Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Forgive My Rant

If I could get Mormon women to stop saying one thing, it would be all the variations on the following:

"Even though I always planned to stay home with my kids, I went ahead and got an education because you never know what might happen (i.e. my husband might die or leave me, and I'll be forced to get a job)."

On the surface, that statement seems completely innocuous, and I'm sure the women who say it don't mean anything by it. Preparing for an unplanned future is always a good idea, right? That's one of the bedrocks of Mormon culture.

But when I hear that statement, I can't help but think of the underlying implication: Educating girls is not important. If we could somehow solve that pesky little problem of men dying or leaving their wives, there would be no reason to educate girls at all.

That type of backward thinking was used as an excuse by men for thousands of years, so when I hear it come out of the mouths of women, my skin starts to crawl. And when I hear it come out of the mouths of teenage girls, who are already devaluing their education, I want to shake their parents and leaders.

This is what I would like to hear instead:

I am educated because I am a smart and capable woman, and whether I choose to stay home or work full time or work part time or volunteer my time, the world needs and deserves my fully-developed talents.

--or this--

I am educated because I believe in the power of knowledge and I understand the importance of an educated society.

--or this--

I am educated because I am a daughter of God. I understand my divine nature, and I know my individual worth.

Saying that you only need an education in case you lose your man, devalues girls and devalues education. And just like preparing for an unplanned future, education is a bedrock of Mormon culture. We are taught: "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith." (D&C 88:118). That command applies to men and women, boys and girls. One of the Young Women's values is knowledge. Elder Russell M. Nelson said in an address to youth, "In the Church, obtaining an education and getting knowledge are a religious responsibility...Knowledge brings power; purity brings power; love brings power. We want you to have the power to become all that the Lord wants you to become."

So my dear sisters in the gospel, please stop downplaying your education. You are educated because you're worth it.

*An addendum: This drives me crazy, but...I still believe.


  1. So true. I've been married almost 16 years and worked full or part time for all but two of those. Many of those years that income saved us. I've used all the event planning skills I learned in college many times over for various church activities, ditto the speech classes. I've edited papers and applications for husband and kids, used my (very little) accounting skills to keep track of our money all these years - and I have wished desperately that I had taken an economics class and more political science so that I could explain to my kids in greater detail how banks work and why governments do the things they do. That college degree is the center of my life and would have been with or without a husband.

    (Besides all of that, a college degree unused for 20 years is useless)

  2. Oooooh, you just hit on one of my MAJOR pet peeves! I always made a point to try to emphasize higher education when I was YW, (you were with me.) I wanted the girls to see that we (leaders) all had college educations, we all did it because it was important to US, not some safety net in case of disaster. Juggling motherhood and home and work is hard, but it can be done. Sometimes one happens for a while, sometimes another. But the option is always there. Maybe I'm a closet feminist, who knows, but I know this: The Lord love to see his daughters be educated, hardworking, and fulfilled. We can contribute so much more to society when we can speak knowledgeable about current events, and actually know what we're talking about. Education gives you the confidence to act, instead of sitting idly by while the men "handle it." No thanks!


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