Sunday, February 17, 2013

Working Moms part 2: Selling my soul

I HATE babies…can you tell?
It was my last year at BYU and I was taking a marriage and family class (sounds kind of funny now and so BYU!) from a well known faculty member, an “expert” on the subject who has even published a number of books. One of our assignments in the class was to write papers periodically throughout the semester on marriage and family topics (duh). I wrote a paper on the topic at hand…my pull to go into dentistry, a demanding career, and my fears about balancing this with marriage and children in the future.
One day in class shortly after I wrote the paper, my teacher stood in front of the class. He mentioned, “One of your classmates wrote in her paper how she wants to be a dentist. You know (as he laughed in a snarky way), if she never gets married, that’s great! Be a dentist! Get all the education you can. But only if no one wants to marry her. HA HA HA!” Although this wasn’t exactly what was said (except the part about “no one wanting to marry her”), his comments were very much to the effect that as long as “she” was an old maid this was an okay way to go. But only until this was proven.
I was very upset as I felt he was calling me out in front of the whole class. Yes, I knew I was basically anonymous but I felt betrayed and embarrassed that he would use my paper in a public way to humiliate me. I felt like he was implying I had to be unmarriageable or I was making a wrong choice-- the only possible way to follow my prompting to further my education was to be an old maid. And I was angry that he acted like the choice I was making was a big joke. At this point I felt very confident spiritually that I had been led to follow through with my dental school applications. I emailed him stating that I was upset he would use me as an example in that way in front of the class and that he seemed to be implying I was making an inappropriate choice which wasn’t his place. I told him that I was grateful I knew he didn’t receive spiritual inspiration for me but that I was worried other women would disregard their own personal revelations because of something they felt an “authority” said in the wrong.
He emailed me back and “apologized.” He said he wasn’t talking about me but another girl who wanted to be a dentist, “But now that we are talking about you” he had spoken to some of his colleagues and they agreed that “Why would God tell a 20 year old girl to go to dental school?” (Evidently the belief that God appeared to Joseph Smith, a 14 year old boy, is totally within the realm of possibilities but Him giving revelation to a young woman about her career was out of the question?) He said I should “continue on the dental path” another few years (I was already at the end!) and THEN if I wasn’t married to go for it (I guess at that point I would be unmarriageable? at age 21 or 22). He told me about how when he was a missionary in Iowa (ironic to me now, as at this point I had no idea I would end up in Iowa), Chiropractics was really en vogue and he thought he should be a chiropractor. But now that he is in his career that fulfills his patriarchal blessing (a blessing we get in our church with guidance about our lives) he knows that the idea to be a chiropractor was from Satan, and I should seriously consider where I was receiving my inspiration. Yeah, the prophets have said to “get all the education you can” but I was obviously being misguided. Oh, and I really should make a big decision like this with my husband. (So I can’t go to dental school if I am married, but I also need to find him so I could ask him if it was okay?) It would be unfair to him to not have input in such a big decision.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a husband to ask.
So I was left with no choice but to ask Beelzebub himself!
And my teacher, being so inspired, was on to me.
Good thing he didn’t know that I had to make a pact with the evil one himself to get in. He may have got me kicked out of BYU a few weeks shy of graduation!

Next Time: My plan to end up on top!


Your Biggest Supporter and Partner In Evil said...

That is a memory that still burns my britches. Ha!

Erin said...

That makes sense as being close to the devil gets pretty hot!

Anonymous said...

Loving this. Your byu professor is full of himself. Idon't think he ever lived in the real world. In the real world there are a lot of women who are members of the church that work and have kids. It's hard to stay home these days, its hard to live on one income. in reality the women who stay home and the women that work actually support each other in many ways, through babysitting and through friendship. It works out great and makes both happy. Some women like working and it helps them fulfill their life in a way that keeps them from being depressed. Staying home or working is a personal choice. I have a friend who is a lawyer who works parttime and has 5 kids, the first she had in law school. Her unmarried sister babysits her kids when she's working. It works great for them. You should tell your professor that. When you have your kids make the best choice for you and don't worry what others say, think, or feel. Sorry I have to post under anonymous I can't get my profile to work. shannon jerez

Claire said...

Great post. I have had similar stories, not of BYU professors but from family members and friends. I think that at this point, the Lord is working through you to serve every patient you see and that is why you were inspired to follow through with dentistry. I had personal spiritual experiences that confirm to me that frequently Mormon biases against women working are antiquated and unrealistic. Though a woman at home is a great way to set up family life, there are many variations on the theme that are beautiful. I believe this is how the Lord works. He speaks to us individually and through inspired leaders (that we seek out, a BYU professor is not acting in a priesthood authority position) about our potential. And we find joy through finding the balance between service and family in whatever way we decide to set up family life.

Erin said...

Hi Shannon and Claire, thanks so much for commenting! I love to hear other people's perspectives on these things. I totally agree Shannon that we should be helping each other as women no matter how we choose to spend our time. I would be interested to hear more of your own personal experiences on this Claire!

Tawnya said...

Wow, that is so unfortunate! That is so sad you had to go through all that!

michele said...

Hey Erin, I don't spend a lot of time reading blogs but you piqued my interest on facebook.

I was shocked to read about this incident with your BYU professor! It made me so angry that I had to make myself cool off for a couple of days before I commented. I guess I've been away from BYU and Utah long enough that I totally forgot about people who behave that way.

That professor owes you a serious apology, whoever he is. One of these days you should write to him!