CTNAHM: Let’s Play a Stereotype Game!

CTNAHM: Let’s Play a Stereotype Game! September 25, 2013

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally Posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 48—50

Alrighty. I hope everyone is doing well. I’m really excited for this post, because Michael lets us play a game! I’m calling it the Sexist Stereotype Game, because it shows how sexist we really are.  Let’s jump right in, shall we? Text is in purple.

I Need Her Sensitivity

I need her companionship, mercy, and grace.  The nature of man is found in the husband and wife’s combination.  God Adam “Male and female”,  It is as if one body and soul couldn’t contain and express the fullness of God, so the Creator divided his attributes, grouping similar traits, putting them into two genders.  If we were to make a long list of human traits, and read them before an audience asking them to respond “male” or “female”, I expect we would be in 90% agreement.

Give it a try. Put an M (male) or an F (female) after each one.

  • Sensitive
  • Merciful
  • Courageous
  • Logical
  • Intuitive
  • Just
  • Compassionate
  • Forgiving
  • Hasty
  • Full of Grace
  • Tender
  • Cautious
  • Imaginative
  • Analytical
  • Creative
  • Aggressive
  • Kind
  • Gentle
  • Meek
  • Full of Faith
  • Discreet
  • Honoring
  • Nurturing

My wife and I went through the above list and had about a 90% agreement.  Where we disagreed, we did agree that they could go either way, depending on the person.  For instance, creativity can be found in either gender, as can faith.  But there would be nearly 100% agreement that sensitivity is more the domain of the woman whereas justice is a more of a masculine trait.

Wasn’t that fun? I don’t know about you, but a couple of times I had to catch myself and say “Stop it! Just because Mormonism told you women are meek, doesn’t mean they are! Look at you vs your own husband, silly!”  It was kind of shocking how stereotypically gendered my thoughts are sometimes. But if when thinking about the list, instead of just hurrying through it and assigning M/F as soon as you read the word, you were to stop, think about the trait, and list people you know that have that, perhaps your list might be different.  For instance, my husband is meek, kind, gentle, cautious, and sensitive.  I’m aggressive, just, and intuitive.

Another question I want to ask, is “under what circumstances are we judging people?”  Because that would change the reaction.  Is it just what we assume m/f base nature is? I’ve heard Christian women describe their love for their children as “aggressive”. Or does that count as compassionate?  However you look at it, all Michael is (once again) doing is solidifying gender stereotypes.

Sir, you are not complete without the full input of your wife.  Your wife is more than your sex toy; she is the other half of your humanity.  A man out of balance with his wife is unbalanced.  You need a help meet, a helper suited to your nature.  God made her to assist you-not just to hold the other end of the board while you nail it up, but to balance you in temperament and human traits.  If you despair of bringing her along, when you leave her behind, you must leave yourself behind.  God wisely designed man and woman so as to maximize human development  elevating it to a state higher than original creation.  You must flow with God’s program or fail altogether.

Interesting. While I believe spouses (or any relationship) needs the full input of the other, I don’t understand how to reconcile this with Debi’s book.  Debi’s book explicitly says “don’t disagree, don’t challenge”. How can a wife give input if she’s not supposed to disagree? Isn’t that what input is?

don’t know about you, but I laughed like a maniac at Michael’s “more than a sex toy” comment. The first (albeit uncharitable) comment that ran through my mind was “Yeah. She cooks and cleans, too.”  I also don’t understand how Michael assumes that any man and any woman, when combined, will automatically equal all of the traits of God. I’ve known pairs that were almost identical in temperament. Though I suppose, if you’re starting from the basis that God made women with XYZ and men with ABC, then of course any two would be compatible.  I’ve found this idea in Mormondom, too. Women are soft, tender, and sweet. That’s what makes them so darn suitable for staying at home. /eyeroll

I think it’s very telling how Michael says you have to flow with God’s program or fail.  I’ve read the Bible, and nowhere is there a section called “God’s Program”.  There’s a few verses scattered here and there, from different people at different times in different situations, that people mash together and say “HA! God’s will!”  I also am so amazed how how remarkably similar “God’s program” is to “Michael’s ideals”.  He really must be a prophet, to be so in tune with God…

I know in my own experience that my wife has fulfilled me as a person.  She hasn’t changed me that much, but she continues to help me by supplying that which I lack.  In the process of trusting her, I grow in faith and humility.  I am still not as sensitive as she is, but she provides the impetus for me to recognize the moment when sensitivity is called for, enabling me to do what needs to be done even when I do not feel it.  Wow! That is “heirs together the grace of life”!

Um…not to sound like a broken record, but how can a woman supply what a man lacks, if according to Debi, she’s not allowed to acknowledge (even to herself!) that her man is lacking in any area?  This is kind of reminding me how my inlaws interact.  Nobody communicates their needs, they have this weird system of half hints and the hopes that the other will read their minds.  And of course, everyone’s feelings are usually hurt, and everyone is always walking on eggshells, hoping they don’t tick the other person off.  In general, if people can’t communicate their needs (any gender) those needs won’t get met.  Also, if that’s what Michael means when he says “heirs together”, I’d rather be an heir alone. Just saying.

I am prone to deal with situations based on cold, hard logic and Justice. “You sow it, you reap it.” “Here are the facts, like it or lump it.”  “This makes sense to me. Either it makes sense to you, or you are ignorant or contrary.”  I can hurt people feelings. I can be insensitive, not out of a feeling of maliciousness or uncaring.  I just cannot fathom why anyone else would be upset by my “cutting to the chase, telling it like it is”.  As a man, I have trouble walking a mile in another man’s shoes, but you would think my wife shared shoes with every suffering and and insecure person.  She seems to know ahead of time how others will feel in any given circumstance.  She “feels their pain”.  God put his sensitiveness in the female gender, but he gave her to Adam and told him to become one flesh with the lady, depending on her as his helper.

Wow.  Though I, too, can deal with other people by saying “This is how it is. Either fix it or stop griping”, I am able to empathize and be at least polite about it.  The line “I just cannot fathom why anyone else would be upset by my…” is kind of scary. I dated a sociopath, and one of the things he would say is “I can’t believe you would get upset when I…” (usually prostitutes, girls off of craigslist, or stealing money).  It’s a very…disturbed or socially backwards person…who can’t tailor their reactions to the person. Heck. Little kids are a master at this.  If mom gives into tears, they cry. If dad caves at silence, they stare.  Surely a grown man can, too.  I’m also beginning to wonder now if Debi sits in with all the counseling sessions?  Debi’s there to empathize and Michael’s there to say “how it is”?  I would think that could, on occasion, be awkward.

In most cases women are thee first to offer mercy and grace.  The only time the female creatures are ungracious is when there is feminine competition.  Pussycats will fight if they think the other is trying to horn in on their old tom, and they will show no mercy in a verbal battle.  Otherwise women are full of mercy and pleasant goodwill towards the failing of others.

Oh, I see. The only times women aren’t pleasant and sweet is when they are marking their territory.  What about if a woman has been hurt by an individual (man or woman) and doesn’t want to get hurt again?  What about if the woman has had a terrible, stressful day and is cranky?  What about women who show little mercy or grace at anytime?  I guess these situations just don’t exist. It must be nice to live in such a black/white PearlWorld, wouldn’t it?  And seriously, comparing women to cats now?  Really?

Don’t shut your wife out when she has feelings about situations.  That doesn’t mean you will always succumb to her suggestions any more than she will always appreciate your logic and justice when it’s called for, but always pause and patiently consider her perspective.  If you think she is one-sided, which she can be, then explain your position and have a good back-and-forth discussion.

It’s a great idea to not often shut your spouse (kid, partner, best friend, co-worker) out.  I think it’s funny how women’s opinions are suggestions, and men’s opinions are logic.  And thank you, Michael, for once again telling us how one-sided women are.

A woman doesn’t expect you to always conceded to her views, but she deserves the respect of being heard and understood.  If she knows you understand her and that you care what she thinks, she can relinquish her will to yours and trust your wisdom.  As time goes by and decisions come out of this duo brainstorming, it will be clear to both of you where your strong points are.

No. Just no. If I’m constantly telling my husband my views, and he says “Thank you for sharing, but I’m going to do what I want”, I’m not going to relinquish my will or trust his wisdom.  What wisdom, anyway? Are men gifted wisdom because they are men?  If a person always steamrolls you, regardless of whether or not they listen, odds are good you will shut down. Why bother having a discussion if it doesn’t matter what you say?  I just still can’t get over the dissonance between Debi’s book (don’t argue) and Michael’s (have good back-and-forth).  Maybe that’s the real reason Michael doesn’t want women to read his books.  Apparently Michael has slightly more respect for women then Debi does.  Maybe that’s because all women are trying to move in on her “old tom”? Ewww.

If developing circumstances prove a wife correct, the humble man will learn to trust her instincts more and more.  Likewise, when a man’s logic and rationality prove themselves in the outcome, the wife will learn to see things from his perspective and trust him more.  In time they will sense when to yield to the other, and discussions will be a consensus  Wow again! That’s beautiful and it works wonderfully, but it takes time and patience.  Get off your high horse and boost your wife up there with you!  She will be riding behind you, but let her whisper in your ear.  You still have the reins, but remember  if you take a wrong turn, she takes it also, so she deserves your esteem.

I find it laughably ironic that Michael says “the humble man”.  He’s spent a good 10th of this book maintaining that he’s not often humble or weak. So does this advice apply to everyone but him? It seems to me that having a discussion where you already know the outcome (when to yield), is a waste of time.  If you know your spouse is going to be the one with the correct way to do things in this instance, wouldn’t saying “I trust you to handle it” be a lot better than a futile back-and-forth?  While I think it’s important to be united with your spouse, it doesn’t mean y’all have to agree on everything.

On the topic of high horses—why don’t both of you get off the high horse?  Stand next to each other as equals.  That’s what a good relationship is.  A partnership of equals. I think it’s absolute bananas that the woman is “riding behind”, but men should be so kind as to let them “whisper in his ear.”  Though he does make a good point with “if you take a wrong turn, she takes it with you”.  It works both ways.  If the two of you agree on something, and it’s wrong, you’re in the mistake together.  And women (spouses, partners, etc) deserve the esteem of the other.  But that’s the thing. They deserve respect and esteem.  Not just lip-service that their opinions have been heard.

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  • Pam

    To be fair, he was right about the first two words he used to describe how he deals with situations – they don’t come more cold and hard(hearted) than Michael Pearl.

  • I’ve met self-righteous, self-satisfied men like Michael and one thing they are not is logical and just. If they face disagreement on anything – especially if it’s a woman making the argument – they will quickly retreat to aggression and anger. Their version of logic is “because I say so”.

    • Divizna

      The only person that can get away with such reasoning is Havelock Vetinari. And that’s because:

      he states it in Latin;

      he actually wants what’s best for everybody;

      he damned well knows what he’s doing;

      to give his reasons and arguments away would be a very untactical move;

      AND, very importantly,

      he’s a fictional character.

      Unless you match those five criteria, don’t ever try it on me. Or on anyone.

  • Nea

    I agree with you there – I refused to watch until they brought in Bernadette and Amy to counterbalance.

  • liz

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • Divizna

    Haha. Funny thing, when I saw the list, my model pair of woman and man – my parents – leapt into my mind, reversing the gender of about half the traits compared to supposed consensus, and confusing most of the other half (answers “both” or “neither”) … We all know what the answers are supposed to be, but when I try to evaluate the traits on my model, the answers get “wrong”.

    And if I tried to evaluate them on my world, I got this: No significant correlation with gender for any trait. Surprise, surprise.

    So why do I even get the feeling that for a guy to like cereals is strange? Or that computer science is not for girls?

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Very awesome take on justice and mercy. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, because I recently watched a video series by a Christian Universalist (someone who believes that hell is not eternal but is more a limited refinement process so that everyone, eventually, one way or another, is reconciled to God and brought to terms with/cured of their own sin). His take on justice and mercy was very similar…the idea that God doesn’t set aside justice when he’s doling out mercy, and doesn’t set aside mercy when he’s doling out justice. The end goal is for people to become aware of and freed from sin (justice) but to also end in a good place (mercy). The two things work together.

    In my life experience, justice and mercy do indeed work together to solve problems, and excluding either one leaves the people involved feeling incomplete, or like they didn’t get closure.

  • Divizna

    Let’s try it by the list he so kindly provided.

    Is he…








    Hasty? (Okay, maybe we’ve found one trait of his…)

    Full of Grace?


    Cautious? (I lean to think so, after all he seems to use people as a shield)




    Aggressive? (Well, yes he is, but is it a virtue?)




    Full of Faith? (Er, in a sense…)




  • Mariana

    This book review in Jezebel today is a good reminder that fundamentalist Christians don’t have a monopoly on disfunctional, “traditional” relationships.

    It’s actually kind of staggering how similar the Real Housewife’s tips are to Debi’s, which underscores how the Pearl’s recipe for marriage isn’t biblical, it’s just the 1950’s vision of itself.


  • Brightie

    Um… There were maybe two or three of those where I could easily see where the stereotype was going/had a number of people I know + literary characters who would probably fit the bill. But for the most part, I didn’t even get it. Like… I wasn’t raised Pearls deep in fundie-land, but I was still raised fundie. And most of this list went right over my head. Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking of real people, or even of book-characters I kind of care about, but of the most prim and sappy possible books I have been subjected to over time? Hm…

  • Brightie

    Thank you. 🙂

  • Brightie

    “Full of grace” rang a bell, but mainly because of Mary…

    • So, it’s pretty obvious I’ve never been Christian. My very first thought was, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary …”, then I was like, wait, pretty sure that’s not who Brightie meant and besides, the Pearls don’t like contrariness.

  • Olive Markus

    “I am prone to deal with situations based on cold, hard logic and Justice. “You sow it, you reap it.” “Here are the facts, like it or lump it.” ”This makes sense to me. Either it makes sense to you, or you are ignorant or contrary.” I can hurt people feelings. I can be insensitive, not out of a feeling of maliciousness or uncaring. I just cannot fathom why anyone else would be upset by my “cutting to the chase, telling it like it is”. As a man, I have trouble walking a mile in another man’s shoes, but you would think my wife shared shoes with every suffering and and insecure person. She seems to know ahead of time how others will feel in any given circumstance. She “feels their pain”. God put his sensitiveness in the female gender, but he gave her to Adam and told him to become one flesh with the lady, depending on her as his helper.”

    I actually don’t understand this at all. Libby Anne has thoroughly been going through Debi’s book, and there isn’t a particle of empathy in her entire body, to the point that I’m certain she has no clue what “empathy” actually even means.

    If she is Michael’s empathetic, sensitive half, that is a scary, vile thought.

  • Lyric

    I think men are supposed to be creative because men are inventors or something.

    Unless “creative” refers to weak, womanly pursuits like watercolor painting. But wait! Painting with oils is manly, because Great Artists did it and also you can poison yourself!

    You’re right, it is confusing.

  • The whole “a man and woman in relationship complete each other” thing has always baffled me. These same people also believe in being virgins at marriage, and in marrying them off young. So how, exactly, is a young, inexperienced person supposed to pick that One.True.Soulmate? Or – as is more common in these families – how successful are the parents in picking the Perfect Spouse? Of all the millions of people in the world, that one person, raised in the same church, is The One? Or is it believed that God put them together?

    What makes it so much worse is that there’s no recourse for the couple if it doesn’t work out. Divorce is evil, “God put you together forever”, “be submissive”, etc. Personal desires or feelings of incompatibility aren’t even considered.

    I just don’t get it…. there’s no logic to it. On the other hand, logic never enters into the fundy picture, does it?