Mothers Who Know and What Women Know
I am just a little behind on this issue. In fact I didn’t even know it was an issue until Carol mentioned it the other day. She belongs to a Relief Society email newsgroup where the subject was being discussed. Apparently, a number of sisters took offense at the wonderful recent general conference address by Sister Julie B Beck, General President of the Relief Society.
I had to go back and read it again to see what all the fuss was about. The address is entitled ‘Mothers Who Know.” I suppose the main thing that some women took offense at is they felt excluded because they weren’t mothers. I don’t think Sister Beck intended to exclude women who weren’t mothers from her conference address.
In fact, just the week before she gave an equally wonderful address at the women’s broadcast. The subject there was “What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable.” Nobody complained about that talk with her three-part focus on faith, families and relief. I guess it was just that her General Conference talk focused so much on mothering.
Some sisters felt so strongly about what she said that they have actually written a dissenting document and posted it on the Internet. I won’t link to it. You can find it if you want. It is entitled, “What Women Know.” They apparently took offense to Sister Beck starting her talk with a reference to the 2,000 stripling warriors by pointing out how bad war is.
Update: I am so glad to see that enough sisters feel so strongly about this subject that they created their own website entitled, “Mothers Who Know.” I am happy to link to it here.
If you have found and read the opposing statement you may appreciate that the introduction points out that Sister Beck’s talk “conflicts with their inspiration and experience.” When I read that 2 Ne 9:28 came to my mind. I won’t comment on all the other parts of their dissertation but I will comment on two phrases that speak volumes.
One phrase is that too many of these women fear that they “are just one fully-employed male away from poverty.” Huh? Where did that come from and what does it have to do with Sister Beck’s talk? These women seem to be coming from a fear-based and not a faith-based point of view. The church has never taught that women should not excel in education or employability.
The other phrase I find disturbing is that they claim that many of their men “also struggle within a system that equates leadership with hierarchy and domination.” True, the priesthood organization of the Church is hierarchical, but that is from revealed doctrine. Domination is a different story and has forever been preached against as long as I can remember.
I wonder what my mother would have thought of this talk if she were still alive. My mother raised four daughters and two sons. She was an extremely well-read and educated woman. Would she have taken offense at Sister Beck’s reminder to bring children to church “in clean and ironed dresses with hair brushed to perfection?” I’ll have to ask my sisters.
What did you think of Sister Beck’s talk in General Conference? Was it demeaning or offensive or did you find it uplifting and encouraging?