The show was really pretty interesting to listen to. The host had three guests: Dorothy Allred Solomon, author of The Sisterhood: Inside the Lives of Mormon Women
, Julie Smith who blogs on Times and Seasons
, and Marie Cornwall who is a professor of sociology at BYU. The host mentioned at one point that they had tried Friday to have either Julie Beck herself, or someone else officially representing the organization, but that sort of thing has to be approved by the highest levels, and they did not have enough time to get that approval.
I missed about the first ten minutes of the show, but here are some of the notes I took on what I heard. The host seemed to maintain a mostly unbiased view, though he did take it upon himself to try at dig at what each woman really thought.
One of the first things I heard as I tuned in, was MC's statement that on average, working women of today are spending just as much time with the SAHM's (stay-at-home moms) of the 60s. They accomplish this by spending less time cleaning, and by spending their leisure time with their children.
They discussed the bloggernacle's reaction to the talk, mentioning that a thread on one blog had over 400 comments before the end of that session of conference.
Just illustrating that it was, and is a very hot topic. JS stated that she thought at least part of it was due to the bloggernacle being a specific subset of the church, not necessarily wholly representative of the church. She said she'd heard a lot of positive reaction in discussions in her local ward. She said she felt a lot of women were looking for less of the "we're all fine" sort of talk. They've wanted more of a "call to repentance" sort of talk, and that these women found a challenge in Beck's statements.
Several times throughout the discussion it was brought up that part of the difficultly of this sort of thing is that there is no real forum for women to discuss difficult decisions. The idea that one woman may feel called to more of a public service role than to motherhood, but that she has nowhere to go to talk about that choice with other LDS women.
There was plenty of talk of compassion for women who would feel marginalized by this talk. That they don't, won't, or can't have children, and end up feeling that they have no place in the saints because of it. JS mentioned that she felt this talk was directed specifically to mothers, rather than women as a whole, and she stated she felt there was very little
from the pulpit directed to mothers specifically. MC then brought up her feeling that both the talk, and the radio discussion dealt with only one part of the motherhood in the church, those in the middle to upper-middle class that have the option of staying home in the first place. She didn't feel the talk really addressed mothers in the working class that have to work to keep their family in a home.
JS then countered that there was nothing in the talk that said that mothers had to be full time mothers. The host asked what was wrong with saying that LDS mothers should mother full time. JS said that she felt the talk dealt with the "essence of mothering" and not necessarily the specific tasks of ironing, dishes, etc. That it was a call to the question of who is teaching the children, who is bringing them up. MC (who seemed pretty progressive through the whole discussion) talked about the trend of more men getting involved in the housekeeping, and of spreading the work out among the family to improve the time spent together.
A woman named Louisa called in, you could hear at least one small child making noise in the background. She mentioned that she was a SAHM, and, starting to sound a little teary, at first she felt very put down by the talk. She said that she then realized that mormons should be held to a different standard than the rest of the world, and she then found the talk uplifting. After she got off the line, the host asked, why did this talk not seem to give anyone a break? Why must they create more guilt for not doing enough? DAS replied that this was one of the big concerns in reaction to the talk. She said she was concerned about the guilt the talk could create among the members, but then she agreed that it was a call back to focus on the children. She also said that the divorce rate has skyrocketed since women entered the work-force.
MC stated that one trap people get into is the idea that only mormons care about their kids. She said the place where most kids get left alone is among the working class. She also said that the divorce rate is coming down among the college educated.
Kyle called in to say he was very grateful to his mother staying home, because he was having troubles in school and the year she home schooled him gave him the chance to really succeed. Reina called in to say she was a convert, her husband makes 30,000 dollars a year, they have four kids, and she was not offended by the talk at all. He then read an email from a woman named Jo who said the talk reminded her of an 80s movie about mormon women and depression (anyone know the reference?). She felt that the talk simply meant that no matter what you were doing, there was always something more to do, and that your best just wasn't good enough.
JS said she felt that the talk was to be taken on a basis of personal revelation. The host countered with "you can't just say she was wrong?" JS said she felt she could see the wisdom in it BUT (that word always gets me) it wasn't for everyone's situation. She said it was a call to growth, but should not be seen as a new bat to beat oneself over the head. She also mentioned feeling very schizoid about the whole thing (cog dis anyone?).
The host asked CM how realistic is it for women these days to stay home. Her answer: not very. Even just working part time is getting harder, because women often need the full time hours to make up for a lack of insurance from the husband's job. There was again mention that the talk didn't require that women be full time mothers. She then it increased the amount of work for women, because now they're working, and they have to worry about the kids, and clean.
In the end, the host asked what LDS women want to hear from their leaders. DAS replied that women want to know that they are free to be themselves, that their voices are heard, and that each of them has a place in the body of the saints. MC said she wanted to hear the truthfulness of the gospel and guidance to be good saints as a whole, because no one can speak for or to all women, because there is no universal woman. JS concurred that women were too diverse to direct just one message to all of them.
So there you go, I tried to take notes as they went along, but if anyone can find a transcript anywhere, it'd be even better.