The church has recently released a 9 minute video called “You Never Know.”
It features what must be assumed to be a single mom who is trying very hard to get her to do list done so she can meet her cousin at the airport to spend the evening with her. But her to do list keeps getting longer, and she says yes to it all:
- Her son forgets he has a Science Fair project to put together, the morning of the Science Fair (which they miraculously get done on time – it appears everything but gluing the papers onto the tri-fold board was already done), and then as she drops him off at school he almost forgets it, natch.
- She is trying to take some sort of weird photo of her toddler for maybe Pinterest or something. Not sure. The toddler keeps moving, as toddlers do. I have no idea what this part was about or why she was taping newspaper to the walls. Is this normal?
- Her apparently bitchy career-oriented sister calls her to have a “me, me, me” conversation with her over lunch in the park. Because obviously a woman with a career who isn’t slaving all day in domestic servitude must be the most selfish human on the planet, yet she somehow has time to go natter on endlessly about herself in a park with her harried sister.
- Another mom comes by with no notice to ask if she can leave her daughter with her just as she is leaving the house. The woman seems distraught, and while she hasn’t exhausted all other options, main mom in the video says she has things to do at home anyway. Liar! And goes back in the house with the other woman’s daughter.
- Someone asks her to make dinner for another family. She adds this to her burgeoning to-do list also. When the time comes to cook it, she is already running late to meet her cousin. She waits the 30 minutes for it to cook, and then realizes the oven wasn’t turned on, so it takes another 30 (realistically it’s going to be longer than that if the oven wasn’t even turned on). Then she (with kids hanging all over her) drops it off to a seemingly able-bodied young man who answers the door.
- She rushes home, gives fifty instructions to the babysitter, then rushes out, only to come back in 5 minutes later because she has completely missed her cousin. The day is coming to a close.
- She is short-tempered and crying silently about missing her cousin, and her kids want to say prayers. Her son makes a reference to winning the Science Fair (Did I hear that right? If so, I cry BS.). Suddenly she has an epiphany that she really did do many great services all day, so it doesn’t matter that she had a non-stop awful day. It doesn’t exactly tie it back to her missed items on her to-do list because she basically did everything that other people needed, with the exception of meeting her cousin, but nothing that was for her.
Here’s the video for your perusal.
I have no doubt that the makers of the video had good intentions: showing women that they have made a difference for others, that their sacrifices are appreciated, that the kindnesses we do to other make a lasting difference to people. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The video was incredibly hard to watch.
There are quite a few scary messages in the video that are not overtly stated. Here are a few:
- This is some weird alternate reality with no men. There is literally no male support in any of these women’s lives, either moral support or actual assistance.
- If the main woman is a single mom, which appears to be the case, who is paying for this? How does she have a nice home and kitchen with no income?
- If she’s married, why doesn’t she ever call her life partner to talk about her impossible situation? Why does she require a babysitter in the evening to meet her cousin at the airport?
- Why can’t the man who answered the door to take the meal make dinner? Or order a pizza? He doesn’t look incapable of calling Pizza Hut.
- The career woman sister is portrayed very negatively, a taker, a contrast to her incredibly giving and selfless sister. Is this really necessary? So, let me get this straight. Career women are horrible people. Got it.
- The woman who needs her to watch her daughter for a few hours at the last minute likewise has no male resources. Neither one of them can think of a man who would be in any way willing or capable to help out, not even the child’s father. I thought this was another single mother, but then a later scene shows her at the doctor’s office with a man who was her same age, so I assumed that was supposed to be her husband.
- She also didn’t say why she needed the help and was ready to walk away. Why not? Does this imply that the harried blond woman, the heroine, must not only be 100% selfless but also capable of reading minds?
The video paints an exhausting portrait of this poor woman’s day. I was exhausted just watching it. I still feel stressed out by it. Although the message presented at the end is meant to be encouraging, it felt doubly tiring to hear yet another male voice telling women how we should be. The person who does the task 90% of the time should get 90% of the say in how it is done. We can’t preach total gender task separation and then have only men telling people how to do their roles.
Instead, I prefer this quote by Chieko Okazaki:
“Many Mormon women do not have clear boundaries for themselves. They feel a sense of confusion about who they are, because many competing voices lay claim to them and they try to accommodate them all. For example, when I became a member of the Relief Society general presidency, I was appalled at how many women were tormented by guilt about their responsibilities as mothers. They seemed unable to see a boundary between themselves and their children. . . .
It is a strength for women to be able to cross their own boundaries easily when they are meeting the needs of their children and serving others, but it is a great disadvantage when they feel every call for service as an imperative which they are obligated to meet. Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.”
What did you think?
- Why are there no men? Are men completely exempt from helping out at home? Are there women like this who never see a man from dawn to dusk?
- Is it selfish to say no or just selfish if women say no?
- Is there an alternate ending to the video featuring a murder-suicide? It would practically write itself.
- Does this video help women feel more appreciated? Does it make them want to serve more?
- What about the poor cousin stuck at the airport? Isn’t that kind of awful? Why were her needs less important than the husband who was incapable of preparing a meal for his own family?