The church of male chauvinists

We had a stake priesthood meeting Sunday night.  In case anybody is wondering what stake leaders tell the men when they have them all alone in the stake center, with no women there to hear their dark secrets, I am about to let you in on something confidential:  we are all often told not to be male chauvinists.  I know this is disappointing to many, but it is nevertheless true.

Our stake president told a story of a meek, kind woman married to an overbearing man in our stake.  Apparently, there was a discussion at a social event that our stake president attended, and the woman said, “well I think….”

At which point her overbearing husband shouted across the room:  “Wow, you’re thinking.  That’s a change!”  Hardy-har-har!!!

The stake president said the woman seemed to deflate in front of his eyes.  Our stake president’s face got red and angry as he talked to 300 men in the stake center and he said he had never been so upset at a man who held the priesthood as he was at this man for being unkind to his wife.

“I am telling you with all the power and authority I have as stake president that if you are not kind and thoughtful to your wife, you are not worthy of the priesthood, and you will suffer judgment in front of God,” the stake president thundered.  I have never heard him raise his voice before.  Ever.

Our stake president is the mildest, kindest man you have ever met, but apparently some people in the stake needed reminding that when it comes to our church, male chauvinists need not apply.

I’ve been extra nice to my wife since then.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “The church of male chauvinists

  1. I worked for a man once who used to get periodic calls from President Faust (they were old law school buddies). Boss was the kind of man you’re talking about — I think his mistreatment of his wife had gone beyond what you’re describing, but included the same kind of belittlement. Wife couldn’t go grocery shopping by herself, for instance, because she might pick up the wrong brand of flour or the wrong size jug of laundry detergent. It was important enough to President Faust that he called to check up on Boss, to ask him how he was treating his wife and encourage him to do better.

  2. Good to hear. It’s not about putting women on a pedestal; it’s about the basic kindness that should be shown in a marriage.

    To be fair, I also find it very disappointing when women speak in a derogatory, demeaning way about their husbands. It certainly happens.

  3. I’m just jealous that you have stake priesthood meetings on Sunday evenings. The last three stakes I’ve lived in (1996–present) all have had their priesthood meetings at 7:00 Sunday mornings. Nothing good happens at that ungodly hour.

  4. Mike, ouch! Sunday morning? I used to have high council meetings at that time, but that’s the kind of thing you agree to when you sign up for a gig like that. Speaking of male chauvinists, how are the brethren supposed to help get the kids ready for church if they’re all at priesthood meetings at 7 a.m.?

  5. You know, it might just be the nature of almost all men that, as soon as they receive a little authority as they see it, they immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. I’m pleased that your SP is willing to stand up against that.

  6. I feel to say, “Praise to the man!” I applaud your stake president and wish all stake presidents would repeat that same admonition and warning to the priesthood holders in their stakes. Men who are unkind to their wives have no place in the Kingdom of God.

  7. This doesn’t necessarily sound like a case of male chauvinism per se. It sounds like a case of a man being rude and unkind to his wife. I could easily see a woman being rude to her husband in a similar fashion. Seems more like a lesson in treating one’s spouse with dignity and respect than a lesson in unrighteous dominion, etc.

    I still applaud your stake president for taking a stand against it.

  8. Jack, thanks for dropping by. But isn’t the title ‘Church of male chauvinists’ more eye-catching? It caught your eye. But more seriously, I have not portrayed it as completely as I could have, but my stake president’s point was, “don’t be rude, but don’t exercise unrighteous dominion and be a male chauvinist either.”

  9. I think there are men who buy into demeaning stereotypes of women. I’ve met far too many. I think they are the vast, vast minority in the Church. And let’s be honest, the Brethren have been railing against this for decades. But some people for whatever reasons do this. In some cases it reflects some deeper issues – often in my experience the men don’t have a lot of experience with women, didn’t date much, and then don’t know how to cope with some of the problems in their marriage or issues with their wive’s health. (Sometimes hormones, sometimes depression, sometime deeper issues) Rather than reacting with charity in a Christlike way trying to improve their marriage they react in demeaning ways out of frustration, making things worse not to mention undermining their priesthood.

    Even beyond this class of people I think there are a lot of people who need to learn a lot more about their spouses. (And as Mark noted, this goes both ways at times: I think we’ve all seen men mistreated by their spouses as well — and there definitely is a double standard there at times)

  10. I salute your stake president, Geoff. Such demeaning behavior (that of the husband) is not okay, nor is it condoned in any way by LDS scripture or tradition.

  11. I don’t think we are a church of male chauvinists, as much as (like any organization), we have our fair share of male chauvinists.
    I asked my boys what the topics at stake priesthood mtgs. were; and they listed p0rn and treating girls with respect as the top two topics. Despite the preaching from the pulpit it still happens in a few situations with teens and adults. These situations are probabaly caused by bad parenting, immaturity, p0rn, and mental illness.

  12. I know. I just don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I do have to add that the biggest jerk men, with a couple of exceptions since then (come to think of it they were BYU alumni sigh), I have ever run into were at BYU 25 or so years ago. I hope they all did some growing up and are no longer quite as jerky. Young men are often (but not always) jerks.

    I do not recall a lesson “how to treat men” in Relief Society with the broader exception of “respecting priesthood”. I do know of some examples of women not treating their husbands with respect. A lesson in Relief Society would be justified.

  13. Cool story, Geoff. I think nowadays the general feeling that men in the church come away with is: If you don’t do good by your family there’s gonna be hell to pay — literally. That’s as it should be.

  14. I knew a couple in the church in which the wife was the verbally abusive one towards her husband. At first, I thought she was “the bad guy”. However, the full story proved to be more complicated. They were equally abusive towards each other, it was just that the husband could keep his mouth shut at church (and she couldn’t), thereby making her look like the only bad guy in the picture. But back at home, he gave verbal abuse as good as he got it. They were locked into a pattern. And even when he didn’t specifically provoke her to abuse in public, she was locked into a pattern of always speaking to him in an abusive manner. He could relax and let his claws retract, but she always had her claws out.

    The emotional poison in their marriage built up to the point where they finally divorced, and they both ended up being happier and calmer people.

    However, their son followed his mother’s pattern more than his father’s, and he grew into the habit of having his claws out more often than not. She spoke to him like she did to her husband, and then he started treating her like his father treated her.

    We seem to spend our childhood absorbing the patterns of our parents. And then the rest of our lives trying to overcome those patterns.

    President Monson gave a talk once at General Conference, saying that the patterns are actually pretty much set into place by the time a child is 7 years old.

    The Book of Mormon makes frequent mention of this in regards to the Lamanites and “the traditions of their fathers.” And the Book of Mormon also states, many times, that the Lord is more merciful towards those who sin due to “the traditions of their fathers” than towards those who sin knowingly and willfully (ie, the Nephites).

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