Violence Survivor Empowerment Program
The Avon Foundation for Women for the second year in a row has awarded a $65,000 one-year grant to Sojourner Family Peace Center in support of its Avon Domestic Violence Survivor Empowerment Program, which provides annual funding for 20 full-time coordinator positions in domestic violence agencies across the United States.
The 2013 Avon Domestic Violence Survivor Empowerment Program is part of the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence initiative, which launched in 2004 to help end the cycle of domestic violence. The Avon Foundation for Women has donated $33 million for domestic and gender violence programs in the United States, including support for awareness, education, direct service and prevention.
The Avon Domestic Violence Survivor Empowerment Program’s coordinator position at Sojourner Family Peace Center will support victims in the Milwaukee area by providing domestic violence survivors with the critical resources and economic empowerment tools necessary to develop self-sufficiency and guide them toward breaking the cycle of abuse.
Maggie Anderson (second from left), the founder of “The Empowerment Experiment” and the author of “Our Black Year,” which chronicles the year she and her family purchased exclusively from Black businesses, was the keynote speaker of the Milwaukee Urban League’s 53rd Equal Opportunity Day Luncheon held recently at the Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. Anderson is pictured above with (left to right) MUL Board Chairman Jerry Fulmer, Dr. Eve Hall, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce and MUL President/CEO Ralph Hollman. The luncheon is an event that helps reinforce the importance of diversity and equal opportunity. It also generates funds which help support all the organization’s programs. You can read about Anderson’s visit and her experiences as a consumer of all things Black in next week’s MCJ. (Photo by Yvonne Kemp)
Clinical depression—in women or men—can cause sadness and a loss of interest in once pleasurable activities. But depression can sometimes manifest in different ways in different people.
While the symptoms used to diagnose depression are the same regardless of gender, often the chief complaint can be different among men and women.
You can’t go after one symptom, but instead have to assess a group of symptoms. Here are signs of depression in men.
Although men don’t always talk about feelings of depression, depression in men is common. Learn about the symptoms of clinical or major depression in men
Instead of seeming down, men who are depressed often show signs of irritability. If they talk about an emotional component, it could be sadness with irritability. In addition, negative thoughts are a common aspect of depression. Men will report feeling irritable because they are having negative thoughts constantly.
Men might be more likely to report symptoms of depression as stress. It’s not that they have more stress; it’s that it’s more socially acceptable to report it. Stress and depression can also travel a two-way street. It’s accurate to say that feeling stressed can be an indicator of having clinical depression but also be part of the cause. Research has shown that prolonged exposure to stress can lead to changes both in the body and brain, which can in turn lead to depression.
Anger or hostility
Some men manifest depression by being hostile, angry, or aggressive. A man who realizes something is wrong may need to compensate by demonstrating that he is still strong or capable. Anger and hostility are different than irritability. Anger tends to be a stronger emotion. Irritability is a crankiness. Men can also become hostile when they have withdrawn as a result of their depression and feel under pressure by friends or family to rejoin society.
Depression is a common reason for loss of desire and erectile dysfunction (ED), and it’s one symptom that men are inclined not to report. Performance problems can come from depression and make depression worse. However, ED can be the result of other medical conditions or medications (including antidepressants), and ED by itself does not signal depression.
Substance abuse frequently accompanies depression. Research has shown that alcoholics are almost twice as likely to suffer from major depression as people without a drinking problem. It can happen for both men and women, but using drugs or alcohol to mask uncomfortable feelings is a strategy many men will employ instead of seeking health care. There’s a cultural bias of, ‘I should be able to fix this myself and so I’ll use what chemicals I have available to me to do that.
Psychomotor retardation can slow down a man’s ability to process information, thereby impairing concentration on work or other tasks. Depression fills one with negative thoughts, almost like an intrusion. You’re slowed down and constantly thinking about negative things in your world. As a result it makes it very difficult to focus on anything. Depression is as a form of reversible brain failure.
People who are depressed undergo a series of physical and emotional changes. They can experience fatigue, as well as psychomotor retardation, or a slowing down of physical movements, speech, and thought processes. Men are more likely than women to report fatigue and other physical symptoms of depression as their chief complaints.
Sleeping too much or too little
Sleep problems—such as insomnia, waking up very early in the morning, or excessive sleeping—are common depression symptoms. [Some people] sleep 12 hours a day and still feel exhausted or toss and turn and wake up every two hours.
Like fatigue, sleep troubles are one of the main symptoms that depressed men may discuss with their doctor, experts say.
Stomachache or backache
Health problems such as constipation or diarrhea, as well as headaches and back pain, are common in people who are depressed. But men often don’t realize that chronic pain and digestive disorders go hand in hand with depression, according to focus groups conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. People who are depressed do genuinely feel bad physically.
Article courtesy of the Baltimore Afro-American
Nearly 4.6 million African-Americans hold a four-year college degree, a new high, but a large racial gap in degree attainment still exists and does not appear to be shrinking, according to a report in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The Journal also found that an overwhelming majority of these Black college graduates are women.
As of November 2009, 2,670,000 Black women hold four-year degrees or higher levels of academic achievement, according to the Journal, compared to 1,909,000 Black men, and represent 58 percent of all Black students earning a bachelor’s degree.
Likewise, Black women are earning master’s degrees at higher rates than Black men, with 669,000 Black women holding advanced degrees compared to 409,000 Black men. However, Black men continue to lead Black women in the number of professional degrees, such as those in medicine and law, according to the Journal. Roughly 88,000 Black men have professional degrees, compared to 62,000 Black women.
Despite the disparities between Black men and women, African-Americans as a demographic seem to be making positive strides in higher education compared to previous generations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 3,215,000 Blacks nationwide have bachelor’s degrees, and another 1,078,000 Blacks hold a four-year college degree and a master’s. A total of 150,000 Blacks have professional degrees and another 136,000 African American hold doctorates. These numbers show tremendous progress in the Black community, according to the Journal report; in the 1920s, only approximately 10,000 American Blacks were college-educated.
by Sarah Westlake, PostScript’d
Black Woman Redefined will be released in paperback Nov. 20, with new essays and an interview with The First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama. In this book, Sophia Nelson lays waste to the age-old stereotypes of black women as angry, loud-mouthed, and out of shape by creating new images through letters and essays. Her goal is to show another side and perhaps recreate, reinvent, and redefine what it means to be a black woman.
“Too many of us have been living in the shadows of how others have mis-defined us as black women
since slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights era and even now,” said Nelson. “It’s time for us to take care of us first instead of taking care of everyone else, as we far too often do. It’s time to change the game in a new century, for a new outcome.”
P.S.: What was the genesis of Black Woman Redefined? Why did you write this book?
SN: The book had two beginnings, if you will. The first was when I started to outline the project in 2006. I had created this wonderful sister organization called “I Am My Sister’s Keeper” in 2004 in my home with about 12-14 friends. And it grew into hundreds of black professional women, then thousands of subscribers globally just by speaking a message of what it is that we as black women were facing, how we were not coping well emotionally, relationally, financially, and even spiritually. All while keeping up a brave front but literally dying from stress related diseases, depression, loneliness, isolation, and career challenges that we could not talk about in the open without feeling vulnerable in a not so good way.
But when the Obamas came on the scene in 2008, specifically Michelle Obama when she was attacked as “an angry black woman,” I penned an op-ed for the Washington Post that went viral. It was a game changer; I reshaped my idea of what I wanted to say to the world about us as a new generation of educated, accomplished, savvy black women. I landed a book deal, and the rest was, as they say, history.
P.S.: What was the message you wanted to leave your reader with?
SN: Well, the message for all readers is that black women are not these angry, unkind, foul-mouthed, strident, obese, broken, ugly people that we are far too often still caricatured as, even in the age of our fabulous First Lady Michelle Obama.
Look at last year, Psychology Today said black women were the least attractive group of women. ABC did a show on why successful black women can’t get a man. I could go on and on, but no need. We all know that stereotypes aren’t funny when they follow you everywhere. As for black women, the message I want us to take away is that you are either defining or redefining your life for all of your life. It’s a journey. So embrace the journey by embracing the authentic, true YOU. Do YOU.
P.S.: How long did it take you to write this book?
SN: It took me more than 5 years from start to finish, with various versions of the manuscript, editor rewrites, and the research, which took one year after we commissioned The Polling Company and Dr. Silas Lee & Associates for the black male research component that I felt was important.
P.S.: How did you select the women to feature in this book?
SN: The hardcover version and paperback (which is new) feature different women at the end of the book in the essay/wisdom section. But Mrs. Obama is the one consistent feature. I open the book with an open letter to her. In the paperback, I have an interview in that letter that I did with her last April at the White House. The other consistent woman I featured was the late Dr. Dorothy Height. She was to pen an essay for the first edition in 2011, but she passed away in 2010 before her essay was completed.
The other women and men featured are all names we know, and some we need to know. They are the living embodiment of how to properly define, and redefine one’s life. I looked for people who have been solid, resilient, caring, successful, compassionate, coupled, divorced, single, married, mothers, husbands, aunts, uncles, etc. I looked for people who truly represent the depth and diversity of who we are as a black community in the 21st century.
P.S:. Why is this topic so important? Do black women really need redefining in 2012?
SN: It is important for one reason: we as black women have been wrongly defined and stereotyped and it has cost us dearly in terms of our self worth, self-love. We are women who carry a lot of pain inside of our hearts and bodies. It shows in all the health indices from heart disease, to high-blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, fibroids cancer, obesity, and more. And yes, we need to REDEFINE ourselves for ourselves as Zora Neale Hurston once said.
P.S.: What about white women, Asian women, Hispanic women? How is the plight of black women so different?
SN: That is such an important and deep question, which I do address at great length in chapters 1 and 2 at the outset of the book. In order to understand your present you must deal with your past. It is a simple rule of life and of history. My opening sentence of the book about us as black women is: ”Some say we have conquered the world as accomplished black women, I say we have YET to conquer ourselves.”
All successful journeys start with self-assessment and self conquering of weaknesses, faults, issues we may be in denial about. This book met with great resistance from older black women who did not want me to air our “dirty laundry,” to mainstream media, morning shows and white women hosts that normally love to focus on books about women, women’s progress, healing, coaching, etc. But they passed on this book because they felt (I was told this by several people) that it was controversial, or that they had a hard time relating to the premise of the book and why it mattered so much to the “rest of America.”
It was hurtful to me on many levels. This book has also been passed over by many of my fellow sisters who have platforms and could promote the positive message contained therein but instead they will interview a NeNe Leakes or an Evelyn Lozado because they get ratings. It is what it is. I am candidly not worried about what others think of why I wrote this or if it applies to them or not.
This book is our story, told by us, about by and for us. If only people know the hell (and I use that term on purpose) I went through to see this book through. We as black women are still invisible, despite Oprah’s and Mrs. Obama’s successes and the 2012 election proves this. There’s not one black woman elected to the U.S. Senate (there will be 19 women serving in the Senate in 2013). Not one in the governor’s mansion. We are not in the seats of power in corporate America, politics, industry, or in academia.
Sure a few of us have made it, but not enough of us given the enormous pool of talent that we have with sisters holding JDs, PHDs, MBAs, etc. Women is still defined as “white women.” Be clear on that because I am. And it’s why I wrote this very important book. I needed the next generation of young black women to know they count, they matter, and they are worthy.
P.S.: List 3 women who have inspired you?
SN: My mother, Sandria Nelson, is my one true thing in this world. She is self-educated; she went back to school when she was almost 30 years old after being a mom and housewife for years, and got her RN degree. She knew she needed to better herself. She was raised old-school by a preacher (my great granddaddy) and she was poor, abused, and at times orphaned with her two younger brothers. She overcame a lot in her life. And I have never seen that woman be unkind a day in my life. She is truly a Godly woman. I like to think the best of me came from her. I am very different than she in many ways, but her heart, compassion and love for people I got 100% for better or worst. Sometimes I am not sure if it is a gift or a curse (laughs).
Second would be the late Shirley Chisholm. She was unbought and unbossed as she penned in her autobiography. She was a true trailblazer, before her time. I met her when I was about 24 years old, and we became pen pals. She was such an inspiration to me because she was feisty, fierce, and fabulous. She was the real deal, strong, authentic, and a committed black woman that some of us need to get back to for real. We have gotten away from being ”sisters” in its truest form. We need more Shirleys.
Lastly, our First Lady Michelle Obama. I adore her. I think I have a girl crush on her (laughs)–I mean, come on, she is in the subtitle of my book, and I open with a very personal letter to her on behalf of the sisterhood. Seriously, though, I have met her, sat with her, interviewed her and she is 100% REAL! What you see is what you get. She is fit, fine, fun, and fierce in her style. She is fabulous in her nature, and focused when it comes to her priorities like her husband and her daughters. She is a living, breathing role model to all young black girls, teens, and women.
But more than that (Michelle Obama) is a role model to all young women that you can, in fact, have it all. You can be educated, accomplished, smart, successful, married to a great (somewhat successful guy–laughs), physically fit into your late 40s, a great mom, wife, daughter, friend, and champion of great causes, like our military veterans and our nation’s fitness and well being.
A sign explains the high risk of breast cancer for African-American women at the fifth annual American Cancer Society 5K Walk to raise funds to fight breast cancer October 28, 2001 in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
by Associated Press
Atlanta (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women are.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American women, but the CDC’s Ileana Arias says black women have “unacceptably high” death rates. She says they have the “highest death rates from breast cancer among all racial and ethnic groups.”
Arias says many lives could be saved each year with proper screening and treatment, stressing the importance of educating black women to coverage provided by the new health care law, including mammograms without co-pays in many health plans.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has become much more accustomed to the culture and religion of Middle Eastern and North African countries. One sharp difference is the role of half of that region’s population: girls and women.
“Unfortunately for many Muslims, half of their human capital is repressed or completely silenced, and many academics and reporters who are knowledgeable about the region cite this one fact for lack of progress there,” says Richard E. Kelly, a self-described “survivor” of Jehovah’s Witness.
“But many of us here in the West also come from a religious tradition that has repressed women, and some Christian sects remain faithful to ancient, Old Testament dogmas.”
In the New Testament, gospel writers clearly show Jesus to be a non-sexist, pro-woman figure, says Kelly, www.richardekelly.com, author of “Growing Up in Mama’s Club: A Childhood Perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses” and its sequel, “The Ghosts from Mama’s Club.” Christians are forced to choose between two points of view on women – that represented by the four Gospel writers in the New Testament and the teachings of the Old. Unfortunately, the latter too often prevails, he says.
“Because we are a pluralistic society that respects differing religious perspectives, we are sometimes afraid to be frank about certain beliefs,” says Kelly, who escaped the “cult” of Jehovah’s Witness as a young man.
Women, who are viewed as being below men, but above animals, in the faith are the most negatively affected by ancient beliefs, he says. Kelly reviews why religions should update their take on women:
• The whole world is watching: In what may be the most stubbornly religious part of the world, rural Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, 15, may be doing more than all military campaigns to turn the tide of Islamic extremism in the Middle East. Yousafzai was shot in the head by members of the Taliban for standing up for girls’ right to be educated. In this day of instant global communication among the masses, Yousafzai’s story has reached millions. The Arab Spring should be a powerful lesson of the effects of social media in uniting people against tyrants.
• Women’s repression insults men: Because the cultural and religious traditions of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) view women as little more than chattel, members with this perspective are unable to enjoy a healthy relationship. “I’ve experienced the tragic consequences of this view,” he says. “My sister, Marilyn, grew up believing she had less value, because that’s what Jehovah’s Witnesses taught her. Consequently, she suffered abuse at the hands of three husbands, the last of whom took her life.” By viewing women as inferior, men are also victims. They’re denied the mutual respect, trust and shared decision-making of a healthy male-female relationship, Kelly says.
• A moderating influence: Kelly echoes the concerns of other whistle blowers – world-renowned scientists like Richard Dawkins – who worry over the plausible circumstances of world destruction at the hands of religious extremists. “We’re dealing with those who believe that the world’s fate was literally given to them by their God; people who don’t believe in the values of the Enlightenment, but who have the fruits of today’s nuclear technology,” he says. “In any group, women tend to have a moderating influence, and introducing more female influence over and within religious groups may literally mean the difference between the future of the world and the end of it.”
Richard E. Kelly grew up as a Jehovah’s Witnesses. At 20, while working at the religion’s headquarters, he left the group to live with his wife, Helen, in New York City. Because Kelly’s family believed Armageddon was imminent, his education was limited to what was required by law, since there would be no future. However, he went on to earn a bachelor’s in accounting, a master’s in business and become president of a Michigan manufacturing company. He now enjoys retirement with his family and friends.
Washington, DC – On Friday, a group of House Democratic women Members, led by Reps. Gwen Moore (WI-4), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Karen Bass (CA-33), Eleanor Holmes Norton (Del-District of Columbia) and Terri Sewell (AL-7), held a press conference in support of U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice following what they deemed unfair attacks from various Senate and House Republicans.
“The baseless ad hominem attacks on Ambassador Rice by several members of the Senate – most notably Sen. John McCain – calling into question her very character, basic level of intelligence, trustworthiness, and qualifications is not only disingenuous but at odds with the actions and stances they have taken in the past, with other potential nominees,” said Rep. Gwen Moore. “Ambassador Rice is enormously talented, highly educated, and capable, with a depth of experience that makes her a qualified candidate for a variety of high-level positions. These unwarranted attacks only serve to deter other qualified women from seeking similar high profile positions for which they are eminently qualified -and it is our nation that loses.”
“There is no legitimacy to the notion that Ambassador Rice would deliberately mislead the nation,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “What our Republican colleagues are accusing her of is completely inconsistent with her more than 20 year history as a diplomat. This is clearly petty politics and today we are standing behind Ambassador Rice to highlight her impeccable academic and professional record.”
“Ambassador Rice has carried out her duties with diligence, integrity and skill,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge. “Partisan claims that the Ambassador would intentionally mislead Americans about the unfolding situation in Benghazi are not only baseless but suspect. This highly capable public servant has done nothing to deserve the vicious mischaracterizations of her fitness to serve in any capacity the President believes is appropriate. I have full confidence in Susan Rice to serve this nation well. She has earned that confidence, not based on race or gender but on ability.”
“One of my committees had a rare hearing in the middle of recess on Benghazi. Despite the documented intelligence from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on which Ambassador Susan Rice relied on as the source of her statements, and the testimony of Ambassador Patrick Kennedy that he, too, relied on the same information, Republicans then and Republicans now shun evidence in favor of partisanship,” Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said. “Susan Rice is not a part of the problems in Benghazi and should need no defense, but she should get the most vigorous defense from fair-minded colleagues, especially women.”
“I have known Ambassador Rice for over 25 years, long before her political appointments and outside the glare of Washington politics,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “I can personally speak to her integrity, professionalism and character. Ambassador Rice is a brilliant scholar, an outstanding American Diplomat and has served our nation with great honor, dedication and leadership. These recent attempts to discredit and smear the reputation and extraordinary diplomatic work of Ambassador Rice are simply outrageous. To suggest that she would knowingly and purposefully mislead the American people is merely not true. This tragic incident should not be fodder for partisan politics at a time when we should be working together to apprehend the real culprits. Ambassador Rice acted in good faith in reporting what she had been told by CIA intelligence. I am offended that some Republican senators would even suggest that this administration and one of its chief diplomat would be complicitous,” added Sewell.
In the United States, women are assaulted or beaten once every nine seconds; worldwide, one in three women have been battered, raped or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to women’s advocacy organizations.
“That means most of us – while grocery shopping, at work or at home – come across several women a day who have either been abused, or are currently enduring abuse,” says Linda O’Dochartaigh, a health professional and author of Peregrine (www.lavanderkatbooks.com). “It’s a terrible fact of life for too many women, but if there is something we can do about it and we care about fellow human beings, then we must try.”
There are several abuse resources available to women who are being abused, or friends of women who need advice, including:
• TheHotline.org, National Domestic Violence Hotline, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 1-800-799-SAFE (7223)
• HelpGuide.org, provides unbiased, advertising-free mental health information to give people the self-help options to help people understand, prevent, and resolve life’s challenges
• VineLink.com, allows women to search for an offender in custody by name or identification number, then register to be alerted if the offender is released, transferred, or escapes
• DAHMW.org, 1-888-7HELPLINE, offers crisis intervention and support services for victims of intimate partner violence and their families
Perhaps the best thing friends and family can do for a woman enduring domestic abuse is to be there for her – not only as a sympathetic ear, but also as a source of common sense that encourages her to take protective measures, O’Dochartaigh says. Before that, however, loved ones need to recognize that help is needed.
O’Dochartaigh reviews some of the warning signs:
• Clothing – Take notice of a change in clothing style or unusual fashion choices that would allow marks or bruises to be easily hidden. For instance, someone who wears long sleeves even in the dog days of summer may be trying to hide signs of abuse.
• Constant phone calls – Many abusers are very controlling and suspicious, so they will call their victims multiple times each day to “check in.” This is a subtle way of manipulating their victims, to make them fearful of uttering a stray word that might alert someone that something is wrong. Many abusers are also jealous, and suspect their partner is cheating on them, and the constant calls are a way of making sure they aren’t with anyone they aren’t supposed to be around.
• Unaccountable injuries – Sometimes, obvious injuries such as arm bruises or black eyes are a way to show outward domination over the victim. Other times, abusers harm areas of the body that won’t be seen by family, friends and coworkers.
• Frequent absences – Often missing work or school and other last-minute plan changes may be a woman hiding abuse, especially if she is otherwise reliable.
• Excessive guilt & culpability – Taking the blame for things that go wrong, even though she was clearly not the person responsible – or she is overly-emotional for her involvement – is a red flag.
• Fear of conflict – Being brow-beaten or physically beaten takes a heavy psychological toll, and anxiety bleeds into other relationships.
• Chronic uncertainty – Abusers often dominate every phase of a victim’s life, including what she thinks she likes, so making basic decisions can prove challenging.
About Linda O’Dochartaigh
Linda O’Dochartaigh has worked in health care is an advocate for victims of child abuse and domestic violence. She wants survivors to know that an enriched, stable and happy life is available to them. O’Dochartaigh is the mother of three grown children and is raising four adopted grandchildren.
Mitt Romney’s town hall debate response to a young woman’s question about women and
equal pay went viral. With the flurry of attention on women’s issues, author Kendal Sheets
notes that now is an important time to take a look at the Mormon Church’s views on
women. He urges voters to consider how its views might affect Romney’s positions.
McLean, VA (October 2012)—Binders. Full. Of. Women. There were many heated exchanges during the recent town hall debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. But these four words uttered by Romney set off an Internet firestorm almost immediately. And since the debate, they’ve brought a renewed focus on Romney’s positions on women’s issues. One thing voters should consider, says Kendal Sheets, is what effect Romney’s Mormon faith might have had on his views on these important issues.
“It cannot help but be noted that Romney is a devout Mormon,” says Sheets, coauthor along with Meredith Ray Sheets of Book of Mormon, Book of Lies (1811 Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-9391790-0-5, $24.95, www.BookofMormonBookofLies.com). “And that Mormons, in general, have very traditional views on women’s roles.
“One can’t help but wonder whether Romney’s views on women have been shaped by the Church,” he adds. “Especially when he seems to think, as he intimated in the debate, that being a champion of women in the workplace means making sure they can get home in time to cook dinner.”
Sheets is an expert on the Mormon Church. He’s spent many years researching and writing Book of Mormon, Book of Lies, which shows that The Book of Mormon, written by Joseph Smith and published in 1830, is nothing more than a cleverly disguised plagiarism of The Travels of Marco Polo, the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World as recorded by his son, histories of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, and travel journals. Sheets’ experience as an intellectual property and patent attorney makes him uniquely qualified to uncover plagiarism and fraud and compare content from historic books with the content of The Book of Mormon. The results are astonishing.
Below Sheets provides a few noteworthy talking points on the Mormon Church’s views on women:
The Mormon Church doesn’t allow women to hold leadership positions. When Joseph Smith and his father organized the Mormon Church, they created an ecclesiastical structure with distinct purposes and privileges for Church members. “They called the privileges ‘priesthoods,’ and only male Church members could receive such honors,” notes Sheets. “Even today, Mormon women cannot join the priesthood. No woman is on ‘Area Seventy,’ a governing group representing the Quorum of Twelve, an LDS Church governing body, or can ever be a president or prophet of the LDS Church.”
The Mormon Church gives men power over women. For a woman to enter a Mormon temple for any reason, including a ceremony of marriage (Marriage is a Mormon woman’s path to entering the highest level of heaven, Celestial Heaven), she must have a “temple recommend,” which is valid in one-year time windows.
“The LDS Church’s ‘Relief Society Personal Study Guide 1988,’ (Relief Society is the Mormon women’s alternative group established by Joseph Smith) explains that this ‘recommend’ is given to women by men who determine a woman’s ‘worthiness,’” says Sheets. “Thus, men in the Church hold the power over women to enter the temple and to reach Heaven.”
The Mormon Church believes a woman’s place is in the home. It is still a widely held belief (and practice) that Mormon women should be homemakers and produce the children, while Mormon men should be the breadwinners. “Thomas Monson, the current president of the LDS Church, believes that a family should remain patriarchal,” notes Sheets. “In other words, a man should have a profession, and a woman should be the homemaker. If a strife or problem arises in the home, it is the woman’s fault, not the man’s.”
Sheets presents as evidence Monson’s explanation presented in Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas Monson. Monson writes:
How might we as leaders live righteously? I believe first of all there should be a good relationship between each man and his wife. A man cannot be an effective teacher, leader, or counselor if at home there is bickering and quarreling, if his wife is forever nagging him and suggesting that he should have been an engineer, that he should have been an architect, or should have gone into this field or that field. But if the wife is supportive, if she lets her husband know that he is engaged in the greatest work that a man could possibly pursue, that she sustains him with all her heart and with all her soul, I have a feeling that he will do the same with her and sustain her in her role as a homemaker, as a companion, as a wife, as a mother.
The Mormon Church opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. In the ’70s, the ERA was put forth as a Constitutional amendment to guarantee equal rights regardless of sex. At the time, Mormon Church leaders vehemently opposed the amendment because of the effect they said it would have on “moral issues.” The Church famously excommunicated outspoken member of the Church Sonia Johnson for speaking out in support of the amendment.
The Mormon Church holds a pro-life stance. From the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
In 1973, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement regarding abortion, which is still applicable today:
“The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.”
The Mormon Church holds that a woman gets to Heaven via her husband. The Church’s doctrine states that the only way for a Mormon woman to reach the highest levels of Heaven is for her to be married. Her husband is her way to paradise, not her belief in God.
“Relegation of women to second-class status began with Joseph Smith’s revelation of polygamy, which forced women to accept the practice by men or be punished by God,” explains Sheets. “In 1843 Smith produced a revelation called ‘For Time and Eternity,’ which claimed God ordained him and other men in the priesthood with rights of polygamy. The LDS Church leaders still believe this was God’s commandment during that time period and have never denied the validity of Smith’s doctrines, but hold that in 1890 the LDS prophet of the day was told by God not to follow polygamy any longer.”
“It’s certainly true that many religions have questionable histories when it comes to women’s rights,” notes Sheets. “Those who think Romney’s religion shouldn’t be called into question ask why we aren’t asking President Obama about Christianity’s history of discriminating against women. But we know where President Obama stands with women, don’t we? We know he’s pro-choice. We know he believes in equal pay. It’s difficult to achieve that same clarity when you start examining Mitt Romney’s past statements and constantly changing views on women’s issues.”