Now, when talking about the elusive Crock-o-denial, one need only look at its name to understand its most basic nature.
Now, according to the venerable “Urban Dictionary” crock is defined as:
Bullsh!#, nonsense, something that is a lie. However, crock is not usually used as an interjection like the above words may be. Crock is quickly being picked up as a retort for proverbs or phrases such as; “You can do anything you set your mind to,” or, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Crock can also be used to describe a phony or false thing or someone who is a sham.
A crock-o-denial is someone who is in outright denial about the crock in their specific culture, which they would not put up anywhere else. I’m talkin people who claim not to “have a racist bone in their body”, support civil rights agendas, sign all the right petitions—but for some reason believe that when our Founding Fathers and Mothers owned slaves…that….that was Ok. You know, the people who will gladly tell you how outraged they are about Japanese torture of Americans during WWII, but the US torture…that…that was justified. And they believe this, passionately.
Crock-o-denials! Just pick one! You either accept a concept in both situations, or you don’t.
But my particular Femi-missed issue now is the more specific species. The Spiritual Crock-o-denial, which is a Crock-o-denial of a religious nature.
This is not unlike President Boyd K. Packer’s Spiritual Crocodiles, in the sense that a young feminist antelope, like myself, might wander up to what looks like a soothing pool of feminism ( after being exhausted under the blistering hot sexist sun, all day) and suddenly find her(him)self getting her head bit off, or worse, get dragged under and devoured, to remain a permanent part of the crock-o-denial ( in the form of coverture- still alive and well in the traditional Mormon psyche).
(Watch this, but replace Crocodile, with Crock-o-denial….just for kicks)
A Spiritual Crock-o-Denial is, in essence, someone who understands academic feminism, gets outraged at governmental, corporate, and other religious sexism…but not within their own religions. That sexism, my friends, comes from God.
(Now, I could just lock myself into the “compound” of feminists I already know- but I want to explore! There are, I am sure, feminists I dream not of, just outside the fence!)
I will share the tale of Me, played here by an antelope, and Jake, played here by a Spiritual Crock-o-denial.
The Tale: I stumbled upon Jake one day while he was having a conversation with my friend Jessica. It was like a miracle. He was going on and on and on about academic feminism….dude knew his stuff. He was proudly defending the rights of women, and even (very un-crock-o-denial-like) talking about unfairness within Mormon culture. AND , wonder of wonders, he was tolerably attractive and funny. He was tall, with thick dark hair (always a favorite, and a “must have” according to my Beehive “future husband list”, though Dennis, St. John, and London have all been blondes.), could dance, joke, and had a lot of interests in common with me. He was a teacher, he was into ancient Hebrew stuff and knew all the movies I knew. He apparently found me very attractive, and told several people so, including me.
He did/does have a rather unfortunate habits like:
1.calling me “princess”, “honey”, “luv” (that’s the way he spells it, I swear.), “babe” and “darling.” (which would be ok if we were dating…sometimes…but we’re not.)
2.And there was the time he started talking to me about how females were the “fairer sex” and were more “special” and were more likely to drive men to “distraction.” (I told him that I thought that men were the fairer sex, and the fact that my driving is slightly poorer around BYU’s shirtless jogger gangs is no coincidence.)
3. His most favorite topic of conversation seems to be “Joking about having sex with JD.”, “JD’s lack of sex.”, “Men JD would like to have sex with.”, “JD’s future children and the sex implied.” and “Things about sex…which can be losely tied to JD.”
I mean, that alone made me a much more jittery antelope- but if there is one thing I’ve learned through painful self-reflection, it’s that if there is a chance that my boyfriend won’t be a chauvinist….I put up with a lot more crap than I ever should.
(Now is not the time to recommend dating non-feminists to me. I’ve tried that too. Having unchallenged sexist beliefs is automatically more crap than I should ever have to put with.)
So, one day, after turning him down for a date, Jake and I were sitting around talking. He was about as real a feminist as I had ever seen. He was smart, funny, generally polite, and flattered and flirted often. But then I did it. The queen mother of all topics. I mentioned the temple ceremony.
* Cue the antelope and crocodile actors*
(Crocodile bites antelope in the head)
*Thank you for that performance.
In English it sounded something like this. (very condensed)
Jake: “But JD. The temple ceremony is beautiful! It really represents the sacred equality of men and women.”…
JD: (these words actually left my mouth with the amount of horror you would expect.) Oh NO JAKE! NOT YOU TOO!!!!!!
JD: “It creates gender heirarchy. I could not support something that supports gender heirarchy.”
Jake: No it doesn’t. Don’t you see, women have the role of Christ. And are the vows any less meaningful because they are done through another person?
JD: So, if women are Jesus, then Men are…God? That doesn’t work. God only was over Jesus to help bring him up to his level. The ceremony suggests that…
Jake: Oh JD *pat pat pat*, I understand what you are saying…but is Jesus any lower than God? Of course not…they’re equals. You just play the more honorable role of submitter…in the ceremony.
JD:…AND why can’t I make my own vow with God. Why do I have to work through a male human being? Can’t you see the message it sends, to both men and women? And no HUMAN BEING CAN STAND IN THE PLACE OF GOD FOR ANOTHER…no matter how much they would like it to be so.
Jake: “Ouch…JD. I just want you to know that the ceremony is such a priceless, beautiful thing. When you go through you’ll see.”
JD: I have studied it in historical context. And the very act of going through requires me to make the vow. And it would, most likely, be around my wedding. It’s not like I’m going to be able to say…hmmm….no. That doesn’t sound good to me. I’ll be surrounded by my parents and my fiance and who knows who else, after spending thousands of dollars, and months on a wedding.
Jake: “What JD, what? Are you just not going to get Endowed. This is a beautiful symbol of men and women.”
JD: “Jake! You would not tolerate ceremonial or institutional subjugation of women in Islam, or in corporate America! What is so different about this now?”
Jake: JD….just listen. I just want you to know that this is a beautiful thing and the true order of prayer is one of the most spiritual experiences you’ll ever have. Trust me. I’m a temple worker. It’s important to defend the ceremony. I’m just defending the ceremony. But I know what you’re talking about waaaay more than any other guys. You know me. I’m a feminist. I understand….but I’m just defending the ceremony. And you just seem so defensive…and contentious.
JD: I’m not contentious….just….sad.
Jake: I know. You’re so nice…and pretty. You look hot today, by the way.
(By this time I am crying. I’m not much of a crier but when even the most feminist of feminists fail, and my shots at tolerant non-feminists fail, and my shots at ignorant but trying-their-hardest feminists fail….I cry. And that was the day I decided that I’m just gonna date whoever and have absolute nice but non-committal fun…because I’m not gonna sit around waiting for the real feminists ( I know you exist! I’ve met your kind!) to show up. I’ve got a life to live. And if it doesn’t include marriage…I can think of about 70 million worse things that could happen than not being married. And among them, for me, is marrying a sexist.)
First- Saying that you are the best guy I will ever find for understanding my problems with gender hierarchy in the church….won’t get you very far with me. Your threats do you no good, sir. Second- What on EARTH makes you think that I haven’t spent my entire life hearing the “ceremony defended”. Stop acting like I’ve just never heard that the temple was a good thing before, and that it is your job to enlighten me.)
Now, I know I’m on touchy ground here. There are people I know read this blog, right now, who find absolutely nothing wrong with the temple ceremony, or any other of the church’s structural language and policies regarding gender and do not see how it creates a hierarchy.
But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel something like the middle CEO in this. (it’s a little shocking and irreverent, but the situation is the closest thing I can find to how I feel in these conversations. I am in no way trying to compare the temple to sexual abuse…just the obviousness of the problem to myself, and the reaction of everyone else.)
” I’m obviously the minority here…I just think it’s too much.”
Now, you know I respect you, whatever your opinion is on the matter. But don’t be surprised if, every once in a while, when you talk about how much you like the ceremony and don’t find a problem with it…I look at you like you’re a little crazy.
And I grew up on a HIGHLY feminist interpretation of the Adam and Eve story and a HIGHLY positive outlook on the role of women in the church. I grew up a moderate on this issue. If you came from a more conservative viewpoint and have suddenly felt like a more positive, moderate interpretation is the solution to my problem…that’s where I started…and it’s not.
And no, Spiritual Crock-o-denials of all sorts- If you think that one institution or religion’s subjugation of women is wrong, but ours is right…I don’t think you’re more spiritual or credible because of it.