, 2007 at 1:58 am
  15. MCQ on October 8, 2007 at 2:37 am

    “Some single mothers have to work out of necessity, and I don\’t think she was talking to them, but instead the mothers that choose to pay someone else to raise their kids so they can have a nicer car.”

    Liz, I hear comments like that all the time in the nacle and I think they are unfair and hurtful to employed women. In my experience, women who are employed outside the home are not “paying someone else to raise their kids.” They are passionate about raising their kids and are doing so the best way they know how in a team with their husbands, who gladly bear a much larger responsibility in this area than men who happen to be married to SAHMs. These women do not work so that they can have a nicer car. They do so because it is important to them and they believe that by pursuing a career while raising their kids they can create the best life possible for both themselves and their families. That may not be your choice, but please don’t insult theirs.

  16. queuno on October 8, 2007 at 10:25 am

    That is an excellent idea. There are far too many children who lack a deep understanding of calculus and really it can only be considered the fault of the parents for not making it a part of mealtime.

    In other words, to paraphrase the Eyrings, mothers need to teach their children to think about calculus when they don’t have to think about it.

  17. Frank McIntyre on October 8, 2007 at 11:15 am

    “In other words, to paraphrase the Eyrings, mothers need to teach their children to think about calculus when they don’t have to think about it.”

    Oftentimes, when evil thoughts enter one’s head, they can be driven out by solving a constrained maximization problem. I’m pretty sure President Packer gave a talk about this.

  18. queuno on October 8, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Constrained maximization problems have the effect of driving out most other rational thought, as well. Another good strategy to ward off evil thoughts is to manually calculate back propagation on a 3x5x3 net.

  19. Frank McIntyre on October 8, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Queuno, I think you are well on your way to a viable Deseret Book book contract. Flesh it out with some examples of upper hemi-continuity and you’ve got a place on the EFY circuit.

  20. Fletcher on October 8, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Actually, I use semi or non parametric regression to ward out evil thoughts, but there is still come calculus in there as well.

  21. Meli on October 8, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    I’ll admit that I got very upset about her talk. VERY UPSET.

    The reason wasn’t the shining happy videos of housecleaning. The reason is the same problem I’ve had since joining the church 12 years ago.

    Women = Mother

    That was such an unspoken GIVEN in her talk. She threw like 1 sentence in that if you aren’t a mother in this world, you will be given the chance in the next.

    But I’m not the only women in my ward with fertility issues. I have a loving husband, but many women don’t even have that.

    The Relief Society is supposed to be the organization for WOMEN, not MOTHERS. Yes, most women in the Church either are, or want to be mothers. But a women’s life is much more then the 20-30 years of having children in the home. Before women get married, before they have children, they are still women. Once her oldest child goes to college, her job as a mother and as a women isn’t done. Women have a whole life, not just their children’s life. And while raising children to the Lord is a wonderful part of her life, if it defines her whole being, it sets up the wonderful guilt complexes that have so many women crying. I love the Church, normally I know that it’s true, but for all those without children, without a husband, without goodly parents, WE ARE ALL WOMEN. And we deserve to see a place for ourselves in this Church. We shouldn’t feel that if our kids and our husband our at Church and clean we’ve done our jobs. We need to be at Church for us and for our family, so we can all progress, so we can all excel. Yes, raising children is an amazingly important job, but it isn’t our whole purpose and being in life.

    The other reason this talk is such a focus, is that 2 women talked at General Conference. That’s it. If we’re looking for role models in the Church, we have to look hard. And when one of the women speaking upsets so many, I think it’s revealing the slightly unfirm footing a lot of women feel in the Church.

    I think it was Elder Bednar who followed, and his line about being read BOM stories by his mother in bed, said Beck’s talk better then she did. Raising righteous children is about the small moments, not the outward displays. And small moments can happen even if circumstances force you to raise children after your husband has left, gone to war, died, etc. It can happen at 3 in the afternoon, in the early hours of the morning, or in a few precious hours that you spend together after work.

    Maybe I should be over at fMh

  22. Jacob M on October 8, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Adam – thanks for that link. It is true genius!

  23. Frank McIntyre on October 8, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    “Actually, I use semi or non parametric regression to ward out evil thoughts, but there is still come calculus in there as well. ”

    I think this counts as long as you are doing it by hand. If the computer is iterating away I don’t see how this could save your soul. Writing out your own likelihood function, on the other hand, probably can save your soul.

  24. Mi on October 8, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    “They do so because it is important to them and they believe that by pursuing a career while raising their kids they can create the best life possible for both themselves and their families.”

    MCQ… but .. they .. don’t. Mothers who work full time out of the house – especially in the younger years – and raise latchkey kids are NOT acting in the best interests of the children (excepting the widows and those mothers who did a major disservice to their children by picking a horrible husband in the first place).

    The studies are legion showing that daycare – especially prior to age 3 – has a negative impact on the mother-child bond. The effect is far more pronounced with lesser-quality daycare environments, but the women who demand that they are not people unless they can dump their kid off on somebody else for the day tend to be more concerned with finding “daycare” than finding “quality daycare”.

    “the more time children spent in center-based care before kindergarten, the more likely their sixth grade teachers were to report such problem behaviors as “gets in many fights,” “disobedient at school,” and “argues a lot.” (National Institutes of Health)

    But of course that doesn’t matter, does it?

    What is important is that the woman gets more of what she wants – money, material goods, power, prestige – and she doesn’t have to spend as much time with the kids that she “loves” soooooo much that it is more important to stay away from them. Right? (Funny thing is, in recent years more and more women have started to regret not being home with and more importantly for the kids and are starting to leave the workplace and return home. And a LOT of women are having significant regrets at putting off childbirth through the late 80s and the 90s. But nobody ever wants to talk about THAT… the only thing that is important is that those who want to put career BEFORE family (and there is no fair balance despite what people claim) get what THEY want – the kids are packed into what little room there is left over.

  25. James on October 8, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    I think that before reacting to General Conference talks, people need to remember three words, “do your best.” Conference talks establish the ideal, the desired result in a perfect world. All we are obligated to do is our best effort to strive for that goal. We don’t have to be perfect in this life, we just have to keep working for it.

  26. Mi (the first) on October 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Just letting everyone know that #25 is not me – the first commenter I am aware of that posted as ‘Mi”. So, Mi of #25, is there a good way for us to distinguish between the two of us when we comment?

  27. Adam Greenwood on October 8, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Mi (the second),
    I largely agree with you, but do we really need to act as if women who put their children in daycare have bad motives. No doubt many of them do (I know some) but some may need to financially, others may be confused, others may have recieved particular revelation, others may be pressured by their husbands, by family, by societal expectations, etc.

  28. Ben H on October 8, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Ah, good. Someone just zapped the comment Ray was referring to.

  29. Austin on October 8, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Are all feminists this fragile, or just Mormon feminists?

  30. Ray on October 8, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    and someone might have to zap another one. Austin, my wife and others are not “feminists” as it appears you define that term. Please don’t belittle either side with such sweeping generalizations.

  31. Austin on October 8, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I am not saying you are a feminist. I am sincerely asking the question.
    It seems that the FMH crowd is pretty fragile when it comes to having their feelings hurt.

  32. Mi #2 on October 8, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Not a troll, Ray, somebody who believes sarcasm is the best way to get a point across.

    Adam – the motives of the women who do bad things aren’t particularly relevant. Daycare is bad. A necessary evil at times, but always bad. And yes, the pressure increases – but this is by design. As daycare becomes more and more common (and “affordable”) the pressure to avail oneself of the resource is guaranteed to mount. This is the same process that eliminated most home cooking.

  33. Ray on October 8, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Unidentifiable sarcasm delivered in all caps is never, imo, appropriate. There can be a difference between trolls and trollish words, but the trollish words are all that we can see.

  34. Zap on October 8, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Are all people named Austin this rude, or just the Mormon ones?

  35. Austin on October 8, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    How is what I said rude? Who said I am Mormon?

  36. John C. on October 8, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Austin,
    If you need an explanation for how calling women with whom you disagree “fragile” is rude, there are deeper issues here at work. Just trust me, it is rude.

    If you ain’t Mormon, well that’s fine. Please learn to be polite in any case.

  37. Steve Evans on October 8, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    If you’re not a mormon, why are you wasting your time here? Good heavens man — get a job.

  38. Kaimi Wenger on October 8, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    He also used a classic insult — a purported question offering a choice of answers, where both options are demeaning. I.e., “Is everyone in your family this dumb, or just you?” That’s not an attempt to participate in discussion, it’s an insult thinly disguised as a question.

    (You’ll note, Austin, that along the same lines, Zap never said you were Mormon. He just asked a vague, open-ended question, didn’t he?)

    Austin, if you’ve got some specific comment from a commenter here that you’d like to discuss, why don’t you point it out. And if your quibble is with other blogs, like FMH, why don’t you point it out, there.

  39. Austin on October 8, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    John – I should have asked the question differently. Sorry it came out that way.
    What I meant to say was this – When I hear the word feminist, among other things, I think of strong people that know their own mind and do not let others tell them how to think. However, when I read some of the posts on FMH, there were people that left the room and cried after having their feelings hurt by a speaker. That does not strike me as an attribute I think of when I hear the word feminist.

  40. Austin on October 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Kaimi – The first post on this topic is a group of links to other sites. I was commenting on one of the sites from that post. I understand how my post was rude and have already apologized.

  41. Kaimi Wenger on October 8, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Fair enough, Austin. Thanks for the apology and clarification. (Our comments seem to have crossed in the ether — they’re posted just a minute apart.)

    It’s a good question, now that you put it that way. If a woman is a feminist, then, even if she doesn’t like Sister Beck’s talk, should it really make her cry? Is that too much of a traditional feminine response?

    I don’t know the answer to that. I think that different women incorporate feminist ideals into their lives in different ways. I’m sure the reaction of many Mormon feminists was like Lisa — not to cry, but to argue back. But I don’t want to criticize those who react by crying. Negotiating life as a Mormon feminist can be a tightrope, full of emotionally charged decisions, as many posts at FMH attest. Perhaps President Beck’s talk may have been difficult for some Mormon feminists (delicately trying to balance the two) to hear without crying.

    Perhaps some of them will respond here. I didn’t cry myself at the talk, but that’s probably because I’m a man, and I only cry for Disney movies.

  42. Ray on October 8, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    As Kaimi said, now it makes sense. Thanks for the clarification, Austin.

  43. Julie M. Smith on October 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Meli re #21:

    So is it your position that it is never OK for an entire GC talk to focus on mothers? If so, what other topics are verboten because they rub salt in wounds? No talks about temple blessings out of regard for those with wayward children or nonmember parents? Nothing about missionary service out of regard for those whose physical condition prevents them from serving?

    She gave a talk about mothering, not about women. If her topic had been women, then, yes, it would have been a terribly insensitive talk to pretend that all women are mothers. But her topic was mothers.

  44. Kristine on October 8, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    “to pretend that all women are mothers”

    That one’s been done. (Which may contribute to the heightened sensitivity on the topic)

  45. Julie M. Smith on October 8, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Ha, Kristine. I just commented on my other thread on how I’m used to having my words parsed to death but I didn’t realize the land mine I’d stepped on with that phrase. I do realize that there is a substantial strain of LDS thought that suggests that all women are mothers. I don’t buy it, but that’s a topic for another post. I do think that after the dust has settled, a discussion on why this topic hit such a nerve would be interesting.

  46. Ray on October 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Julie, if you have that discussion, you better exclude the men. *grin*

  47. Martin James on October 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    I’ve not seen many comments on this part of her talk.

    “Children are being born into a world where they wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

    Who, precisely, is she calling out here? Are the high places, high spiritual places? If not, why say “spiritual wickedness” rather than just wickedness? Who are the rulers of the darkness of this world?

    Women in the know, know the answers to these questions.

  48. Adam Greenwood on October 8, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Martin James, this is a direct quote from scripture:

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/eph/6/12#12

    I always had the idea that the principalities, powers, etc., referred to are devilish hierarchies (or Lowerarchies).

  49. MCQ on October 8, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Mi (#25): I’m not going to continue the threadjack, but let me just point out that there are a ton of unsupported assumptions in your comment. I also take issue with the list of motivatons you give for mothers who are employed. It’s apparently one of the few remaining acceptable prejudices among Mormons: judging and denigrating mothers who work outside the home. For my part, you can save it. When two people love each other and act as a team, they can make anything work.

  50. Janet on October 8, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Austin–reading your comments here helps me understand more aptly what you said at FMH. I wasn’t one of the feminists who responded to President Beck’s talk with tears. Until I saw how much her words hurt other women, I sort of “blew off” the housekeeping = nurturing bit and tried to get her general gist. I find the women = mothers equation much more problematic, but I’ll stay away from that chesnut until Julie or Kristine bring it back up.

    In answer to your question above, I offer the following: feminists may have strong ideological beliefs and a capability of defending those beliefs rhetorically. They may have a great deal of strength at making their own decisions and feeling confident in their relationship with God as they work to better their souls. But since we’re all human, we all have our hot buttons and we can all feel hurt. I know lots of feminists who can stick up for *other* women extremely well, but struggle when it comes to protecting themselves. Ideology doesn’t imply the perfect emotional adherence to the strength one hopes to gain.

  51. Martin Willey on October 8, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    My wife (SAHM with an MBA) said, “This is the kind of talk that would have really bugged me five years ago.” I didn’t hear it because I was doing laundry. I plan to read it, though. Although I am sure Sis. Beck was motivated by the desire to strengthen women and families, it sounds like she didn’t quite hit the mark. Can we chalk it up to inexperience? Can we give her a break?

  52. Martin James on October 8, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Adam,

    I knew that as I also knew that there are 22 verses separating that verse from from Ephesians 5:22.

    Not everyone was happy with the rephrasing of certain covenants.

  53. Clair on October 9, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Fun with Ephesians 5:

    25 “Wives, love your husbands, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought women to love their husbands as their own bodies. She that loveth her husband loveth herself. For no woman ever yet hated her own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.”

    Washing, without spot, without wrinkle, nourishing, cherishing??? What could Paul be thinking? Was he channelling President Beck?

    Or was he writing to the women at all?

  54. Ray on October 9, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Sorry, Kaimi. The trolls are coming out of the woodwork now that it’s late and they can’t face responses.

  55. Ray on October 9, 2007 at 2:00 am

    #55 was directed at a comment that has been deleted, not Clair’s.

  56. Ardis Parshall on October 9, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Not deleted, but moved temporarily into moderation where cooler heads than mine can evaluate them during daylight hours. Except for obvious trash from passing drug peddlers and English psychics, comments are not deleted at the whim of a single permablogger.

  57. Ray on October 9, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Whatever the situation, Ardis, thanks.

  58. john f. on October 9, 2007 at 10:39 am

    We have evidence from this Conference of President Hinckley’s calling as a prophet. His talk about Anger was before Sister Beck’s talk about Motherhood.

  59. Julie M. Smith on October 9, 2007 at 10:40 am

    LOL, john f., good job.

  60. john f. on October 9, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Thanks Julie. By the way, I really got a lot out of your post about President Beck’s talk. Also, Kristine’s post about it was fantastic. The two of you helped me understand and appreciate a talk that I was tempted to be dismissive of at first. I am glad that you both posted your level-headed and insightful analyses of the talk before I commented on it anywhere around the blogs. I have changed my mind about it and am grateful for President Beck’s message. Thank you.

  61. Austin on October 9, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Janet – Makes sense. I am just disappointed that people seem to be so difficult to please. If there had been 10 talks by women, my guess is that there would have been far less criticism of President Beck’s talk. Given that talks from women are in scarce supply at GC, women that talk are put in the position where they must be all things to all people.

  62. Fletcher on October 9, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    “I think this counts as long as you are doing it by hand. If the computer is iterating away I don’t see how this could save your soul. Writing out your own likelihood function, on the other hand, probably can save your soul.”

    Actually, I do Frank. Almost all of my econometrics (both classical and Bayesian) is done in matlab; unless it’s a really large data set and I have to get the standard errors right. Though the bayesian in me thinks that a likelihood function in the first place will damn my soul to hell.

  63. Kaimi Wenger on October 9, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the comments, all.

    I’m going to close the comments now, so that I can go yell at my wife for not ironing my socks.

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