Before we get too deep into “Sayso or Sense” by Eileen Gibbons Kump, allow me to quote from the sixth page?
But that night she had a dream. God was conducting priesthood meeting and Grandpa and Israel and the carpenter were on the front row, hanging on every word. God said when they came to earth, men could have their choice–sayso or sense–but they couldn’t have both because that wouldn’t be fair to the women. He called a vote and Grandpa’s hand shot up for sayso before God had finished speaking. Amy awoke, sure the choice had been unanimous. By daylight she had decided that, God approving, she had no alternative but to leave the men to their folly.
This is by far the shortest story in the book so far and I encourage you to read it now before scrolling down any further.
Eileen Gibbons Kump is the first author we’ve read whose name I don’t think I recognize. I don’t know anything of her bibliography and I’m curious because this story has a decidedly feminist bent and I wonder if this is a recurring theme or not.
The story succeeded in getting me to want to yell at and possibly strike the pov’s husband and father-in-law (if the story had been any longer than it was, this might have become unbearable). The way her father-in-law takes over the building of the house and, through his superior wisdom, manages to screw everything up, is horribly frustrating, and imagining living the rest of my life in this wrongly made house just because the patriarch knew better frustrated me plenty.
I was reminded of what Zelophehad’s Daughters call the Chicken Patriarchy and I was left wondering how well this story approximates the 2012 experience of being a Mormon woman. Or, on the other hand, if the notion of maintaining sense when denied sayso is exactly what Chicken Patriarchy is all about.
(I’ll have to see if I can get some of the ZDs over here to comment.)
In the meantime, you’ve read “Sayso and Sense” now. What do you think?