This is an archived copy of a post written by Conflict Of Justice ( Used with permission: Conflict Of Justice may not agree with any alterations made.

The appearance and function of the temple provides a good standard by which to judge our built environment. By examining the temple, we discover elements missing from our homes and cities.

Much like an emissary from an advancing nation who is visiting a first-world nation to glean technology that he could take back home, we find things in the temple experience that we could include in our day to day life to become more holy. One unique trait I’ve noticed about the temple is the division of spaces and activities by male and female. To a smaller degree we see this in our Sunday meeting houses as well, the division by age and sex, and with the priesthood and Relief Society spaces. Fringe bloggers deride us for our “regressive” division of members by male and female. Are they stuck in the 1950’s? Though such division was the norm centuries ago, the way gender is divided in the temple indicates our behavior is not the result of culture; there is a fundamentally spiritual reason for it.

Gender In Our Doctrine – In one respect, cultural shifts have led to something positive: we now have a structured and inarguable statement of belief regarding gender and sexual identity as laid out in the Family Proclamation. In this doctrinal statement, the church declared: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” Church leaders have fiercely stuck by the doctrine that gender is a fundamental, eternal, and unchanging trait necessary to our individual fulfillment. As popular culture drifts farther away from this doctrine, it becomes more important than ever to reinforce our eternal identities. Reinforcement is exactly the role architecture plays, and the temple therefore is an important template for us to study and emulate.

Ancient Gendered Design

In EgyptMale gods were “the oldest divine representation from ancient Egyptian temples and are sacred images of creation that all Egyptians would have recognized and understood as rebirth and creation devices, at a cosmological level.” (Graves-Brown) Female gods were then introduced into the Egyptian pantheon as the passive or chaotic principle, the “primitive matter, of itself incapable of creating.” It was the male gods who provided fecundity for creation and rebirth. This relationship of active and passive principles applied to moral laws as much as it did to physical earth creation. For example, the goddess Maat represented the “universal tenet of truth and order” as a fully female principle. The Egyptian’s legitimacy of rule required an expression of Maat, and later the wives of Amen were depicted in temple presentation scenes as providing Maat for the king.

Egyptians were interested in how one thing interacted with another thing to produce a new thing. Gendered language was the grammar of creation, mathematical equations put together in terms of male and female. They considered masculinity in this equation to be the activating principle for a system in which all parts were divine. This was why “Godhead tended to be passed to a male in the same family (roughly, same dynasty), but not inevitably so.” The king and queen were glorified together and reborn as god and goddess, and the temple layout distinguished their individual traits. Women served many of the same roles in temples as male priests, but in decidedly separate female areas. The chief priestess received the title “Divine Adoratrice of Amun” similarly to how the chief priest identified with Amun. The royal couple identified with this divine couple as husband and wife. The priests and priestesses ministered for the men and women in the temple with distinct characteristics: “Three stelae from early in the period recognize distinctions between priests and priestesses, between male and female singers, and between male and female musicians.” In formal temple design, the female sky firmament goddess Nut reflected in the building’s ceiling, female Isis who rebirthed Osiris in the reeds was reflected in the columns, and the male sun god in the obelisk. Male and female elements composed together to reflect the logic of how natural realities and religious concepts related.

Social Gender Control – In ancient Greece, gender played an even greater role in building design. The famous columns at Caryae were not only feminine in principle but literally shaped to look like female statues. Why? Well, not just to look nice.

Ancient writer Virtivius explained that the Greeks had taken “the town, killed the men, abandoned the State to desolation, and carried off their wives into slavery, without permitting them, however, to lay aside the long robes and other marks of their rank as married women, so that they might be obliged not only to march in the triumph but to appear forever after as a type of slavery, burdened with the weight of their shame and so making atonement for their State. Hence, the architects of the time designed for public buildings statues of these women, placed so as to carry a load, in order that the sin and the punishment of the people of Caryae might be known and handed down even to posterity.”

The Greeks did the same with statues of Persian men holding up the “Persian Porch”, portraying Persian war captives in a monument to their achievement beating them in war. Citizens looking “upon this ensample of their valour and encouraged by the glory of it, might be ready to defend their independence.” Architecture was thus known as a tool of social control, often on the basis of gender.

Gendered Proportions – The entire language of Greek architecture (and classic architecture of our time upon which it is based) is divided into three orders: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian. All Greek architecture makes use of these three orders, and these orders are entirely based on the male, female, and young female form. Virtrivius explained their origin: “On finding that, in a man, the foot was one sixth of the height, they applied the same principle to the column, and reared the shaft, including the capital, to a height six times its thickness at its base. Thus the Doric column, as used in buildings, began to exhibit the proportions, strength, and beauty of the body of a man.”

Geometric proportions of the man’s body thus are used to create this language. The Doric order addresses the principle of active, the Ionic passive: “Just so afterwards, when they desired to construct a temple to Diana in a new style of beauty, they translated these footprints into terms characteristic of the slenderness of women, and thus first made a column the thickness of which was only one eighth of its height, so that it might have a taller look. At the foot they substituted the base in place of a shoe; in the capital they placed the volutes, hanging down at the right and left like curly ringlets, and ornamented its front with cymatia and with festoons of fruit arranged in place of hair, while they brought the flutes down the whole shaft, falling like the folds in the robes worn by matrons.”

The Corinthian order is the result of these two parts of the equation, and represents regeneration or procreation, which becomes apparent in the story of its origins: “The third order, called Corinthian, is an imitation of the slenderness of a maiden; for the outlines and limbs of maidens, being more slender on account of their tender years, admit of prettier effect in the way of adornment… A freeborn maiden of Corinth, just of marriageable age, was attacked by an illness and passed away. After her burial, her nurse, collecting a few little things which used to give the girl pleasure while she was alive, put them in a basket, carried it to the tomb, and laid it on top thereof… the acanthus root, pressed down meanwhile though it was by the weight, when springtime came round put forth leaves and stalks in the middle, and the stalks, growing up along the sides of the basket, and pressed out by the corners of the tile through the compulsion of its weight, were forced to bend into volutes at the outer edges. Just then Callimachus passed by this tomb and observed the basket with the tender young leaves growing round it. Delighted with the novel style and form, he built some columns after that pattern for the Corinthians, determined their symmetrical proportions.” The basket at the tomb alludes to the basket of Isis in which the dead body was Osiris was placed to be reborn. The acanthus had long been known as the “sacred pillar”, and in Egypt “specifically in connection with the notion of rebirth, Helios/Sol [the sun god] is often represented rising out of acanthus.”

These three elements–male, female, child–were also reflected in the Roman altar: “Their heights are to be adjusted thus for Jupiter and all the celestials, let them be constructed as high as possible; for Vesta and Mother Earth, let them be built low.” This can be seen in medieval cathedral design where God, the Virgin Mary, and Christ child are arranged in varying heights.

Reflect Divine Gender Characteristics – The form of the Roman temple reflected the masculine and feminine traits of the gods being honored: “The temples of Minerva, Mars, and Hercules, will be Doric, since the virile strength of these gods makes daintiness entirely inappropriate to their houses. In temples to Venus, Flora, Proserpine, Spring-Water, and the Nymphs, the Corinthian order will be found to have peculiar significance, because these are delicate divinities and so its rather slender outlines, its flowers, leaves, and ornamental volutes will lend propriety where it is due. The construction of temples of the Ionic order to Juno, Diana, Father Bacchus, and the other gods of that kind, will be in keeping with the middle position which they hold; for the building of such will be an appropriate combination of the severity of the Doric and the delicacy of the Corinthian.

Gender Of Occupants – Design was also sensitive to the male and female traits of those participating in the rituals in the temple: “the fanes of Venus, Vulcan, and Mars should be situated outside the walls, in order that the young men and married women may not become habituated in the city to the temptations incident to the worship of Venus.”

Gendered Spaces In Homes – The Greek house was arranged by gender in the same way as the Greek and Egyptian temple following the same design principles. This included division of spaces. Greeks divided the entire home into spaces for men and for women: “Hereabouts, towards the in­ner side, are the large rooms in which mistresses of houses sit with their wool-spinners… and to the south, large square rooms… Men’s dinner parties are held in these large rooms; for it was not the practice, according to Greek custom, for the mistress of the house to be present. On the contrary, such peristyles are called the men’s apartments, since in them the men can stay without interruption from the women.”

The gendered Greek orders became the hard and fast rule of European design, and architects were certainly aware of their gender-based origins, following the other ancient principles of gendered design. (see Palladio’s Four Books On Architecture) The Europeans emulated the long-lost Roman methods in all they did, and gender thus formed a basis for the language of their cities, homes, and places of worship.

Gendered Spoken Language

Spoken language has involved gender just as much as architectural language has. It used to, at least. The very word “gender” was a grammatical device to differential between male and female in the spoken language–until the masters of popular culture decided to revise the word. Here is how gender was defined in the 19th century Websters dictionary versus today:

1828 Websters Dictionary 2019 Websters Dictionary 1. Properly, kind; sort. 2. A sex, male or female. Hence, 3. In grammar, a difference in words to express distinction of sex; usually a difference of termination in nouns, adjectives and participles, to express the distinction of male and female. But although this was the original design of different terminations, yet in the progress of language, other words having no relation to one sex or the other, came to have genders assigned them by custom. Words expressing males are said to be of the masculine gender; those expressing females, of the feminine gender; and in some languages, words expressing things having no sex, are of the neuter or neither gender 1a : a subclass within a grammatical class (such as noun, pronoun, adjective, or verb) of a language that is partly arbitrary but also partly based on distinguishable characteristics (such as shape, social rank, manner of existence, or sex) and that determines agreement with and selection of other words or grammatical forms b : membership of a word or a grammatical form in such a subclass c : an inflectional form (see inflection sense 3a) showing membership in such a subclass 2a : sex sense 1a the feminine gender b : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex c : gender identity

The 1828 definition makes sense. The 2019 dictionary not so much. It claims gender only relates only to a subclass of grammar and claims its basis is “arbitrary.” Arbitrary? No. A lot of linguist say the nouns are gendered arbitrarily but they aren’t; they are gendered according to the equation of what affects what to produce what. The word “gender” (as the 1828 dictionary pointed out but the 2019 dictionary fails to) stems from the Latin geno–to beget or be born–and it relates to gena, wife, and genaga, father. “Gender” therefore was divided into the same basic three categories as the Greek architectural orders: male, female, child. Male and female produce the child, which is “neutral” gendered. Gender saturated the ancient languages, and in today’s language there are still some remnants of it. In German, for example, there are male, female, and neutral pronouns for every noun. “Heaven” is he. “Sun” is she. “Car” is neutral it. In English we don’t have this. Gendered pronouns have unfortunately been erased from English but we still sometimes label things by gender–a ship can be “she” for example.

Corrupting Gender – Activists have been working hard to erase gendered pronouns from German as well. I’m actually surprised the 2019 dictionary mentions gender being a grammatical thing at all. But once we get to how the words “gender” and “sex” relate things get more dicey. In 1828, gender was one of the sexes. That’s it. Sex defined the “distinction between male and female,” and gender was one of those distinctions. Simple. In 2019, gender is now imperious over sex–not a sub-category–and furthermore gender is the behaviors, cultures, and psychologically associated with one of the sexes–aka, “gender identity”. That is an important difference from 1828. It is saying by definition sexual identity is synonymous with behavior, culture, and psychology associated with male, female, or anything else. It’s saying gender identity is not a biological rule or evolutionary distinction of nature.

The word “sex” on the other hand now focuses on biology and omits behavior, culture, and psychology. In common language, “sex” used to refer to the traits of man or woman, and “sexual relations” referred to the carnal interaction of man and woman. But some powerful people decided to revise our language so that “sex” is now defined as “female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs.” This is why “sex” has for the last several decades been about carnal interaction of anyone and anyone–it’s all about their reproductive organs. Gender thus became a construct of social and cultural roles and divided from biology so that there is no natural reality as a basis, and our biological reality became a basis for carnal interaction rather than our sexual identity as male or female. Thus, gender has progressed into a vague marker of identity and not anything to do with male/female procreation, or anything natural.

The United National globalist government has issued guidelines for gender-inclusive language for “speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity, and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.” They say to avoid “gender-biased expression” and to “use gender-neutral words.” As a rule of thumb, they say to avoid language where “reversing the designation or the term from masculine to feminine or vice versa [would] change the meaning or emphasis of the sentence.”

More and more, such genderless language is filling the dictates of government, corporations, schools and other bodies of leadership and authority, forcing people to corrupt their language. Students in school are punished for correctly speaking with gendered language. Employees are afraid of losing their livelihood if someone takes offense. Globalist policy aims to eradicate gender from the earth, and all we are left with is sexual organs.

Gender Erased From Architecture

International Style – Imagine we are all standing on a stage performing a play for an audience. The script which determines the lines we speak have been yanked from our hands and replaced with a modern politically correct version. Our costumes have been replaced with unexciting uniforms. Perhaps most importantly, the stage background has been pushed away and replaced. The stage background subtly sits back behind our heads and we don’t ever really notice it. The change of background has been slow and gradual enough that we haven’t realized the change.

While Greek architectural orders once formed the basis of every building in the west, today’s architect does not design in orders at all, much less gendered orders. The architect today patches together walls, floors, and ceilings like a Lego set, using prescriptive design that is pretty much the same around the world. “International style” is now the standard, and rarely is it interrupted by local tradition, site context, or any other consideration that would give us uniqueness. It’s the same airport where-ever you fly into. It’s quickly becoming the case that every city around the world is indistinguishable from each other, and no distinction of gender is made because no consideration of human form is ever considered. We are in an age of “equality.”

Bathroom Building Codes – The gender characteristics of occupants are prevented from being considered even if the architect wanted to. Governmental building codes literally forbid it in most cases. To change our social roles, the government has changed expectations built into the environment using building code. Similar legal tactics are to be witnessed censoring local tradition and uniqueness in all sorts of ways: the ten commandments banned from the courtroom, the founding fathers banned from universities, Christian Christmas displays banned from city centers.

Government focus on gendered architecture gained movement in 1987 with the passage of The Women’s Restroom Bill, which dictated that men’s and women’s restrooms must be designed the same way. “Bathroom bills” in law are in response to the idea that “restrooms have been the site of institutional discrimination by race, physical ability, and gender.” Professor of Equality Jurisprudence Taunya Lovell Banks said in a Berkeley paper: “One can measure the degree of equality between the sexes in America by its public toilets.” Back when there were pay-toilets, women often had to pay to use public stalls while men didn’t have to pay for urinals (men did have to pay for stalls) because urinals were easier to clean. Is that fair? Women’s restrooms have had longer lines because urinals in male restrooms took up less space and thus more can fit in the same size space (plus it is quicker to use a urinal). Is that fair? Taunya Lovell Banks asks: “Would it really be unreasonable to require by law that public restrooms be constructed to accommodate the same number of users?” She maintains that “most women, and a few men, have been thoroughly indoctrinated into believing that toilet seats spread all kinds of diseases… As a result, many of us still squat over rather than sit on public toilet seats.” That can be uncomfortable, particularly for “a large woman”, so logically there needs to be more laws about the spacing and dimensions in restrooms. The equality crowd says there needs to be twice as many toilets for women and for men “due to biological differences,” and that other than sanitary napkins and other such amenities for women, it all needs to be equal.

Before these laws arrived, restrooms were very different. Women’s restrooms were “designed to mimic the comforts of home—think curtains and chaise lounge.” Women were used to restrooms with couches, lighting for make-up, hangers, baby amenities, door looks and walled-off stalls, etc. But the “progressive” position is that men have tried to keep women home and away from the “workplace” by providing them shoddy restrooms, and the couches, makeup amenities, baby amenities, etc. are what women have at home–therefore they need to go. Men’s restrooms had no walled-off stalls or partitions, but that allows for more toilets to fit in the space, so they need to be put in stalls just like the women. A person in the 1800’s was used to a restroom that catered not only to their sex’s biological functions but unique behavior of their sex. If a person from the 1800’s stepped into a modern public restroom they would think they were stepping into a spaceship–cold, sterile, and inhuman.

Oh, restrooms may be a small thing, sure. It’s just a restroom. But since 1987, the slippery slope has now led to genderless restrooms that have nothing to do with male or female at all. At Target they don’t care if men go in women’s restrooms. The 1987 movement to eliminate this gendered architecture was so successful that the most obvious architectural distinction of gender that building could respond to is just about wiped out completely. As the movement has spread to other architectural elements, elimination of gender from architecture is now almost complete.

Focus On The Home – Equality activists have carefully studied gendered design that they might eliminate it from our environment. They found greatest efficacy by focusing on the home.

“Long understood as an axis of gender inequality, home is also seen as a site for the making of class, racial and ethnic identities; a a space of negotiation and resistance as well as oppression and a place where such relationships are undone as well as made.”

Sexuality and Gender at Home: Experience, Politics, Transgression, Rosie Cox & Victor Buchli

Our Family Proclamation suggests attacks on the home will lead to grave consequences in our society: “Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” We talk about social changes in the modern family and radical campaigns to alter traditional principles, but have we stopped to consider the very house itself is being altered to condition us away from the traditional family? Have we looked over our shoulders to notice that they have pulled away the traditional house stage set and replaced it with scenery antithetical toward a healthy family? They have worked hard to make it a seamless transition. Just like with restrooms, if someone from the 1800’s stepped into a modern house they would be appalled at the cold, sterile, inhuman atmosphere. They would think it is a dog kennel, not a house, because houses for humans are supposed to respond to human needs, desires, responsibilities, and aspirations. And all of those human conditions are unique according to community, sex, age, etc. But today it is the same blah house pieced together like a Lego set wherever you go, and it is stripped of considerations like gender for the sake of equality.

The degendering of the house is more significant than the restroom, because the house is the most primitive and personal architectural setting upon which our identities depend.

If you get a chance to visit historical houses, take note of what is different with any house over a century old from today. You will notice rooms were separated by many walls and doors unlike the open floorplan popular these days. You will see wallpaper patters that set a particular mood in each room. You will notice the sitting rooms which were used by men has a unique style. Gathering spaces were designed for interaction while today they facilitate TV entertainment consumption. As I peruse up-end real estate in Utah, is it coincidence that almost all have huge movie rooms? Why do they look like hotels rather than houses? As you peruse through these historic houses, imaging daily life and ponder how the countless hours spent in such a structure would add up to a profound difference in your consciousness and behavior.

Housing Projects – Social justice proponents understand how consciousness is shaped by setting, and they study very hard “issues of social justice and seek to challenge narrow views of the home as a site constituted, occupied, and performed by ‘appropriately’ gendered and sexed bodies.” They believe sexual identity is a construct of conditioning. Instead of family interaction their sterile and genderless designs facilitate consumerism. Instead of personalized homes, they want parents to be in a cubicle working long hours as a productive worker for a corporation. The “house” becomes a concrete unit in a massive housing project, like the housing projects built by Modernists in the 1960’s which replaced neighborhoods of houses: “The grandiloquence of these projects embodies the architectural optimism of the era, and the architects’ firm belief in modernist narratives of progress and universalisation. The schedules of accommodation represent an extreme rationalisation of society and impose patters of behavior whose aim is the optimisation of economic productivity.” (Felipe Hernández)

The man who invented the idea of housing projects, Le Corbusier, wanted to divide the entire concept of a house into economic vs. spiritual design: “In Le Corbusier’s Vers une architecture, certainly the best known argument for a modern, machine-inspired architecture, there already exists this opposition between that which is determined by economic and utilitarian evaluation, and that which is determined by an inherited architectural order. In this, the book is almost schizophrenic–alternating chapters championing first the engineer, the rational process of selection by economic criteria, the house as ‘a machine for living in,’ and then the architect, the creation of corms of a spiritual order, ‘the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light.’ While Le Corbusier in the end attempted to assert the dominance of the historical discipline of architecture, technological thinking was in fact increasingly dominant in the definition of the modern world–and in the definition of architecture as it was to exist in that world.” (Pamphlet Architecture 12: Building; Machines, Robert McCarter)

I think we all can agree there is very little “spiritual” in the 1960’s housing projects. They are concrete warehouses for people, a perfectly economical solution to the need for people to have a place to sleep and eat. With the successful isolation of human and spiritual concerns in the schedule of concerns in house design, Modernists little by little pushed them farther and farther down the page. They made it so that “the substructures of these buildings are determined solely by technological and economic criteria while the skins responded to the change of fashion, here clearly understood as a masking device.” Human needs are solved with a skin of paint on the outside, that’s it.

This idea goes back to before Le Corbusier. Back in the 1840’s, Bötticher claimed “that the elements of the Greek orders constituted a complex formal language in which each part only expressed its function symbolically, but also alluded to the meaning of the larger scheme. Each part was conceived as having a structural or constructional function (its core-form) that was dressed in a sophisticated artistic veil (its art-form) articulating its purpose… Semper further argued that the most sophisticated use of the dressing motif took place in classic Greece, where–in line with his polychrome conception of the Greek temple–paint became the newest and ‘subtlest, most bodiless coating,’ not only dressing the temple’s appearance, but also ‘masking’ the materiality of stone, thereby letting it become pure form.” (Otto Wagner)

By dividing core function from the art form, Bötticher found he could give artistic merit by simply throwing paint on a finished building. Reduce a building to simple warehouse to save on cost and then paint some ornamentation over it to make it look fancy. The problem with this is paint is cheap, and because economic concerns are so dominated by those in control, it is easy for them to dismiss spiritual and human needs with little or no concern by making it an issue of throwing some paint on the outside of the building. Modernists began to question why there needs to be paint at all–just let it be a product of economic concerns. Let it be a warehouse and leave paint for paintings in a museum. Save a little money.

Then, the Post-Modernists, to their credit, realized you can’t just forget about artistic value. It’s not all about economic function; their are human needs. They addressed those human needs in a formal program alongside economic needs in a scientific way. Well, the problem with that is they came away with a scientific solution, and it was still separate from economic program. But moreso I think the problem was the ideology behind the moral basis for their program. They imposed their moral values which often opposed traditional gender definition.

Plenty of Modernists fought against this trend in modern architecture to remove human and spiritual issues, but it seems almost inevitable that the economic interests of those in charge win in the end. Take a look at the trend in California’s Bay Area right now. Many corporations provide living units for their workers because prices are so high, which is essentially a return to the Feudalism of the Middle Ages. Well, to be fair, factories have historically provided barracks for their workers. That was a major source of resentment for Industrialism in 19th century America, in fact: big textile mills were recruiting thousands of young women of marrying age to move away from their country homes and live in city tenement halls. But today in the Bay Area you are lucky to get that. Many live in tiny “pods” that are essentially bunk bed spots. Many are totally homeless–yet they have jobs. Feudalism would be a step up for what they experience.

There’s only so much space to go around. Not everyone can get a house in a city. Well, the point is not the size of the living space but the function of it. Visit the cabins from early church history or any lower or middle-class home from back then–they were tiny. Families of ten to twenty people fit into a house the size of a modern family’s living room, and it’s not like they were hurting for space to build on in the wild frontier. Today, immigrant families cram into tiny spaces and manage to live successful lives–perhaps in some ways because they live in small spaces. The reason is their concept of a house has not been perverted by modern western culture, and the building conditions facilitate a healthy family environment that speaks to unique identities. We may be restricted by building codes, finances, and leasing agreements–you can’t put up wallpaper in an apartment, for example. But there is still a lot we can do, and if you walk into a Latter-day Saint home you will see the difference. We are not stuck in the 1800’s and yet our homes exude the personalization and social health that most today are missing.

Theodor Adorno lamented: “Dwelling, in the proper sense is now impossible… The house is past.”

Let him see our homes!

Tool Of Class Warfare – Richard McCormick made gendered architecture a class warfare issue: “It is indeed striking to observe how the political, psychological and aesthetic discourse around the turn of the century consistently and obsessively genders mass culture and the masses as feminine, while high culture, whether traditional or modern, clearly remains the privileged realm of male activities.” Today’s popular sentiment is to treat the role of house-wife as less lofty than working in a cubicle. In order to move women into the corporate workforce instead of home, it makes sense that the workplace needs to be more inviting and enticing for women, and following this logic it is therefore necessary to deconstruct male architecture from this from “high culture” buildings. Then what? Replace it with feminine architecture? Then you would have the same problem the other way around. Masculine and feminine together in a composed logic that speaks to cause and effect like ancient Egyptian designers did? Come on, let’s not be silly! Many would be offended by that as well.

Today’s Architectural Social Imposition – In Freudian psychology, it is believed that a father’s role is to teach his child that it is a separate entity than its mother. Henri Wallon’s “theory of the mirror stage” in 1936 claimed a young baby does not see itself as separate from its surroundings. When the baby starts to identify as male or female, he said, the baby starts to self-identify and looks to the mother for its identity. The male father in his own lust for the mother imposes the “law of the father” that prevents this, and the baby is forced to develop communication with the outside world to construct an identity. The father is therefore a symbol for the force that pressures us to be individuals and mingle with the outside world, while the mother is the desire to unite.

That’s the theory, anyway. We fundamentally disagree with this theory because we believe gender is a characteristic we brought with us from pre-mortal life, and that we developed all sorts of characteristics to identify with before birth. It is an interesting narrative psychologists developed to explain intrinsic traits, but those who fight against gendered architecture don’t like it and they have made it a strawman narrative to tear down gender completely. Suddenly, gender becomes a confining cage that we need to deny to become free. The phallus shape in architecture becomes their symbol of this social control, like the Caryatid column, that women need to tear down. Because they misunderstand where gender comes from and how architecture relates to it, they want to destroy gendered design for the sake of freedom. They look at the soaring steeples of our temples with resentment while in truth the steeples would lift them to a higher and happier life.

The “great and spacious building” of which we read in scripture may be compared to the interruptive father symbol in Freud’s theory, high and lifted up in the air, seeking to separate us from our natural creator. But he go one thing backwards. It is a false father and therefore does not provide a unique identity–what the false father leads us to is assimilation and lack of personal agency, stripping away gendered eternal traits we have had since the pre-mortal life. Consider the modern office building with its cookie-cutter design and layout with everyone stuffed into cubicles like animals in cages. Contrast this with our Latter-day Saint meeting houses, which although they do look much all the same and although congregations do sit as a group together, the architecture of our churches expound on true individuality and support unique personal traits. Our steeples do not tear us away from our natural creator but represent the ladder to heaven that helps us return there as unique individuals. This interruptive device does not replace the father of the home but empowers him.

The functions of gender which we saw in ancient design has been erased: No more proportions based on the human body. No more consideration of occupants’ needs based on gender. No consideration of divine traits by gender. But there certainly is one function of gender that remains today: social control. Like the Caryatid column which pressured women to submit to social control, structured propaganda devices oppress us today, often by gender. Those who crusade against gendered architecture are correct to recognize this; the problem is they often misplace the source. Oppression does not come from traditional homes that support traditional parental roles. “Workplace” design that likewise supports traditional identity is not the problem. They resent the natural and healthy roles of gender which liberates and turn a blind eye to corporate-fueled genderless design that places everyone in cages.

The Caryatid columns of today are porn, billboards, art installations, perverse movie plots, television shows, store displays, political parades, music concerts, posters–there are all sorts of environmental influences pressuring an oppressive gendered environment and warping our self-conception. Their method has been to deconstruct healthy design and replace it with such unhealthy elements.

The movie industry today is largely based on superhero movies. Well, other than clothing that over-emphasizes their sexual image, how well do these movies portray gender? They don’t. Not at all. Women and men punch people with equal strength. They tell the same jokes and have the same personalities. They are equal as leaders, equal needs, equal desires, equal nurturers, equal responsibilities. Swap any male and female superhero’s figure with their character and you end up with the same things. The image is just paint thrown on, no true unique identity. As a result, there are no aspirational gendered figures in the media today. Yet those who get upset about sexually provocative outfits often attack traditional gender portrayals instead of seeking them. If they had their way there would be zero sex or gender qualities at all. But as it is, people focus on sexual image because every other indication of gender has been erased. Our culture has become hypersexual because when gender is erased, sexual organs are all we have left.
by Jeremy Levine Designon flickr (creative commons license)

Modernism’s Assault On Gender In The Home – You can see the struggle for gendered design in modern housing. Frank Lloyd Wright in his autobiography boasted that he “set new standards for American architecture” with his Alice Millard house, which instead of focusing on family and natural identity made the house a “showroom for her rare book and antique business.” He called the house “nothing less than a distinctly genuine expression of California in terms of modern industry and American life.”

Take a look at the house. It looks like an art museum or fancy office building–a beautiful building, to be sure, but not a space for an average American family.

With the Farnsworth House by architect Mies van der Rohe, it is “clear that gender and sexuality played an unusually prominent role.” The architect wanted a house free of all program input–essentially a glass box. The client Farnsworth, a single woman, insisted on some privacy and feminine features, and so the glass box ended up having curtains, a couple wooden interior walls, and some concealed spaces. It settles into the natural surroundings as a feminine house would, but then there is a large front porch that looks like a theater stage, suggesting an exhibitionist space. There is stark contrast between the owner’s insistence on some human program versus the architect’s focus, which was not only on genderless utilitarian design but the opposite of a feminine space for a female client. This was picked up on by trendy architects of the day and became the new big thing.
by Mark B. Schlemmeron flickr (creative commons license)

Even before the Farnsworth House was complete, Post-Modernist Philip Johnson referenced it in his own glass box house, but he made it reference “gay culture in his use of ironic questions and popular motifs.” Philip Johnson made his house even more open to the surroundings than Mies did–totally exhibitionist and voyeuristic–a total rebuke to the traditional role of the house as confining and protecting the family separate from the outside world. Near it, he ironically placed a brick structure that concealed away from the surroundings, but not in order to contain a family identity. The vaulted ceilings of the closed brick building referenced a holy church, but under the vaulting was soft cloth interior elements and a sensual bed. This aberrant sexual fantasy space spoke to the “differences in private life (notably of gender identity and sexual orientation).”

Farnsworth’s glass house made her feel “exposed” like an “x-ray,” while Philip Johnson’s house intentionally flipped expectations of gender and confused how material and design respond, and the most personal intimate space–the bed–became an tool of sexual pleasure, even referencing spiritual aesthetic to facilitate that.

With these projects, the traditional role of confining the family morally and spiritually was thrown out the window and the outside world was invited to gain influence over the family’s definition. This became a trend in modern upscale housing, and now the lack of privacy and personalization in our living spaces leave them feeling more like prison cells rather than a sexual paradise.
by moptoppon flickr (creative commons license)

Le Corbusier’s Rietveld Schröderhuis house “offered its users a new environment in which to redefine family life” devoid of traditional gender, or traditional anything, by establishing a “modern consciousness, a sense that daily life and values were staged.” This was a design that would, like the Farnsworth and Philip Johnson houses, “shape and redefine the course of modern architecture.” (Alice T. Friedman) The Schröder house is a jumble of wall rectangles and windows slipping and sliding all over. You feel like you can grad any wall and move it wherever you want; nothing is permanent or set in place. Like the Farnsworth and Philip Johnson houses, the house became a stage to exhibit yourself rather than a nest to create and foster identity. It is much easier for our popular culture masters to shift stage sets behind us if our homes have no space for family interaction, but uses that space instead to consume popular entertainment and show off your antique business to your friends.

Creating Your Own Home – In many traditional native cultures and particularly nomad civilizations around the world, the man created the structure of the house while the woman furnished the inside. The tribe provided parameters to work within and the couple established the home together based on their values and relationship. But in today’s age of mass-produced housing developments, there is little personalization. You get whatever the wealthy foreign prospectors haven’t grabbed up. Even if you can afford a custom design, the architects intentionally challenge inherent gendered needs such as a woman’s desire for privacy. There is little separation of gendered spaces–the very thought of it offends us. We watch old classic films like Gone With The Wind and laugh nervously when the men talk politics downstairs and the women take afternoon naps. We chuckle when we drive down the street and see that guy sitting in his garage watching sports on TV.

The Man Cave – The man cave is a fossil of the ancient gendered house. Not even a fossil–an artist’s rendering of what it may have looked like. The man consumes TV entertainment to feel a sense of masculine activities. He probably is alone in his garage, no other men with him. But you know what? At least he has some kind of gendered space. At least he is doing something to preserve this necessary element of his surroundings. Does it really matter if it’s in a garage? Other guys put up with unnatural surroundings, or get a truck to feel it. The man cave is an important start.

It is not unreasonable to sit down with your spouse and talk about how to alter your home to make it respond to individual traits and bring together the family as a relationship apart from the outside world. Think about what masculine and feminine spaces you will need–the walk-in closet, the garage, the shed, the study, the crafts room, etc. Talk about spaces that incorporate both masculine and feminine and how to achieve that–the bedroom, the kitchen. Finally, consider how that relationship results in a “child” space bringing the family together: living room, dining room. Make your environment work for you, however you want to gender it, and make it a place to raise healthy children in. Resist the urge to make it just a matter of pink or blue paint on the walls or some decorations. Make the very structure all about your human traits and aspirations.

Gender In The Temple – People who tour through our temple open houses often are surprised at the large size of the women’s bridal room. A bridal room for the woman is unexpected to begin with, but the resources dedicated to it are notable. Why not just have a dressing room for anyone to use that the bride can use? The dedication of this space to this function speaks to the holiness of this gender role. Why aren’t there bridal rooms in our houses? I don’t know. Maybe there should be.

The different clothing we wear by gender in the temple speaks to our gendered functions as well. The clothing is closely related to the building design and reflected in the architecture. I wish I could talk about how it is so, but it is a sacred subject not to be discussed here. Just think about it.

The classic Greek orders are to be seen in our temples. I have only seen one instance of the Ionic–feminine–column; feminine design appears to be the domain of interior design rather than structure. But Doric and Corinthian styles adorn the walls of many temples.

Gender can be seen in our temples as a relationship of private/public space, sturdy/slim structure, bare/adorned surface, soft/hard material, dominant/subservient space, geometric/expressive design, separation of activities, indications of divine gendered traits, and relationships of the sexes in the activities inside. Modern political pressure unfortunately prevents our temples from engaging gender to the degree ancient holy temples did, but it still retains as a whole lots of positive design which we can appreciate and emulate in our own homes. The pressure to remove gender from our environment isolates us and turns the home into an empty box, a jail cell. It turns us into a cog, part of a machine working for some money-making business or government. Turn this around and embrace your eternal traits, and establish a universe that celebrates who you are.

Categories: Apologetics