Thank God my husband is too compassionate and egalitarian to criticize this “Day Without a Woman” strike – AKA another day where Matt Walsh is woefully wrong

[A response to this.]

Yesterday was the “Day Without A Woman” strike. The idea was that women were supposed to abandon their jobs, their families and their household duties for the day in order to protest how we elected a man to President who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and how even in 2017 women are still unequal in this country.

As was the case with the Women’s March in January, most of the people involved in this demonstration are VERY sure why they’re involved. They saw their country elect a man who said he could grab their genitals and get away with that, and it makes them feel unsafe, unrepresented, and just plain mad as hell. From my conversations with my fellow feminists who either supported or participated in this strike/boycott/it seems most of them KNOW that they’re speaking out against very real and lived INEQUALITY.  When asked how they’re unequal, they are able to articulate very compelling reasons from their lived experiences of all the little ways every day in which they are marginalized, oppressed, ignored, abused, misrepresented, and devalued by modern society. So for once men have to pick up the slack for women instead of the other way around.

The organizers of this protest had concise, consistent, and articulate messages about what they aimed to accomplish yesterday and their goals for the future. Those goals are very connected to women’s issue’s because women’s rights are human rights.

The official unity principals, which serve as the foundation for yesterday’s strike, include a women’s right to access reproductive health care and have her and her doctor make decisions, not conservative asshats with a blog, LGBTQIA rights, immigrant and refugee rights, and environmental health. It’s clear why these issues were included in the Day Without Women platform because women are affected by every single one of these issues every.single.day.

A few thoughts on today:

1. Serious, productive women have to put up with inequality every day even though they don’t have time for that nonsense

Women do most of the unpaid work in this country, whether that’s raising families or caring for their aging Baby Boomer parents, and are expected to do that work with very little support from their male partners WHILE ALSO WORKING A FULL-TIME JOB.  Because men have the option to opt-out of this work because they know the women in their lives will pick up the slack, ensuring their lives will continue on basically as normal for the most part. When you get the feminist mom demographic to go on strike, you really are grinding the social engine to a halt because feminist moms are raising their children, participating in activism, carrying the loads for their families, and working outside of the home, and boy howdy, do they know how to organize and get shit done.

Days like yesterday make me even more thankful for my husband, who grew up in a generation and religion steeped in patriarchal control and he still rejected gender roles and has chosen to be an egalitarian partner and committed father with great enthusiasm. My husband can’t even say the word “feminist” without feeling so grateful that he has was raised by a strong woman, was taught how to respect women by his father, is the brother to some strong-ass women, is married to a tough-as-nails woman, is raising two daughters to be strong women, and raising two sons to reject patriarchal control and respect the hell out of women.

When I asked him what he was doing to commemorate “A Day Without Women,” he told me he was going to wear red to work, support the women in his office who would like to participate in the action, and donate to causes that directly impact the lives of women. He’s far too much of a grown, mature, adult man, to denigrate women, to mock their protests for more rights, and not support every woman’s effort to gain more equality. And thank God for that.

My recommendation to any young woman discerning marriage: ask your prospective husband how he feels about modern feminism. If he laughs, RUN FOR THE HILLS. The last thing you want is to be married to a misogynist who expects you do all the emotional labor in your family, raise your children with little to no support, while he reaps all the benefits of your hard work and never has to lift a finger. Praise Jesus.

2. This once again benefits the women it’s supposed to help.

Fortunately in the education system, mature feminist Baby Boomers make up a significant percentage of the staff at many public schools, particularly on the east coast. That’s why some of the biggest school systems in America shut down yesterday to accommodate the hundreds of feminists who value their equality and know that fighting for their rights means they are fighting for the rights of their students as well. Again, women’s rights are human rights.

Unfortunately because of lazy and sexist men and their harmful, non-family oriented policies, thousands of working mothers, many of them low income, will be forced to call out of work or shell out money for childcare. The women who would have liked to participate in yesterday’s events and who couldn’t afford to take part in them, will be the ones who pay the price, because men sure as hell won’t. The Patriarchy will keep humming along as normal, oppressing our nation’s women by enacting laws that take away women’s reproductive rights, marginalizing the already oppressed, taking away the rights of trans women to use the bathroom, paying women of color even less than they pay white women, refusing asylum to refugee women, failing to protect women who are currently experiencing domestic or sexual violence, manspreading and mansplaining, while misogynist, conservative men sit in their Ivory towers looking down at women complaining for not using their inside voices like the nice ladies to. As usual.

3. The men married to women need to step up.

Many articles have been written over the past week explaining what men can do to support yesterday’s strike. As it turns out there was and is a lot they could/can do. They can pick up the slack with childcare. They can support  the women in their office if management tries to punish them for their participation. They can march with them and provide security against the men who wish to enact violence to them. If they’re attorneys, they can provide their legal services for free to those women who were arrested for protesting. They can teach their sons and daughters about consent. They can not grab the genitals of other women just because president trump bragged about it. They can speak out whenever a sexist joke or story is told. They can listen to their wives when they tell them about their experiences with inequality AND BELIEVE THEM even if they have never experienced it themselves. These can and should be doing these things today and every day. Sadly, a depressingly low number of men will not do any of these things even though patriarchy hurts them as well. Even sadder, is when women denigrate the work of other women by criticizing their tone or tactics, etc. because women are the gatekeepers of patriarchy and the only real way to have power as a women is through soft power.

Mothers should be supported in self-care and filling up their own well so that they can continue to care for their families. This is called maternal feminism. If that means leaving their family for a whole day as a political statement, what a wonderful role model she is to her children in standing up for her rights.  Workers usually go on strike because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that their employer is oppressing them. If you’re going on strike from your family, is that because your children and husband are oppressing you? PROBABLY. Why isn’t your husband supporting you more? Why are your children expecting you to do everything for  them? Why isn’t every member of your household responsible for the upkeep of that household? Why isn’t your partner being a better parent to your shared children?

I’m so glad that my  husband isn’t a Matt Walsh type. It makes me feel pangs of by-proxy-embarrassment for his wife for allowing their children and herself to be disrespected in this way.

What can a husband do for a wife who wants to go on strike from the family? PICK UP THE FREAKING SLACK. He can show that he is committed to being a better partner by being a leader in changing his actions to be more respectful, accommodating, and supportive of his wife.  He can be a man, in other words.

4. YOU AREN’T EQUAL. DON’T EVER STOP UNTIL YOU ARE.

Women need to absolutely and 100% protest for equal rights because they still do not have equal rights.

  • The Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been passed after 40+ years.
  • Women still make remarkably less on a dollar than the men, and even less if they’re a woman of color.
  • Only 3% of rapes are ever prosecuted and just last year rapists like Kobe Bryant were lauded as heroes because they can put a ball in a basket good.
  • Women cannot hold positions of ministry in many churches.
  • Rapists can sue their victims for custody in most states.
  • About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence, and 75% of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship.
  • The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.
  • Women pay more for common household items than men to. Just ask your shampoo bottle, shaving cream, BIC pen.
  • Women are underrepresented in government. Only 20% of Congress is comprised of women.
  • Women are in the minority in business, accounting for only 17% of board members and 15% C-suit executives, and 5% of CEOS at Fortune 500 companies.
  • Women are the minority in news media.
  • Women still shoulder more of the household burden, much like Matt Walsh’s poor wife. Working moms are more likely to be saddled with childcare duties than working fathers, even if both spouse work equal hours. And they’re also more likely to bear the burden of doing chores around the house.
  • Female soldiers face alarming rates of rape and harassment.
  • Young women experience inequality in high school sports.
  • Retired women are twice as likely as retired men to live in poverty.
  • Women of all age are more likely than men to live below the poverty line especially single mothers with deadbeat ex-spouses who don’t pay child support.
  • In STEM fields, women make up less than 30% of employees.
  • Human trafficking is a crime that vastly affects women.
  • Women suffer the worst when poor water quality and sanitation is jeopardized because of menstruation.
  • There is a luxury tax on tampons, which if you didn’t know, are a necessity not a luxury.
  • 1 in 5 women in the United States have been victims of sexual assault in their lifetime compared to 1 in 71 men.
  • 1 in 7 women have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime compared to 1 in 18 men.
  • 1 in 4 college women are being sexually assaulted before they graduate, forcing them to delay their education or drop out of school, while schools participate in cover ups. We have an epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses.
  • Women face rampant discrimination and harassment in the workforce, like being kept out of leadership roles or certain fields entirely, not being properly accommodated or supported while pregnant or after giving birth, and sexual harassment is a major issue is non-female dominated fields.
  • Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

[Statistics sources here, here, here, and here]

Feminism is the only thing that has ever offered help. This, perhaps more than any other reason, is why everyone should take feminism seriously. Especially today and every day thereafter until there is gender equality for every woman and girl.

Feminist are out there fighting for everyone’s equality. Please join us.

Wonder Woman Risa

I won a drawing last week because I donated to a scholarship that helps single Mormon mothers go back to school. My prize was an artist’s rendition of me however I wanted it. Of course I chose Wonder Woman, the goddess of the Geekiverse.MarissaWonderWomanLG

Thank you to my friend Rune and her crazy awesome artistic talent.  She is the best in every way possible. We’ve had a many a late night convo about Mormon feminism and she is so smart and someone I respect so much. Love you, Rune!

MarissaWonderWomanLG-no-lasso

MarissaWonderWomanSQ

How I really feel…

As a child my mother worked very hard to teach me to be an independent person. She came from the era that women couldn’t rent an apartment, buy a house, hold a credit card or bank account in their name without a father or husband’s consent. She wanted her children to be able to take care of themselves once they left her home. My mother and father both had childhoods where they had to work hard and they both grew up with a good worth ethic. They never wanted to have children who were helpless.

It was because of this I learned that when it comes to my actions, my thoughts, my words…I am responsible for myself.

It’s because of this belief that I’m really tired of the lie that gets told in (mostly) religious cultures that says men are so base, vile, and corrupt that they cannot control themselves when it comes to their sexual passions. And because of this we women must cover ourselves up so as to not excite these men because they can’t help themselves. And if they do help themselves, it must be the woman’s fault, right? Wrong.

This idea isn’t new. The Victorians were so proper, a glimpse of an ankle was provocative. In some Muslim countries women are forced to be covered all over with burquas. Apparently in American religious contemporary society, a picture of a teenage girl not wearing a bra on Facebook is so shocking a mother has to write a shaming post about it telling these girls to keep away from her sons. The subtext being these sons are in no way capable of moderating their own reactions and mommy must do it for them.

Am I crazy to think that men are human beings and, therefore, capable of controlling themselves? Millions of men walk around this planet every day who are able to restrain their sexual passions and not act out on every sexual impulse that invades their brain. You’ll have to excuse me for not thinking that all men are just potential rapists waiting for the right trigger. The reason why I give men so much credit is because I know too many wonderful ones who are able to control themselves.

I think there comes a time in all of our lives when we realize that the only person we can control is ourselves. We can’t make people dress or act in the way we want them to. We can’t make them cater to our desires. We can’t make women cover up so as to not entice heterosexual men. Heterosexual men are going to be attracted to women that they are attracted to no matter what they wear. And, if I might add, how very self-centered of anyone to think that everyone else should cater to them.

I hope, with all sincerity that if a mother of teenage sons sees a girl on Facebook posting a “selfie” she finds provocative, she teaches her sons to control their own passions. Once they leave her home they are responsible for themselves. They need to be able to conduct themselves around women with propriety and respect. The way she does this is by teaching her sons that girls are human beings. Like Nate Pyle says, they need to be able to “see” women as human beings regardless of what they’re wearing.

The world doesn’t revolve around one single person (no matter how much Donald Trump wished it did) and we can’t expect people to be perfect and never make mistakes. I’m bothered by anyone who states that someone doesn’t get a second chance with them and then proclaims to be a Christian. I’m so grateful for the people who have given me a second chance. I  know that there are some people who will never give me a second chance, and that’s fine. That’s their loss. But I want everyone to know, you’ll always have a second chance with me. (Unless you continue to try to hurt me or someone I love. I do have boundaries).

“Jesus wasn’t about perfection. He was all about redemption. He said that he didn’t come to save the righteous, but the fallen. He gathered around him the prostitutes, tax collectors, and other ‘broken’ members of society and delighted in their company, not in the company of the self-righteous pharisees who stood on street corners exhibiting to the world how ‘perfectly’ they kept the letter of the law.” -Lorian Franklin Dunlop (someone I’m lucky to call a friend)

There might be people in this world who look at teenagers on social media and judge them as not worth their time based on a “selfie” they posted. They might decide that their sons or daughters shouldn’t be allowed to interact with these people any more. They might decide that these kids don’t ever deserve a second chance. They might feel superior to these kids because “they’re so perfect.” I’d like to remind them of my friend’s Lorian’s words and know that how you treat “the least of these” is a reflection of your character, not theirs.

That’s right, teenage girls who were shamed on the internet this week for daring to take a picture of yourself with pouty duck lips, what anyone has said or written about you is a reflection of their character, not yours.

And so I leave you with this, as my children go out into this world I want them to know that they are only in control of themselves. And if someone can’t get past the way their body looks enough to see the person behind the body, (their sparkling personalities, their wicked senses of humor, the kindness they show to others) and only seeks to make a sexual object out of them, that sin is not on their heads. There is no way that they dress or act that can cause someone else to sin. None. They are only the guardians of their own virtue, not anyone else’s.

Because Jesus.

sunset friends

Like a Girl

I’m really, really tired of the fact that being called a girl or a woman is the worst insult you can throw at a boy or a man. There is nothing shameful about being a girl and a woman, so why is it so insulting to be called one?

I was thinking about this recently when I was watching “The Sandlot” with my kids. I triple love that movie and part of it was filmed in my hometown. I’ve loved that movie for 20 years, but there is one part that has always bothered me. When Ham is trading insults back and forth with the rival baseball team his penultimate insult is to tell the other player that, “you play ball like a girl!” Everyone is shocked! How dare he go there? THAT WAS THE WORST DIS IN THE HISTORY OF TIME!!!

What does that even mean? This movie is set in the 1950s during a time where America had a professional girl’s baseball team. Shouldn’t playing ball like a girl be a compliment since back then there were professional female ball players and they were just kids in a sandlot?

There is a company in Salt Lake called Pick n’ Pull and they have rather annoying radio commercials. In one of their commercials the two guys in the ad are arguing over telling each other’s secrets. One of them shouts out at the end the other guy used to ride a girl’s bicycle that was pink. So what? What about him riding a “girl’s” bicycle as a child should be embarrassing or shaming? He got to ride a bike as a child. Congratulations, you’re richer than 90% of the world’s population.

Speaking of bikes, my son rode his sister’s bike to school the 2nd day of school because his scooter is broken and he didn’t want to walk. He was mercilessly teased on the way home. He came home bawling his face off because people were so mean to him about riding a “girl’s” bike. My daughter’s bike is black and just has a tiny butterfly sticker on it. Why the hell does it matter so much what bike he rode to school? Why is supposed to be so humiliating for a boy to ride or have anything remotely feminine? The sickening thing was that the child who teased him the most was a girl. It makes me sad that at a young age she is internalized the message that being a girl is wrong and shameful and she should attempt to humiliate any boy who does anything remotely feminine. It makes me so angry.

I’m still trying to figure out what “like a girl” even means! One time this kid told me I ran like a girl. My response? “Good because I AM a girl, dumbass.” Why was this kid trying to insult me by saying that something I was doing was feminine? What is so wrong with being feminine? What is wrong with being a girl? What is wrong with being a woman?

NOTHING!!!!

So, dear culture at large: stop trying to insult boys and men by saying they are girls. It’s not an insult to be a girl. Stop calling them names like the p-word that rhymes with wussy and all the other “delightful” euphemisms for female reproductive parts.  There is NOTHING wrong with being a girl. There is nothing wrong with being feminine. There is nothing weak about being a girl. There is nothing shameful about being a girl. There is nothing wrong with having a vagina and the ability to bring forth life. That, my dear, is the very essence of strength. (Pop 4 kids out of your reproductive parts and we’ll talk about whether you can use the p-word as another word for being weak, bucko).

So boys and men, next time you’re insulted by being called a girl or a woman, think about why. Think about it. Sit with it for a minute.  Is it because our culture has sold you the lie that it is shameful to be feminine? That it is shameful to be a woman? The culture is wrong. The culture is misogynistic and hates women, otherwise being called one wouldn’t be such an insult to you. Just like being a more masculine woman is not insulting. One gender is not better than the other (I’m totally aware of intersexed and transsexual people, but I’m talking generally here and I could write a whole other post about why transwomen are more likely to be killed and/or hurt because of transitioning to a female).

Next time someone tries to insult you by saying you’re “like a girl” in some respect, turn around and say “thank you!’ Because there it nothing wrong with being a girl. Nothing. And I refuse to let my children grow up in a world where being half the population is considered an insult.

 

 

Why I AM a Feminist, part 2

Almost 3 years ago (March 2010) I read a post by the infamous Mormon Mommy blogger, cJane Kendrick, about why she is not a feminist.  It inspired to me write my own post about why I do identify as a feminist, but it took me 15 months to write.  On Monday cJane published a post about why she now realizes that she is a feminist and why she claims that title.  She cites growing up believing boys were better than girls, her abusive first marriage, and working out an egalitarian marriage with her current spouse that has helped her evolve her views in her life.

How I came to feminism was much, much different than cJane’s.  I didn’t grow up believing boys were better than girls.  In fact, both my parents strove hard to teach me that boys are not better than girls, girls are not better than boys, and that girls were every bit as capable and smart as boys are.  My mom worked for the federal government in Washington D.C. for 10 years and was the first woman to go against dress code and wear a pantsuit to work.  My dad was raised by a strong, hard-working woman and has three very smart and capable sisters and has always shown that he believes in equality of the sexes (and by equality I mean of equal worth).  Because of my parents, I was raised to believe that I could be and do anything I wanted.  The truly shocking thing for me was going out into the world (you know, the cold harsh world of elementary school) and having people treat me like I wasn’t as smart, capable, and strong as the boys because I was a girl.  And this has pretty much continued whenever I have left the safety of home and family my entire life.  Like the boy who laughed at me at church because I said my dad was at home doing laundry, (“boys don’t do laundry, you idiot!  That’s a girl’s job”), or my Geometry teacher who on the first day of  my sophomore year explained to the class that us girls should expect a lower grade than the boys because girls’ brains just can’t compute Math the way that boys’ do, or when I was expected to do the dishes in my cooking class because I was the resident keeper of that magical vagina that makes dish washing possible, or when I got into the adult world and found out people’s expectations of me were based on my gender and not on my capabilities or interests.

Feminism to me has always been about choice.  In cJane’s article she talks about the growing pains she and her husband went through when figuring out parenting responsibilities and that ultimately they have a system now that works for both of them and respects and honors each other’s life paths.  That is great for her and shouldn’t we all be allowed to decide what is best for us and our families without some 3rd party trying to enforce gender roles or what they think the “ideal” is on us?  Shouldn’t my husband and I get to decide together that both of our educations and careers are important to us and work together to support each other in pursuing those things?  While co-parenting, while sharing household responsibilities, while being partners to each other?  Why should my life fit into some box because someone else said so?  And if someone wants to pursue a more traditional path, shouldn’t they be allowed to do that without judgment?

In my last post about why I’m a feminist, I listed some reasons why (and I apologize because switching to WordPress from Blogger made it so it did not format the same and it’s not as pleasing to the eye as before).  Here are more reasons I have accrued in the last year and a half.

  • Because a 14 year old in Pakistan named Malala Yousfzai was shot by the Taliban on October 9, 2012 for demanding to be a girl and receive an education.  
  • Because I read Half the Sky this year and it changed my life.
  • Because I care that women are being sold into sexual slavery all over the world, including my own country, like they are chattel and not real human beings with real lives, emotions, and pain.  They are treated like objects of someone else’s base pleasure and discarded and used like trash.
  • Because this past election season men like Todd Akin (R-MO), Richard Mourdock (R-IN), Roger Rivard (R – WI), Joe Walsh (R-IL), Tom Smith (R-PA), John Koster (R-WA), and Paul Ryan (R-WI), made some horrifically awful statements about rape, pregnancy, and women.  But what restores my faith in humanity are the voters who turned out in droves to tell these men to stop talking about rape and women’s bodies like we’re too stupid to understand science, fact, research, and duh, our own life experiences.
  • Because a 20 year old newly married girl with no life experience told my sister-in-law she wasn’t doing the right thing for her child by working full-time and going to school.  Because 20 year old newly married people with no children and no life experience should be considered the experts on what’s best for individual children and their families.
  • Because I’m tired of man splainers trying to tell me what I really mean, what my experiences really are, and what I should think and feel and believe and say and do.  Stop it, man splainers…it’s really old.
  • Because it really bothers me that at McDonalds my kids can’t just have “the toy” they have to say whether they want the “boy toy” or “girl toy” as if toys had genders and it is only acceptable for boys to play with one type of toy and girls another.
  • Because I should be able to leave my house and not worry about being sexually assaulted, but that’s just not a reality for women.
  • Because 11 year old girls (little girls) are being blamed for being gang raped.
  • Because I am a human being with autonomy over my own body, thoughts, feelings, experiences, knowledge and I allow all other human beings domain over their own lives as well.
  • Because I’m a child of Heavenly parents who love me and my sisters just as much as they love their sons.

So, I have to say brava to cJane.  Not because she came out as a feminist and all, because I read her blog regardless of how she self-identifies, but because she is a famous Mormon woman who has been speaking her truth a lot recently (her political leanings, her abusive first marriage) and it takes a lot of courage to speak your truth and let people say what they will about it. It’s not easy to have a big platform that reaches an audience of hundreds of thousands and invite them all to judge you.

Rock Center on NBC: Mormons in America

On Thursday, August 23, 2012, NBC’s news program, anchored by Brian Williams, featured an entire hour on “Mormons in America.”  Knowing that two of my friends, Joanna Brooks and Mitch Mayne, were going to be interviewed I was very excited to watch it.  However, I approached it with a lot of apprehension because you just never know how the media is going to examine your faith.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, here are the five segments of the show.

I came away from the program delightfully surprised.  I was a teenager when then-President of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley, was interviewed by Mike Wallace.  It felt like as Mormons we all held our collective breath.  President Hinckley came off as warm, funny, genuine, sweet, and he made all of us proud.  But because we Mormons, as a collective group, are so used to being criticized (I’ve read it all, we’re a cult, not-Christian, devil worshipers, robots, etc.), we all get a little uptight when we’re put in the media spotlight.  And boy, are we ever in the media spotlight right now as Mitt Romney is about to accept the Republican party’s nomination for President, and become the first Mormon ever to be nominee for a major political party.  Phew, it’s kind of nerve-wracking for us American Mormons who only make up 2% of the country’s population.
So, I thought I’d dissect this piece done by Rock Center and tell you what I liked and what I didn’t like.  Saying that, I have to say that the positives far outweigh the negatives and I felt like the producers and Brian  Williams did an amazingly balanced piece.
What I did like

-Finding out the man who started Jet Blue is a Mormon.  I never realized that and they are by far my favorite airline.  The entire first piece made Mormons seem very successful, hard-working, showed how serving a mission prepares us to be hard workers, and pointed out that we pay for our missions ourselves.
-Section two presented church history (while not accurately) with a fair shake.  It did not make us Mormons seem like big weirdos, instead it pointed out that every religion has it’s fantastical stories, thereby normalizing us.
-Polygamy was basically glossed over and the church historian, Elder Steven Snow, made it a point to say the church stopped practicing polygamy after a revelation received by then prophet, Wilford Woodruff, in 1890, just in case anyone out there still believes that main stream Mormons practice plural marriage.   They could have gotten into some heavy Mormon history that isn’t very flattering (Joseph Smith’s practice of plural marriage without the consent and knowledge of his wife Emma, anyone?)  Instead, the program spent barely a minute on it and let a church authority explain it instead of someone very anti-Mormon, which they could have done.
-The talked about the priesthood ban for African Americans prior to 1978, but then asked an African American man how he felt about it.  Again, kudos for going to the person who would know his experience best.
-I loved the third section, which featured modern Mormon families.  I loved how the bi-racial family was presented as funny, normal, nice, and really good parents.  When asked if the father, who is African American, ever experienced discrimination in the church, he said never.  (Oh, how I wish the same could be said for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the Gospel).  The family talked about their standards, like the Word of Wisdom, without seeming preachy or judgmental.  They talked about their garments, and even made a joke about them, “Magic underwear,” which made them seem down to earth.
-Featuring my friends Joanna Brooks and Mitch Mayne were big thrills for me.  I liked how with Joanna they addressed Mormon feminism, without making it seem like all Mormon women feel the same way. However, knowing Joanna I know she had a lot of great things to say and what they showed was highly edited.  Mitch Mayne is someone I look up to a lot.  He has the most beautiful testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and shows more courage and dignity on a daily basis than most people get to show in a lifetime.  He is Executive Secretary in his ward and is out-spoken on what it means to be both gay and Mormon.  As my brother said on Facebook (I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting), “Mitch Mayne is a class act and more courageous than I could ever imagine being.  Every ward needs a Mitch Mayne.”  I agree.  
-I loved how the third segment, by featuring Joanna and Mitch, showed that Mormons are not a homogeneous group and there is a diversity of thought among us. It showed that we’re not some cult where every one dresses, acts, thinks, behaves, and says the same things.  We’re all individuals and we have individual experiences.  
-I liked how Abby Huntsman shared her experience on marrying a non-Mormon and having her Bishop tell her that if she married him that she would not be blessed.  This is her true experience and it highlights the pain that those of us in part-member families often experience.  I could write a whole post alone and how hurtful it can be not to have your whole family included in your religion ceremonies, but I won’t delve into that now.  She was able to share her experience without seeming hateful or bitter.  I didn’t like how they called her a “former Mormon” because until she has her records removed from the church, she is still a member.  My mother was inactive for 26 years, but was still a member that entire time.
-I love, Loved, LOVED the fourth section on the Welfare Department and all that it does to help members and non-members alike.  I wish they had also visited the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake and had shown all the projects that go on there and how far-reaching church aid and humanitarian efforts are.  I didn’t even start realizing the extent of the charitable arm of the church until I started working in the same buildings as the Bishop’s Storehouse, LDS Employment Services, and Deseret Industries.  They left out my department of Welfare services which provides clinical counseling to members and non-members, pregnancy counseling and adoption services, but I can live with that.
-I thought it was odd they ended with a gay former-Mormon now starring in Broadway’s musical, “The Book of Mormon” but can understand why since it has been such a popular musical and won several Tony awards. What I did like about that segment?  They showed a former Mormon who had very positive things to say about his former church.  He teared up when talking about his mission experience and obviously has very fond memories of his time in the mission field.  He talked about his parents being missionaries and how they love and accept him even though he has left the fold.  I mean, if they wanted to feature some really bitter, hateful, anti-Mormon ex-Mormons they could have found them easily. They didn’t and the ending piece was very positive.

What I didn’t like

-The entire first section about successful Mormons was completely devoid of any females.  What about Sherry Dew who is CEO of Deseret Book?  There are plenty of successful females in the Mormon church, but they were not featured.  Also, it only showed footage of male Mormon missionaries.  Many, many Mormon females serve missions which prepare them to be leaders and successful once they are home.  They presented the Mormon experience as a uniquely “male” one while leaving out completely what the female Mormon experience is like.
-In the second section, the church history was a little “off.”  The church didn’t start when the angel Moroni came to Joseph Smith and told him where a set of golden plates were buried which would become The Book of Mormon, another book of our Scriptures (Mormons also believe in and read the Old and New Testaments). Although Mormons do believe that this did occur, the church started when a 14 year old Joseph Smith went into a grove a trees on his family farm and prayed about which church to join.  During this time of American history the country was on religious fire and tent revivals were very common.  Smith wanted to know which of these churches was most accurate after reading James 1:5:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, 
that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him.

Mormons believe at this time God, the Father, and his son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Smith and told him not to join any of the churches.  It would be a few more years before Smith was visited by the angel Moroni.
– I could have done without the shot of the temple garments.  I don’t think the producers realized how offensive that would be to devout Mormons.  We regard our garments as sacred and as a symbol of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  However, I’ve seen that picture before on the internet (just google Mormon and garments and you can see a lot of pictures, even temple clothing).  So, maybe they didn’t realize it was such a big deal when anyone has access to what they look like online.  The probably should have checked with someone before showing them.
-They  made it seem like all Mormons don’t drink caffeine because Sister Jackson said she didn’t.  Most Mormons I know drink their caffeine in soft drink form (never coffee) and it’s only the incredibly devout who don’t.  No one has taken my temple recommend away yet for drinking Mnt Dew on a regular basis.
-I wish they would have showed more of Joanna Brooks and Mitch Mayne because they both have a lot of great things to say, but that’s only because I love them both so much.  
-They shouldn’t have asked Abby Huntsman all the questions they did.  Some of those questions would have better served the program by asking a General Authority, or even better yet, former General Relief Society President, Julie B. Beck, those questions.  However, she did the best she could with what she knew and it kind of made sense they’d want to interview the daughter of a former Presidential candidate. 
***
I was literally on a high after watching Rock Center, feeling incredibly proud of the way my faith was portrayed.  Which is why I was shocked, shocked, to log on to Facebook afterwards and see so many of my Mormon friends criticizing it.  Really?  Yeah, there were so good points and a few uncomfortable ones, but overwhelmingly it was positive.  More positive than I expected.  I would write what I think but Scott D. Pierce already wrote something for the Salt Lake Tribune that says virtually everything I want to say.  You can access that here.  My favorite part of what he said was this: 
Of course, there has been some negative reaction to the hour.  No surprise here.  Because an attempt to do actual journalism about the church  means talking to at least a few people who aren’t big fans.  But, in some quarters, anything that’s not glowing praise is viewed as an unwarranted attack. Calm down. It wasn’t.

I find the persecution complex among some Mormons to be so tiring.  I get it, our ancestors were driven away from their homes, some were killed, they had to cross the plains, the Missouri Governor issued an extermination order for Mormons, the government forced us to give up polygamy, they martyred our prophet, and other really bad things.  But this isn’t the 19th century anymore and Rock Center’s program wasn’t Haun’s Mill.  And I find it also annoying when anything that is said about the church isn’t 100% dripping with the utmost admiration for the organization, people call it an attack, even if what is said is true.  Stop it.  Victimhood looks good on no one.  And furthermore, you’re the ones who make Mormons look bad, not whoever is saying whatever you don’t think isn’t flowering and complimentary enough about the church.  
Another thing that also does not speak well of us, when we’re so desperately trying to prove that we are Christian, are those Mormons who have been sending hate mail to people like Abby Huntsman and Joanna Brooks.  For someone who left the church after a hurtful experience with her Bishop, sending Huntsman a hateful e-mail is not going to make her change her mind and suddenly come back to church.  If they’re trying to prove they’re better than her, well they failed.  Love and fellowship is what brings people back to the church; not hate and disdain.  Also, people tweeted that Joanna Brooks should be excommunicated for talking about female ordination.  What the what?  This is something Christian women have wrestled with for 2,000 years, her giving a voice to it (when she made it clear that only *some* Mormon feminists feel this way and she has not personally struggled with women not being ordained) does not mean she should be forced to leave the church.  And who are you to have the audacity to suggest someone be excommunicated, Mr./Ms. Hate Tweeter?  Calling out your sister in the Gospel in that way is just about the least Christ-like reaction you could have.  You can read Joanna’s reaction here.  I also read some comments online at NBC’s website by members disavowing Mitch Mayne and saying that gay people cannot hold positions of authority in the church.  Well, I’m here to rock your world because, as I said above, Mitch is the Executive Secretary in his ward. His bishop specifically asked him to serve in that function to help more gay members, disaffected by Prop 8 since he does live in California, to feel more welcome in church.  You can find Mitch’s amazing, beautiful, spiritual blog here.  
I feel that Rock Center’s piece was fair and over-whelming positive, when it could have gone in a whole other direction.  If the goal was to humanize and normalize Mormons, it succeeded.  Mormons came off as intelligent, successful, charitable, diverse, and just plain old regular folk.  And Mitt Romney should be thanking them for the great PR job they did for him, especially when Brian Williams asked Harry Smith asked if he could see Romney as a Bishop, helping and leading his congregation and he said yes, well anyone planning on voting for Romney should see that as a win.  I’ve heard from several of my non-Mormon friends who have said that Rock Center was so positive that Mitt should just show it on the election trail.  If you want Mitt to win, why are you complaining?