Throughout the world the cries for women to become involved in various feminist movements have become commonplace. Therefore, many young women participants filled this workshop—looking, asking, wondering what thoughts the Church would bring to bear on the arguments with which they must contend daily. Our discussion leader was Elaine Cannon.
Here are the four basic arguments used by the radical feminists movement and the conclusions of the group in response to them:
1. Men treat women as things. All agreed that no woman need be treated as a “thing” nor need she lack individuality. Respect as an individual is a matter of character and development. It is something every person, male or female, must earn. As Latter-day Saints who accept the Lord’s concept of marriage and family units, we understand that every woman is a highly important part of her own little kingdom.
2. Women are put in a second-rate, subservient position. The group concluded that simply because men and women are biologically and psychologically different, that does not mean that one is superior to the other. In fact, the relationship can be compared to a circle with each sex being one half of the circle. The two sexes do not and should not duplicate each other, yet neither is really complete without the other.
In the Church the Lord has blessed men with the priesthood and women with motherhood. All agreed that a Latter-day Saint woman has an enviable position as a true partner. Today’s marriages are patterns in partnership—especially in the Church—and so no woman should feel subservient. However, Latter-day Saint girls should strive to become familiar with the principle of priesthood authority in the home and in the Church. If they understand this principle, they should be comfortable in such a system.
3. Women want day-care centers. Everyone easily understands why day-care centers could begin to sound appealing. But it is also easy to see the harm that could be done by such programs. One coed commented that she has learned from her experience in tending young children that they learn to love those who are around them and who teach them on a day-to-day basis. Thus, the different discipline patterns of the day-care center and the home would tend to confuse the child in his formulative years.
Another coed pointed out that stable people are the result of stable homes, not homes where they have been passed from baby-sitter to baby-sitter. The secret to well-adjusted children is consistency and continuity, qualities that are hard to achieve for the mother who isn’t around her children very much. One coed summed up the whole thing when she said that women who leave their homes to work on the world’s problems are only activating the same problems in the homes that they leave.
4. There is no fulfillment in being a housewife. What kind of fulfillment can a woman possibly find during those years when she feels that the most important contribution she can make to the world each day is three meals and clean diapers?
The answer, said the girls who participated in the discussion, is simple—a lot. It’s all in her attitude.
All agreed that community and church work needs to be done, but again, the smart woman will set her priorities, get organized, and find the right time to do it.
One girl commented that there are so many modern conveniences available to the housewife today that she now has time she didn’t have a few years ago. The well-organized Latter-day Saint woman can straighten her house, read to her children for two hours, fix a good meal, and still have two hours that night to teach an MIA class or distribute United Fund brochures, as well as have a quiet hour with her husband to discuss the day’s activities.
You say there are no challenges in that sort of life?
Is it more challenging to go out in the community and help juvenile delinquents than it is to teach your own children principles of good citizenship on a consistent, day-to-day basis?
Is it more fulfilling to take a literature class than it is to read War and Peace with your teenager and learn from each other?
Is there more potential in fighting the social ills of the world than there is in making your own home a pleasant, happy, and desirable place for your husband and children?
A young coed seemed to pin down the entire concept of Women’s Liberation quite well when she said that it is based around the philosophy of “I want” instead of “What can I give?”—a surefire formula for dissatisfaction.
President David O. McKay told us that no success can ever compensate for failure in the home. The woman who prepares and maintains the ability—physical and mental—to alleviate that failure will never yearn for greater achievement.