Tuesday, October 4, 2011

If They Are In Trouble So Are We (Stella)

As I was doing a little "work avoidance" I came across this article on CNN's website and felt that familiar feeling of "I've got to blog this" come upon me. I ask you to hang in there with me - this is not a man bash, this is not a frustrated single girl vent and this is not an attempt to find someone to blame for my current life predicament. It is however, a frightening reality of our current society, and in typical Stella style I say let's examine and try to fix.

In this article it is discussed that men in U.S. society are falling behind women in education, career success, and family ties. I'll let you read and decide on your own but some of the high points are:

  • Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two.

  • The out-of-wedlock birthrate is more than 40% in America. Of course we can only blame men for 1/2 of that...

  • Men are also less religious than ever before. According to Gallup polling, 39% of men reported attending church regularly in 2010, compared to 47% of women.

  • Current census reports that for the 1st time in recorded American history there are more singles then marrieds, & more adults then children.
I suppose the easy thing to do would be for those of us of the XX chromosome persuasion to point our fingers at our brothers and chastise them for not keeping up. 10 years ago I would have been at the front of the finger pointing line - however time and experience has shown me that things are not always as they seem. Therefore I must stop and ask:


As children of our Heavenly Father we know that women are no more talented or gifted then men - He has blessed us all with gifts, talents, and abilities. In America it can be argued that we all have similar access to education. As members of the church we all receive the same Prophetic guidance and counsel. So what gives? Some thoughts...

  • Divorce and the break up of families. How many have watched their parents marriage break up or other loved ones or maybe even their own and have sworn they will never again go through that?

  • Women's lib - no offense to any libbers out there but somewhere in the quest for equality we handed over our rights to chivalry, our God given right to be gentle and female and though I doubt that any of us mourn the demise of the corset, I for one wouldn't mind being taken care of once and a while even if I don't "need" to be and yes I'm willing to wear a corset to make that happen.

  • Selfishness and the waxing cold of mankinds' hearts. Marriage and family require putting others needs first every day - and for some this isn't very "fun."

  • Massive decline in morality and values. I can't help but think of the reference to buying the milk if the cow's giving it away...

  • Satan's all out attack on (I believe) men and their VITAL importance to women and the world. I long ago lost count of how many men have told me they aren't good enough for me. Knowing that I am no better then anyone else I have come to interpret this as "I don't have anything to offer you;" or "I don't want to put forth the effort that that would require;" or better said "I don't believe I have it in me."
Granted, all of this began long before any of us began our mortal journey and it's hard to say exactly when it started to fall apart. Maybe it began during WWII when women kept the country going and had a taste of earning income and working outside the home? Maybe it was the Flower Power and free love generation? Or maybe we can blame it on the invention of Atari (the article cites that men 18-34 play video games more then boys age 12-17.)

I wonder if this is a chicken/egg type of situation. Certainly as women we just might be the most educated and accomplished generation ever. Is that because we are career & achievement orientated or because we weren't given another choice? Certainly I believe most of us would have (and should have) pursued an education regardless but I'm quite certain I wouldn't have gone on to graduate school or have the career that I have if I had been given another option.

I decided long ago that I wanted a "good" life. I wanted to be able to care for my own needs, I wanted to be able to enjoy some of life's 'fineries' and since I didn't have a partner that landed squarely on my shoulders. For me, that meant formal education and a career. So the question I pose is: Have women surpassed men in these areas because we are these super go-getters or because we didn't have another choice?

My follow up question is to wonder if our achievements (and maybe even a get out of my way, I am woman hear me roar mentality that some of those achievements bring) have somehow pushed the men of our society into thinking that they can't, or shouldn't, or don't need to pursue their own achievements?

I can't help but think that if we expect men to return to who they once were we have to in part do the same. During the October 2000 general conference Margaret Nadauld said:

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

I believe therein lies the challenge. We do not need to hide our intelligence or abilities nor do we need to stop reaching for our greatest potentials but perhaps as we draw closer to who we are to be we will clear the path for our brothers to embrace who they are. If women of the world returned to the virtues the Lord has outlined for us it seems to me that men would have no choice but to follow the example. Of course we are one small percentage of womanhood but if we can inspire other women with our examples perhaps change can begin to happen - maybe not everyone and certainly not immediately but I believe it can happen. Let us encourage the best of one another, love each other and cheer each other on to achieve all the Lord has sent us here to be.

The article concluded with this thought: "This decline in founding virtues -- work, marriage, and religion -- has caught the eye of social commentators from all corners." Make no mistake friends - if the world is starting to notice you can say with absolute authority:



Anne Elliot said...

About a month before my most recent breakup, the boy tried to break up with me by citing the "You deserve better" excuse. I completely called him out on it, and it was one of the most empowering moments I've had in my life.

Non sequitur: my copy of The Atlantic Monthly arrived yesterday, and the cover story: "Why Marry?" I'm anxious to read it and see what it says.

JennVan said...

This is a great post. I was just talking about this topic with a few mid-single age friends on facebook the other day. One girl was questioning why the men she knew didn't ask women out on dates. My belief has always been that feminism has done way more harm than good for both men and women. We had a great discussion and it spurred lots of ideas and debate.

Durante said...

I think it's true that we're all in trouble, but the media also likes to sensationalize things just to get people to read it.

I have no idea why more women have degree's then men, are the men just lazy? I think that I've met more women who know how to accomplish goals than I've met men, but my circles are kind of closed and a terrible example.

A great article, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I have thought about this a lot as well. Two things:

The prophets and apostles have approached single Mormon men with directness and chastisement. That is like the Savior doing those things (because he loves them). When we "lighten" that directness, are we going against the Savior? I like being nice and generous as well, but I believe deviating from the spirit of what the apostles say may contribute to the non-action unfortunately currently displayed by single mormon men of a certain age.

Secondly, why does anything we do clear the way for what a man thinks he can do? :) I respect men's abilities more than that--and herein is where I agree with you, that we ALL have a problem. But I think women's only part in that is that we have sustained a subtle culture of mothering our men and not just our kids--and that is what is disempowering to them, not being strong and accomplished. We smile and nod when a guy gets up and says something well-intended like, "My wife is raising me just like our kids." Really? I don't want to be complimented but in actuality sentenced to not having a help-meet. It's a bit of a silly message we send, and that just gets entrenched in everyone's thinking.

Couples help each other grow, but it is not women's role to inspire the bulk of her man's actions. It's all been so frustrating as a single person, though, so I appreciate your forum and everyone's efforts to make something of the situations.

I say single women dealing with single Mormon men should be very kind but resolutely firm--no more excuses and no more mothering grown men. . .BECAUSE we respect them.