Pithy Phrase

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a woman, I put away childish things.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Update About My Way Fun Life

Hey blogosphere!  I know this is not the purpose of my blog, but I want to let all my blogger friends (yes, you!) know what's up.

It's officially decided.  There is a light at the end of the dark, dank tunnel that is living in Utah.  In August, we will be moving to New York because I will be attending Sarah Lawrence's human genetics/genetic counseling Master's program!

Things didn't work out exactly how I'd planned, but now that the decision is made, I'm getting more excited about it.  I was overwhelmed with NYC when I went there to interview ('twas my first time), but now I'm warming up to the idea of living there.  Husband and I will probably live outside of the city a bit, maybe even in Connecticut.  We really want pets.  And maybe a garden.  (Sometimes we go on dates to animal shelters and coo over the furry inmates.)  Sarah Lawrence is actually in a suburb just outside of the city as well.  So all of that will probably help me not feel so much like a cockroach.

I decided not to do the Ph.D. program at VCU because I fear that after five plus years, I will never go back and get the genetic counseling degree.  There was a chance that they'd combine the two for me at VCU, but that didn't happen.  I decided that I ultimately want to be a genetic counselor, so I'm making that a priority.  Perhaps I'll apply for doctoral programs again after the Master's is got.

Sarah Lawrence was not my favorite, but in the end it's the only genetic counseling program that accepted me.  I was rejected from one (Stanford, no surprise there), and wait-listed at three.  This was unexpected, since I felt really good about my interviews at these other places.  My pride is currently sustaining some injuries, but I guess I'll get over it.  I believe Sarah Lawrence has a good reputation in the genetic counseling profession.  I mean, it was invented there, after all!  It is known as being the "touchy feely school," but the directors counteracted that rumor.  I know I'll get all kinds of varied experiences there, and the program seems well-suited to personal adaptation.  I am concerned about the large class size there (twenty-five students where most programs accept five to ten), and am mourning the loss of a more intimate group of classmates.  It isn't at a medical school like I would have preferred, and it doesn't have complex quantitative genetics or psychiatric genetics (my particular topics of interest) going on specifically, but I think I can tailor it the way I want it.  It's only two years, right?

I think I got in because I told them that in Utah I'm considered a "flaming liberal."  The interviewer seemed to like that.  I saw her write that exact phrase down on her notepad!

So at the moment I'm feeling kind of disappointed, but I just have to keep reminding myself of all the awesome things I can do in New York.  Can you help a sister out?  What are the perks of living in the Big Apple?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It Is Not Enough

A couple of posts ago, a commenter asked me what changes I want to see in Mormonism or in the world.  While they are far too numerous to list in a single post, here is one that has been haunting me for nearly a year now.

I just read a fantastic post over at Zelophehad's Daugthers about the sexist nature of Mormon cosmology.  While I wouldn't assert that Mormonism's cosmology is the most sexist, per say, this post lists a lot of issues I have with the male-centric treatment of eternity in Mormon theology. Don't get me wrong, there are many things I love about Mormon cosmology, like the incorporation of the law of conservation of mass, the idea that we have always existed, and the almost reincarnation-like idea of eternal progression.  So much of Mormon cosmology is beautiful, but it is incomplete in its presentation.  It is presented from an entirely male point of view.  As the ZD post mentions, while Jehovah, Adam/Michael, Abraham, and Peter, James, and John all play a role in premortality, there is no mention of Eve, Sarah, Mary, or any other woman in our premortal dialogue.  And that includes Heavenly Mother.  We are taught that the plan of salvation was Heavenly Father's, and that he taught it to all of us, his spirit children.  Did Heavenly Mother have no say in this plan?  Did she not teach it to us as well?  Were all of the pre-Earth logistics undertaken by men alone?  What were all of us female types doing that whole time?  Why haven't these questions been addressed?

I am grateful that we have a Heavenly Mother at all.  Given the Mormon doctrine that sex/gender is an eternal characteristic, it would stand to reason that a literally male god would have a literally female equivalent (unless you want to go down that "everyone was male until God created Lilith/Eve/Pandora and thereby introduced evil into the world" road, which I, of course, do not).  But somehow, it is not necessary that we know a single thing about her, except that she exists.  Men can look at all the information we have about Heavenly Father, and have some idea as to what to expect, should they succeed in attaining exaltation.  They can expect to create worlds, have eternal posterity, and be omniscient and omnipotent.  Women have exactly none of that.  I have almost no idea what exaltation would hold for me; I only have what I learn in the temple.  There, I learn that I am to be obedient to my husband and that I "get to" be a priestess to him.  So all I can gather is that I am bound to an eternity of servitude and childbearing.  To be honest, if that picture is accurate, I don't want exaltation.  I'd rather chill in a lower echelon of glory where everyone is equally in second place.

When visiting my husband’s home ward last Christmas, I attended the gospel essentials class taught by my fabulous feminist mother-in-law.  It was on Heavenly Father, and at some point in the lesson I made a comment about Heavenly Mother.  After church, my fabulous feminist father-in-law came up to me and kindly told me that I can’t mention Heavenly Mother in a gospel essentials class where investigators and new members are present.   I replied that I see no reason why that should not be addressed, and he answered that the doctrine of Heavenly Mother is “not essential.”  When I tearfully asked why not, he fairly admitted that he didn’t know, and that it was troubling.  I was certainly troubled, and went to my room and moped and wept about it a little bit.

That is my question now: why is Heavenly Mother not essential?  Why the hell not?  Why is it not essential that over half of the church have an inkling of what eternity holds for them? Why do women not warrant actual, knowable role models: a mother, a goddess, a female angel or prophetess? When will the entirely male leaders realize that what we have isn’t enough?

It is not enough for me.

I wish more women (and men) would stand up and admit it with me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Free-For-All Brag Fest

I just read a post on feminist Mormon housewives and have to give it a spin here on my own blog.  fMh Lisa, the author of the post, called my attention to the fact that women in our culture are socialized to devalue their accomplishments.  In fact, while men consistently tend to overestimate their awesomeness, women consistently tend to underestimate their awesomeness.  Why is this the case?  Why is a healthy sense of pride desirable in men, but undesirable in women?  Humility is certainly a virtue, but self-deprecation is not.

Think about it, ladies: what would you do if another woman complimented you on, say, your toned upper arms?  I'd probably waggle one around to make it jiggle and say, "no way, look how flabby they are!"  If I were to compliment Husband in the same way, I know exactly how he'd respond.  He'd put on a gruff voice and say, "I'm a big strong man!"

I have been attempting to stop myself from devaluing compliments for several years.  I try to accept all compliments with sincere thank yous and no qualifiers.  But it's so darn hard!  And that's to say nothing of volunteering why I am amazing on my own.

With that in mind, I am going to give it a go right here and now.  I am going to tell you my secret shame: why I am proud of myself.  I have a strong urge to downplay these.  I have a strong urge to admit that so-and-so is better than me at this or that.  I have a strong urge to give into the chronic plague that is the imposter syndrome.  But I refuse to give place to those urges.  So here is a lovely list of ten reasons why I am fabulous:

1. I'm smart.  I’m a female scientist.  At BYU.  I have participated in lots of research.  I have formed lasting relationships with several excellent professors who think very highly of me.  I am an excellent genetics TA.  I'm good at giving presentations - and actually enjoy it.

2. I’ve been accepted into a PhD program.

3. I did a summer internship in Germany and was successful there.

4. I can sing really well.  I am astounded at the progress I’ve made in sight-singing in the past five years. I’ve sung in a choir for twelve consecutive years now.

5. I have an aptitude for dancing.  I have varying levels of experience with ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, ballroom, swing, and hip hop.  I’m currently learning to belly dance, and I’m good at it!

6. I've got a nice tush!  Seriously, ask anyone.

7. I’ve got class, charisma, and culture (and I'm good at using alliteration!).  I'm adept at writing genuine thank-you notes.  I like to help people around me.  I volunteer at a battered women's shelter, where I give real service to people who have great need.  When I want to, I can command the attention of a room.  I have a sizable knowledge of art, literature, music, politics, history, religion, and of course science.

8. For two summers, I volunteered at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, California, where I was painted from head to toe (practically) on a nightly basis and posed as a tableau vivant!  In other words, I pretended to be paintings and sculptures.  To about 125,000 people each year.  Here's one of the pieces I did (I was the one on the left).

9. I'm left-handed!

10. I dare to be an outspoken, liberal, feminist Mormon!  I'm no longer afraid to say what I'm thinking in church.  I'm no longer afraid of people who think or live differently than I do.

Whew!  I won't tell you how long that took.  Or how difficult it was to refrain from self-deprecation.  Then again, are these last two sentences my way of implying that I really am humble?  Curses!  Oh well, I did my best, I suppose.

 As some commenters at fMh have said, ultimately I hope we will all be able to believe in our own un-qualified awesomeness without having to list our accomplishments.  Someday I hope to embrace my value like the fabulous woman I know from my home ward, who is always saying, "I have unusually high self-esteem for no reason in particular.  I just look in the mirror every morning and think, 'I'm fantastic!'"

It's your turn, dear readers!  Tell me why you are fabulous, with absolutely no qualifying statements.  Okay go!