The dignity of your womanhood...

"Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand beside us, fight with us."  Christabel Pankhurst, Suffragette. 

Yesterday Jezebel published an article titled "Mormon Women are Admired, But Still Not Equal to Men."   I agreed with the article, simply because I find the author Katie J.M. Baker's assertions to be true: "who wants to be different if different means treated as lesser than?"

However, both  Mormon Feminists and non-Feminists disagreed with aspects of the article. Queen of all the Mormon Feminists, Joanna Brooks, referred  to the article as "mildly condescending," claiming that the article did not truly reflect the attitude of Mormon Feminists when Baker hinted that one truly cannot be a feminist and a Mormon simultaneously.

I like to consider myself a Mormon Feminist, most of the time. Mostly, because I consider myself a Mormon by birth, culture, and tradition, and a feminist by common sense and self-respect. But in the short-time I've spent participating in the Mormon Feminist movement (speaking at Conferences, writing articles for various publications, blogging, and podcasting,) I've found myself thinking treasonous thoughts about the movement I otherwise love and respect.

With the perseverance I formally reserved for clinging to my faith, I find myself trying not to doubt the  Mormon Feminist movement. But I can't ignore what I see. At conferences, I see women, often the same women who started the conferences forty years ago, discussing the same issues I find troubling. Modesty, lack of female ordination, the lack of support extended to non-traditional thinkers, the church's systematic excommunication of people who disagree. 

The same fight, generation after generation. Petitions signed and sent, marches organized, pamphlet's distributed. 

As Mormons and Feminists, we are desperate to play nice with the establishment. We don't want to be perceived as unfaithful, because the minute you cross into apostasy, no one hears your voice. We want to rock the boat, but not capsize it. We love Mormonism, and our love causes us to tread softly, bowing our head against blow after blow from the patriarchy.

But are we moving forward, Mormon Feminists? Year after year, I sit in yet another conference, on yet another panel, and still a woman does not offer the opening prayer in General Conference. Our Heavenly Mother remains ignored in her churches, and our petitions to the First Presidency ignored.

Perhaps we could learn a lesson from our suffragist sisters, who, like Mormon women who love their church, loved their country enough to change it. 

But they did not succeed with petitions podcasts, and conferences, they won the vote only after concentrated and active civil disobedience. They won only after love for themselves, and for their dignity, matched their love for their country. 

In 1848 the first Women's Rights Conference was held in Seneca Falls, outlying the goals and concerns of American women. In 1866  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the American Equal Rights Association, an organization dedicated to universal suffrage.

It wasn't enough. The conferences, the petitions, the marches, none of them granted women the right to vote.

Not until women openly opposed the President of the United States, and chained themselves to the gates of the White House, did people start to listen. You can ignore a petition, but you can't ignore the woman chained to your front gate. 

the Suffragists won when they stopped playing "nice." Many were arrested, many saw them as traitors for protesting the President when the country was at war, their devotion to their country questioned, and their freedom to speak as Americans denied.

But by 1920, a mere three years after Alice Paul's first act of civil disobedience by picketing the White House, women gained the right to vote.

As it turns out, the Suffragists weren't traitors, but liberators. 

Can you imagine what would happen if the Mormon Feminist movement stopped playing nice? If faithful, devoted women stood as Silent Sentinels outside the gates of the Church Office Building. If the women who loved the church enough to face accusations of apostasy and potential excommunication organized a sit-out, so that one Sunday no Mormon Feminists came to church. If we stopped organizing Friends of Scouting banquets until our daughters sat at the table, likewise recognized for their own accomplishments.

History has proven that civil disobedience works. Martin Luther King Jr., Alice Paul, Harvey Milk, and countless others faced accusations of treason when they apostatized from the status quo because they loved their country. 

Our Mormon Feminist ancestors have set the stage. Their conferences and petitions have created a beautiful community of women and men who love the church, but want to make it better. But there comes a point where petitions devolve to groveling, conferences resort to begging, and appeals are simply silenced.

We need to remember the dignity of our womanhood. We need to honor the Mormon tradition of not just asking questions, but starting revolutions. Starting new churches and new traditions that honor our Heavenly Parents even when the establishment condemns us as heretics. 

""Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand beside us, fight with us." 

Mormon feminists, I think it is time for some good old-fashioned Civil Disobedience.

This post is dedicated to my friends Natalie and Amber, whose texts and Facebook comments woke me up from a nap and inspired me to write.


Karen E. said...

I understand your frustration. Change in the LDS church is slow--so slow that it can be maddening and make you want to pull your hair out. But it took nearly a century for women to get the vote. It didn't just happen because a few women chained themselves to the white house. There were many, many other factors that led politicians to grant women the right to vote. World War I was probably the most important factor, as was the fact that major European countries were also allowing women to vote. So I just doubt the potential of civil disobedience in this context. The fact is, the church leaders aren't elected. They can go on doing what they are doing, not caring if they lose a few here or there, because the vast majority believe that they speak for God and will not oppose them. If change is going to happen, it will take years, decades, centuries. That doesn't mean we should give up, but just that we have to be patient and keep doing all the small things that can one day add up to big things.

Stephanie said...


I agree, there were many factors. But I think if the suffragists had kept on doing the "small things" nothing would have happened. They needed the woman chained to the fence.

It is a combination of small AND great things that leads to change. Small things alone can't fight spiritual inertia.

Also, they aren't just loosing a few here or there, the church (via Jensen,) recognizes that the church is loosing members rapidly and in "droves."

BeccaVT said...

I agree with a lot of what you say, but I think it's because I also partially agree with the Jezebel author. IF you assume a good Mormon woman is pious and faithfully follows the prophet, and thus accepts the common party line that "admiration = equality," she is probably not a good feminist. In order for a Mormon to be a good feminist, she has to be willing to discount or just disbelieve what her church leaders say. Which according to most, makes you a "bad" Mormon - thus, you cannot be a Mormon (defined as someone who believes the prophet will never lead them astray) feminist (defined as someone who sees the incorrectness of the church's stance on women) at the same time.

But, if you are willing to expand your vision of Mormon women to those who are willing to defy their leaders on certain issues, sure you can. But it does require a good amount of boat-rocking.

Amber said...

*stands, applaudes* This is what I was trying to say on joannas fb last night.

Andrea said...

Just the same as "separate but equal" didn't budge without a few sit-ins at lunch counters and rides on freedom buses. It's frustrating that so many LDS women are so comfortable with the doctrinal and cultural equivalent of Jim Crow laws. Yet I'm sure if they were subjected to separate entrances and drinking fountains they would be horrified and offended. I'd love to take over one day and declare that no men with blue eyes could hold the priesthood, simply by virtue of them having blue eyes. Then tell them that their blue eyes make them holier than the other males so it's only fair that they get to do "other" jobs while the green, brown, grey, and hazel-eyed males get to perform blessings and hold leadership positions. I'm sure we'd have a few sit-ins and freedom buses over that one...

Cadence said...

Excellent points!

I think the problem is the truth that bucking the establishment comes with consequences and in the Mormon Feminist movement, some of our feminists and intellectuals have already paid a heavy price. Particularly the September Six's excommunications. The price is often excommunication, disfellowship, or voluntary leaving and I agree with you, I doubt things will change unless more women are willing to pay it...

But I had a long hard think about this when a particularly nasty woman, when I confessed my concerns to her, snapped at me, "If you feel that way maybe you should just leave."

That played round in my head for weeks because when you think about the claims of the church, telling someone to just leave is an unbelievably cruel thing. Just leave, God doesn't want you here in the One True Church. Just leave, Zion is better off without you. Just leave, break your covenants and bring damnation on yourself, I don't care. Just leave.

Like I said, I think you're right, little will change unless women are willing to engage in Civil Disobedience with the Church, but I have a lot of sympathy for women who won't because they don't want to leave, for the reasons above or for others. They don't want to break commitments, relationships, covenants, lose their tradition or heritage, or even don't want to ruffle feathers. Whatever.

Like I said, I love your points and this really resonates with me, but as one of those women not at the point if she's able to pay that price yet, be generous to us. It's a heavy one if you still believe in even the smallest part of the Church's claims.

Transition. My biggest issue with the article was someone determining whether I am or am not a feminist. Trying to lay down rules as to who is or is not in the club rather undermines the whole cause to me. My feminism looks different from my mother's but if she claims the title, I don't quibble about whether or not she is feminist enough or whether she meets my standards.

(Ditto BeccaVT above.)

The Cotton Floozy said...

¡Viva la RevoluciĆ³n!

My daughter has started going to church with my parents and hooboy! do I feel conflicted about this. I want my daughter to rock the boat a little. I want her to ask crazy questions and wear pants to Primary, but she probably won't, because that silent pressure to not make waves is soooo strong and pervasive. My plan is to rock the boat while she is in it!

That's what we MoFem ladies should do! Make our daughters splash!

Enough with the boat metaphor already. I have that Guys &Dolls song stuck in my head.

alex said...

Yes! Oh, to be back in Utah. (I know, I know!)

KUATO said...

Thank you for writing this, Child Bride. I've been a faithful Mormon all my life, but I am coming to the same point, just through a different route.

Many people have remarked at how progressive early Mormonism was. In our sealing ceremonies, women did not walk down the aisle and were not given away by fathers or brothers. Women belonged to themselves. We were granted autonomous position. Then, we are each placed under our husbands. Our autonomy was rescinded.

I think that must be over now. The temple rites have changed and need to change again. It is time that our autonomy and status as equals be confirmed and our status as underlings must be emphatically rejected.

This is an either/or question, *and* is not an option.

I would like to press for this, by starting a Side-by-Side campaign. I am willing to continue my temple attendance, but only for the side- by-side ordinances which number exactly 1: baptism for the dead. All the other ordinances contain wording that places women in unequal position.

Stephanie said...

@Kuato, I love that idea. I wish it could happen on a large scale....

mhcs said...

I remember going through a bunch of junk from my husband's house after his mother died. She was an old school Mormon feminist. There was a big pile of old Dialogue, Mormon Studies, and other works from the '70s and '80s and I remember picking up one, flipping it open, and seeing all the headlines in the table of contents on the same. damn. problems. that we're still trying to fix 40+ years later.

I should have cried or something dramatic like that but there was such a huge pile of junk, I just rolled my eyes and threw it in the recycling. Maybe recycling /was/ the appropriate thing to do... : D

I keep coming back to the blacks and the priesthood. The church sure did change there, on something major. It took maybe 15 years from the first real cracks starting to show, to 1978. (I heartily recommend reading up on the history of the priesthood ban to all Mormon feminists. It's our story as much as anyone's. David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism is a good starter.)

On the other hand, the groundwork for 1978 goes back... decades, if not centuries. I seriously doubt 1978 could have happened without the "worldly" impetus of the Civil Rights Movement. The CRM itself came nearly a century after the civil rights issue was supposedly "settled" by the Civil War and Reconstruction. Before that, the Abolitionist movement went on in one form or another back to the 1540s. And all that being said, it's still tough to make a convincing case that African Americans are fully integrated into US society.

Whereas women's rights has only been around for maybe 150 years. And we can already vote! When you look at it that way, we're actually doing pretty awesome. (And it's simultaneously crazy depressing that a 400-year time span to freedom is our point of reference for progress. Seriously, humanity?)

To be honest, I have no idea what's the best way to move forward. No idea. I remember Martin Luther King Jr's peace marches and lunch counter sit-ins, and how with all his integrity he still got taken for a Communist and arrested and the police went after kids in his movement with fire hoses and dogs. And I remember how he wouldn't have even been able to do what he did without the bloodshed of the Civil War a century before him.

And I remember Malcolm X and how he saw that being peaceful like MLK still just got you assassinated at the end of the day, and he got militant. He frightened the ever-living shit out of white people. Maybe to the point where it impeded real change, or maybe not. I'm not sure. And he wound up assassinated too.

mhcs said...

One thing I do know is that the Mormon leadership class really respects money, er, I mean, people with business and leadership acumen.

And another thing I do know is that the female vote started out West, in Wyoming and Utah, and that's not by coincidence. Mormonism didn't have much to do with it-- economics did. Back East people had parlors and fine dining and gender roles. In the West, if something needed to get done you did it or you starved-- nobody cared if you were a woman. More women were owning businesses, heading families, owning land, and all those things that make you think "These people are intelligent enough to vote and have enough vested financial interests in the political system that it only makes sense." (Also, Wyoming had so few people that they needed women to get the required voter population for statehood.)

In other words, I think economics matter a lot. And *power* matters a lot. I don't think we'll be *given* power at church until we *assume* it everywhere else. I don't think we'll see Mother in Heaven as anything but a Great Womb in the Sky until her earthly daughters see *themselves* as more.

Definitely, we need to not rely on the church as our social outlet or our "career." We do need to build our strengths-- emotionally, leadership-wise, in experience, intellectually-- so that we come to church from a position of strength.

I don't know where LDS feminism is going. But I do know that I have an important work to do with amping up local agriculture so that families can work together again, instead of Dad being gone all day. (Like that's "natural." Pfft!) I know for sure that I can go all-out on this and do what God has asked me to do, regardless of what people at church think about what I should be doing with my life. And I can tell you that this sort of thing-- pursuing our callings and going from strength to strength regardless of heckling-- is what is going to bring us to that position to reckon.

Sara said...

I completely agree. i don't know how we're going to do it - i just know we need to do it.

MJ said...

Ditto to Sara's comment.

And you can count me in.

jordan said...

I'm not LDS, but a simple Catholic :]. I would march and chain myself to fences and hold a sign for this cause proudly. This post made me feel empowered as a woman that there may have to be some more drastic measures taken to truly make a difference. Tell me when and where.


jordan said...

I'm not LDS, but a simple Catholic :]. I would march and chain myself to fences and hold a sign for this cause proudly. This post made me feel empowered as a woman that there may have to be some more drastic measures taken to truly make a difference. Tell me when and where.


Kate said...

I'm sorry, but I find this post to be incredibly stupid. I love a good riot/hunger strike/Occupy movement as much as the next girl, but aside from being a serious oversimplification of major past movements, it's also comparing apples to oranges. The Church is not a government. It does not operate as such. It does not respond as such.

Real change comes to the church from within its ranks. It comes from those who are doing the work, not those who are chaining themselves to the COB. It comes through dialogue and service. Serving in leadership callings, making comments in meetings, sending heartfelt letters to Church leaders, speaking out. It comes from talking with spouses and parents and leaders and friends and fellow ward members and blog readers and the media and whoever you come in contact with, converting heart by heart. The way to foment and sustain such change is not by immature radicalism, but by continued dialogue, partnered with service. That is how the church will change. That is how it's changing, albeit slowly.

I wouldn't usually be so derogatory towards another person's thoughts and ideas, but I think this kind of action hurts all of us. It further draws the line in the sand, further paints feminists as 'the
enemy of the church' and further excludes us from dialogue.

We've come a long, long way. And there's a ways to go. But there are plenty of ways to 'lift where you stand' without giving feminists a black eye with the Church. Please don't be so thoughtless as to undermine those efforts.

Stephanie said...


I sort of was making an analogy with the chaining ourselves to the COB, but can you elaborate on why you think this is hurting (Mormon) feminism?

I guess I understand that you think it won't work, which is fine, but I want to know how this "gives feminism a black eye?"

Imogen said...

I absolutely agree with everything you say, but I do think that pretending to change the church involves destroying what it is based on.
Therefore, we are faced to the fact that, in order to truly make a change, a break up must take place.
I'm afraid Mormon Feminists will one day have to face the truth and separate themselves from the Church entirely, and maybe form a new church.
Just a thought on useless fights.

Kate said...


What kind of action are you proposing then? You say 'civil disobedience' and reference the suffragettes and civil rights movements, and say 'willing to risk excommunication,' but the chaining was just an analogy? What are you suggesting?

Organized 'protest' that isn't constructive or service-based gives Mormon feminists a black eye because it creates an 'us' and a 'them.' It paints feminists as an 'other,' an outside enemy of the church, and opposition. And when that happens, it becomes okay to ignore us, to write it off as outside 'persecution,' to dismiss feminists as enemies and outsiders instead of fellow members and sisters. I understand this post as a call to action, but I'm leery of action that reeks of 'protest.'

Alos, you say 'year after year' you've waited for change. But if you think nothing has changed over the past fifteen years, you are surely not paying attention?

M.M.M. said...

I am sorry, but I find this a little ridiculous.
I consider myself to be a "strong headed" Mormon woman, or whatever you want to call it, but I fail to see the huge deal. I have never felt like I am a second class citizen in the church because I am a woman. Frankly, I consider not knowing much about Heavenly Mother, and a woman not saying the prayer in General Conference, to be non-issues. Why not take your outrage over all of our supposed terrible injustices that we have to live through, and place that energy on fighting for women's rights in places where women are killed and maimed for speaking out against their abusive husbands and have no voice, EVER.

Stephanie said...


Can't we do both?

Also, the fact that you don't experience outrage/pain doesn't change the fact that others feel differently, and it doesn't invalid their feelings.

What a small way to see the world. "I don't share your pain, so it is therefore invalid."

Why didn't Jesus concentrate on fixing just the great injustices? Why did he heal the sinner and forgive the adulterer of earthly complaints when spiritual atonement is obviously more important.

Because individuals everywhere matter.

Law Talk said...

Your post, along with some other stuff I've read in the wake of the Jezebel article got me thinking enough that I wrote something up on my own blog, which I pass along for what it is worth:

Best wishes, NBO

Law Talk said...

Your post, along with some other stuff I've read in the wake of the Jezebel article got me thinking enough that I wrote something up on my own blog, which I pass along for what it is worth:

Best wishes, NBO

Brooke said...

I am torn between my very positive emotional response to this post and the nagging thoughts in the back of my head that echo a lot of what Kate said -- The church is not a government or a democracy, and so change within it will not parallel the changes we've seen in our political system due to civil disobedience. As far as giving "feminism a black eye," the mainstream church only speaks of Sonia Johnson (who did actually chain herself to the temple gates), with disdain and I know many good woman who were sympathetic to some of the causes of Mormon Feminists who so turned off by her actions and so eager to be seen as "not like her" that they backed down into TBM status. The type of actions you suggest very well might create an "us" vs. "them" dichotomy and get us written off as outside persecution rather than hurting insiders with valid opinions as it has in the past. But I disagree with Kate that that means you shouldn't try.

Sarah said...

I don't understand the reason, other than simply equality, for wanting the priesthood? It makes no difference to me, I understand that it does to others but why? Having the priesthood isn't going to instantly help me raise my son to be a good human being; it's not going be able to help me to stop his whining or get him to eat well etc. (unfortunately there is no blessing for that) so why do I need it? I feel like having or not having it makes no difference on my day to day life. That's what I'm trying to get through. I guess I just don't understand the outrage. Can someone clarify for me; is it just the 100% everything has to be the same to be equal issue or is there something else driving the movement too?

Jenna F said...

This post is great. I hear what a lot of the comm enters are saying, about being too radical etc, but you know what? My daughter is 2 years old. I don't have 150 years to peacefully agitate and hope that maybe the patriarchy throws a bone to her granddaughters. Nope, I need the change now.
And to those who are afraid that doing something drastic will brand you as "other" you need to face up to the fact that we already are the other. Isn't that crazy that we are so scared to speak in our own church? We need to be honest that the fact that our religion holds a list of so many "others," gays, feminists, stay at home dads, Heavenly Mother, etc is wrong. Christ's church should not be a place where exclusion is brandied about so recklessly. We should not be so eager to draw that tiny circle and exclude so many.
I like to think that my ancestors joining the church and coming to Utah was a radical act. These were people who were willing to do something crazy because of their convictions. I feel like I am letting them down by being silent on so many things. I feel like I am letting God down. I think we need to do something to send a message that all voices will be heard. We need the men in charge to know that they cannot shut us out simply because we are inconvenient, that we expect our religion to start behaving in a Christlike manner. We need to let this church be a place that benefits from hearing the voices of all its members, instead of stagnating from all this fear and homogeneity.

wonderwoman1975 said...

Yes. YES. And, YESSER!

I am at a point where I would LOVE to be part of a large civil disobedience movement with my fellow Mormon Feminist sisters. Chain me up, baby! How fun!


I think the problem that faithful Mormon Feminists have is that women's second-class status in Mormonism is technically based in canonized Mormon Doctrine. Right? (Unlike the Priesthood ban, which consistently has been declared a policy change, not a doctrinal change, Mormon women's second-class status *is* doctrinal. The Church's official stance is that "no one knows" how the Priesthood ban got started, and it never had a doctrinal basis.)*

I believe this is the big difference between MoFems pushing for equality and Suffragists pushing for equality. The US Constitution already had a record of new amendments being added. Mormon Doctrine has no such record. Every Mormon intrinsically knows this, so that is why we "agitate faithfully," while being careful in not rocking the boat. And this is why Non-Mormon Feminists are left scratching their heads in dumb-founded awe, watching us agitate while we keep allowing the Brethren to rule over us as second-class Mormon citizens.

I personally believe that changes to Mormon demographics are going to happen first. The next generation. . . as in our daughters. . . will vote by their feet and pocketbooks. The daughters of Mormon Feminists will not be as faithful. Claudia Bushman said that while she can be patient for Mormon feminist policy to change, her daughters can't be patient. During the Middle-way podcast on Mormon Matters, she said that all of her daughters have left the church (or are inactive). (Her sons,however, have remained active). Jana Reis, in that same podcast, said that her daughter chose her father's Episcopalian church over Mormonism. Jana said that she was actually relieved and kind of glad that her daughter won't be subjected to receiving the damaging YW's non-feminist indoctrination. Joanna Brooks also stated in her book review podcast with John Dehlin, that her two daughters are used to seeing Jewish women in authority in Schule, and she said: "They will not have as much patience as I do (with Mormon doctrine/policy)." These prominent Mormon Feminist Leaders have daughters who, it sounds like, will NOT be carrying on the faithful Mormon Feminist flag. They are not interested. I believe more and more girls and young women will not be interested. It is just the nature of the clash of progress in a world, crashing hard against non-progress in a church.

Maybe the church will become more fundamentalist and fanatical in its conservative non-feminist policies? Maybe we Mormon Feminists will all have enough and leave, or start our own church, or join the Community of Christ? Maybe in 100 years the Church will be forced to change its doctrine, so that it is more inclusive and is more appealing to a larger demographic of women who demand equality?

But changing the core principles of Mormon Doctrine and therefore women's inequality in the church? Not any time soon, with or without civil disobedience, I'm afraid.

wonderwoman1975 said...

*1. God has a house of order. That order is the Priesthood. Jesus was a man, his apostles were men, his prophets were men. This is established in all scripture.

2. Women have specific roles to fill. D&C 132 is written to Emma, but like all scripture, we need to insert ourselves into the name field as well. Women are to therefore abide the commandments or "be destroyed" if we do not obey the law. We are to forgive our men, in order for us to be forgiven. We have no choice but to follow the Law of Sarah.

3. There is one line of thinking about D&C 132, that Joseph received this revelation as it refers to Celestial Polygamy (per Journal of Discourses). If it is indeed referring to Celestial Polygamy, then it is DOCTRINE that in order to be blessed with the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, we have no choice but to live in Celestial Polygamy and procreate for eternity. Women will always be second-class status throughout eternity, procreating for our husband's glory. Even the policy change of monogamous marriages in 1890 and 1904 did not repeal the question of this revealed doctrine.

4. As much as I love Eliza R. Snow's mention of Heavenly Mother in her poetry and hymns, Heavenly Mother as a Goddess and co-equal partner with God does not appear in canonized scripture.

This list is not exhaustive, and I'm sure can be debated as well, but I think I have a point. . .that the reason we Mormon Feminists have been making the same arguments round and round since Exponent II, is because the root of our Mormon Feminist problems lies in the roots of Mormon Doctrine.*

Brooke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brooke said...

@Wonderwoman1975 -- In regards to your #4, I really liked this piece from LDSMagazine:

Stephanie said...


Note, I never said LDS women should chain themselves to anything, I mentioned a sit-out, I mentioned boycotting programs that are inequitable, and I mentioned the silent sentinels, women who simply stood outside the white-house to maintain visibility.

As suggestions, too, not calls to action.

Because I don't know yet, what we should do. I know that civil disobedience can be as simple as praying to Heavenly Parents in Sunday School, and as big as organized action. I just wanted to express an idea, not pass out the handcuffs.

That's stupid, I guess.

Stephanie said...

@ Sarah

this is a post I wrote about why I want the Priesthood, with a link to another article with even more reasons.

wonderwoman1975 said...

@Brooke - Hi. Yes, that was a great article. I love speaking about Heavenly Mother, and certainly debunking cultural myths surrounding Her.

It is a natural extension of the promises we receive upon our eternal marriage sealing in the temple, that WE are blessed to become a Goddess and Priestess unto our husbands in the CK, just like our Heavenly Father's wife, our Heavenly Mother.

In that sense, I suppose, we can consider Her presence doctrine? (I was addressing with my #4 that Heavenly Mother as actual Mormon Doctrine, does not appear in the 4 standard works as canonized scripture.)

Since she is revealed to us (by extension) as doctrine in the temple, isn't it fairly obvious that we do not become Goddesses and Priestesses as co-equals with our husbands unto God? Rather, we become a G and P UNTO our husbands, and he unto God.

Second class status.

It's in the doctrine. All the way.

wonderwoman1975 said...

@Brooke - Hi. Yes, that was a great article. I love speaking about Heavenly Mother, and certainly debunking cultural myths surrounding Her.

It is a natural extension of the promises we receive upon our eternal marriage sealing in the temple, that WE are blessed to become a Goddess and Priestess unto our husbands in the CK, just like our Heavenly Father's wife, our Heavenly Mother.

In that sense, I suppose, we can consider Her presence doctrine? (I was addressing with my #4 that Heavenly Mother as actual Mormon Doctrine, does not appear in the 4 standard works as canonized scripture.)

Since she is revealed to us (by extension) as doctrine in the temple, isn't it fairly obvious that we do not become Goddesses and Priestesses as co-equals with our husbands unto God? Rather, we become a G and P UNTO our husbands, and he unto God.

Second class status.

It's in the doctrine. All the way.

April Larsen said...

Hmm. I'll give it more thought, but I disagree. I'm a very feminist LDS gal... And I have always found the church (in Utah, Hawaii, Los Angeles, and the south... as I've experienced it) to be conducive to women's rights. I want for nothing more. I accept referencing Heavenly Mother; I appreciate the Relief Society as the world's largest women's organization, and based on charity ; and i agree with *allowing* the men to carry the administrative role of the priesthood and much of the church. Id sooner get up in arms over an issue like perpetrators in leadership positions and all the immorality at BYU before I'd trip on non-issues.

Kate said...

@Stephanie: Thank you for clarifying what you meant by 'civil disobedience.' I know that while not everyone has feelings of inequity in the church or the culture of the church, they do matter a lot to some people (myself included). And different things matter to different people - some take issue with having the priesthood, some don't. Everyone has the right to act in the way that they feel is best, and say what they feel is true. I just wanted to point out that such talk and action, when it takes protest/revolution form, can really, really hurt the 'cause,' if you want to call it that.

@Brooke, that was a great example of how drastic actions can create a perceived "us" vs "them" dichotomy. I would also like to clarify to that I'm not advocating for nothing. I do believe there are constructive, positive, faithful actions and dialogue that can happen without alienating church leaders or fellow members. I just think drama, civil disobedience and anything reminiscent of antagonism, while stirring to read about, remain firmly in the bad idea camp in this context.

Savannah said...

Stephanie, I absolutely love your blog (which I discovered through a link on a friend's Facebook post awhile back). You write so beautifully and eloquently about things that I am passionate (though not as articulate) about which I love! This post and the one just before it left me with two thoughts (ok, my head is reeling with far more than two thoughts, but I'll only mention two):
1- Didn't we determine that "separate but equal" is flawed ? Why then do we continue to use this mentality in the church regarding gender roles?
2- After reading a lot of comments about the doctrinal basis for these gender roles and thus the inability for the church to change its stance, I can't help but think... Wouldn't it be funny if we gain access to the parts of the Book of Mormon that were lost and in it contains doctrine that is far more inclusive and Christ-like? The only glimmer of hope I have in the gospel (and why I will probably always consider myself Mormon even if I haven't been to church in years) is my personal belief that when we all die/the world "ends," God is going to laugh (sarcastically) and say to all the men, "damn you got that SO wrong!" in regards to patriarchy.

Cait said...

I have been struggling the same. I want to do SOMETHING tangible to civilly disobey but it is hard and I do not know what. I just know I can't go on pretending like all is well. I am with you.

MissyLou said...

Ever since I was a little girl in Primary and was told that I shouldn't go on a mission because "I am a girl and should focus on getting married and having a family" I have felt that something was wrong. When I was a Mia Maid in YW and I saw the activities the YM were having (archery, hikes, lasertag, outdoor survival) And I saw the activities the YW were having (Personal Progress, learn to bake, Personal Progress, Sewing, PERSONAL PROGRESS, Scrapbooking.)I hated that I was put into these activities that were molding me to be a homemaker. I wanted to go to the YM activities! I hated YW because I felt like I didn't belong because I couldn't be the proper Daughter of God they wanted me to be. I stood out. Spoke up when I didn't agree with things like Polygyny. I was told on various occaisons by my father that I was "going to Hell" for my feelings on something so sacred. My dad told people that I wanted more then one husband because I fought the issue of a woman not being able to be sealed to more then one man, but yet a man can be sealed to more then one woman. (Bear in mind I was 13 at the time and being told I was going to Hell scared me to death.) I felt resentment towards my YW leaders when they couldn't answer my pressing questions. No one seemed to understand why I was so upset! Then I got onto the Priesthood and questioned why women couldn't have it. Boy did that one cause problems! I got a stern talking to that the Priesthood is for men and Motherhood is a Woman's sacred right. I didn't agree. I was born a woman so I could have babies. Done deal. But men? They were given the Priesthood by a higher authority. People would then tell me, "well you should have been born a man." But wait, I thought. My spirit isn't a hermaphrodite that can be born man or woman. If that were the case then why are people so against Gays and Lesbians saying that they were put in the wrong body? I thought my spirit is a woman and that is why I was born a woman. So I can't just be told I should have been born a man! ARG!!

Anyways, I just wanted to say that I am glad that I am no longer alone in my feelings that our church is sexist. I have felt so much sadness and heartache and to read your blog and know that there are others out there like me...I know that there is nothing wrong with me and having these feelings. It's called having some self respect and wanting a better future.

Thanks Stephanie.

Brittany said...

I'm really trying to understand this. I am a 20 year old (married) faithful member of the church. I have a testimony and believe the church is true. I've never had any real doubt. Seriously. I've had plenty of troubling questions but never really considered that the church is not true. I've had my own personal witness.

Recently I've been reading a lot about Mormon Feminists and what you believe and are trying to change within the church. I disagree with a lot but also agree with a lot. In this article you said something about choosing to be a feminist through common-sense and self-respect. I'm just wondering if I and other women in the church have any common sense or self respect even though they(we) don't agree with you? Am I insecure for wearing a skirt this Sunday?

This is a serious question. I am not insecure and have never unwillingly submitted to my husband on any issue. I guess I'm just confused with all this new information. It seems I must be a full fledged Mormon Feminist or an insecure and ditsy Molly Mormon. Is there no in between? Help me understand what you are all about.

paraclede said...

my thoughts:

Mand said...

I think I could write a book in response to this. But really what I want to write is as a mormon feminist, it disappoints me you are using, and encouraging others to use such a special day to further the cause and have others hear your voice when there are so many other forums and activities.

Because I'm a woman by birth and because I'm a mormon by common sense I respect my divine creator enough to respect Him during those three hours. No one cares if women wear pants to's never been about WHAT you wear. It's about your heart, and you're turning sacrament into a spectacle and fashion show of who is wearing what.

I still adore you and your blog, I'm just deeply disappointed.

The Bangerter Family said...

I find this article very sad and frankly appauling. You say that when you cross over in to apostasy that your voice is lost. Did you think that maybe you have already crossed that line and are 3/4 the way down the slippery slope to full apostasy? A couple of questions.. just out of curiosity... Do you have a testimony? You might say, why yes! I do... but do you really? If you had a testimony of the full doctrines and principles of the gosple you would realize that the leaders of the church, mainly President Monson, are only the mouth peice for who is really at the head of the mormon church, which is God. They are men called of God to recieve revelation (From God!) on how the church is ran.... So who are you protesting against.... its not the leaders of the church...Its God who you are protesting! If you have a problem with the little, unimportant things in the church such as: Prayers, Scouting etc.. take it up with God, not the leaders of the church. If its men and woman having equal roles in the church such as priesthood, that will not change until God says it does. Having a sit out on the doors of the COB will not do you any good but its God you need to take these things up with. Men and woman are both equal in the sight of God and are both given devine roles and responsiblities they are supposed to do while on this earth. I suggest all that are "Enlisted" in this movement seriously consider the implications.

Mary said...

I think it's perfectly ok to question gender roles in the church. I don't think that, in and of itself, is "apostasy." Everybody is going to see things differently. I think it's unfair to say that anyone who questions things doesn't have a testimony, and it's equally unfair to say that people who doesn't question the same things you do have their heads in the sand. Different things affect different people different ways. I see sexism in the church, although I think it is more a result of misinterpretation of doctrine than actual doctrine, but I also see positive changes.

What I see among the women of the church, which is more troubling for me, is the battle against each other. If you question, you're a bad Mormon. If you don't question, you're dumb (that's not what I think Stephanie is doing, btw). I'm grateful for people who bring things to my awareness that I may have not thought of before. I probably won't wear pants to church or anything, mainly because I think I look nicer in a skirt and I like to look nice for church, but I will ask questions about why things are the way they are.

People! We are all in this together. It's a journey where learning, growing, challenging, and changing are all part of it. Ok, I'm stepping off my proverbial soapbox now.

Mary said...

And, I don't mean to minimize the meaning and symbolism of the pants thing. I think it's a powerful statement.

Angelina said...

I'm not only not Mormon, I'm not even religious. I am therefore not going to enter this debate as it is not mine to be part of. However - I just wanted to say that this post and the following discussion have given me more respect for the women of the Mormon church than I previously had. My ignorance that there was a feminist movement at all is due largely to my lack of connection with anyone Mormon. It makes me happy to find some common ground between us. I'm wishing you all the best in this feminist movement and I'm cheering you on!

Jill said...

I was always taught that we don't pray to our mother in heaven or use her name because she is so sacred. People take the Lord's name in vain without a second thought. Do we want her name pulled through the mud, too? Just to feel more equal? Seems then we'd be complaining that her name wasn't being used right.

I've been reading a few Mormon feminist articles lately and quite frankly, it's new to me. I suppose I'm a traditionalist and I like it that way. My husband and I support each other and, as the Proclamation to the Church says, help each other fulfill our roles. That means, he does the dishes. I pack him up a lunch for the next work day. Things like that.

It seems that your frustration at inequality has been from personal experience, experiences that you have chosen to let dictate to you your worth. I once had a college professor at BYU tell me that "You'll probably just stay home and raise your babies anyway" when I couldn't figure out what to major in. Was that bothersome? Yes. But I didn't let it define me. I knew I had a choice and if I really wanted to, I would follow a career. So, he became the stupid professor from my sophomore year. Nothing more.

Perhaps commenters here are right that change needs to come from within, not outside displays of civil disobedience. And "from within" I mean within ourselves. We have a choice to let comments and actions make us feel inferior or to rise above, forgive the lame people who say or do lame things and know that we are highly favored in the eyes of the Lord.

This suggestion of chaining yourselves to the Church Office building - are people inferring that the Lord has directed our prophet in ways that would give women the equality you seek and that the prophet is just not listening? I don't get it.

Perhaps the Lord is doing things in His own time (we've learned that over and over!) and that repeatedly asking for change church-wide is not how it works? This is HIS church and it seems that some people are toeing the line of a NEW church. I, for one, would like to stay far from that line. I'm confident in how the Lord views me. My parents have told me I have worth and so has the Lord through conference talks, church leaders and directly through my patriarchial blessing. Any one who tells me otherwise can go have lunch with my college professor.

Katie said...

Has anyone read this article?

I find all of this very interesting, but I cannot deny what I know to be true and right. I have a very real relationship with my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because I know the nature of God, I know that He would never put his daughters in a situation of being unequal. I am not arguing with you, or hating, or anything. I just want you to know that I have a real love for this gospel and know that it is true.

Being equal does not mean being the same. Check out the doctrine in that article, it is amazing!

Stephanie said...


I'm not a fan of Valerie Hudson.

I'm also not a fan of "God wouldn't let xyz happen because he loves his children."

Awful things happen every day. (I think that is especially sad given recent events.)

Inequality is just one of the many things that happen despite a loving God who probably wants much more for his children.

Why would God "never" allow inequity in his church, but allow other things to happen.

I'm not hating either, I just reject your premise, as you did mine. :)

Cheryl said...

There are cultural things that need to change I completely agree with you on that. But maybe the reason women haven't been given the priesthood even after all the "suffragettes" efforts is because it's God's will at thi time. Maybe it's a principal we need to have faith about and be patient. Maybe it's to refine us and test our faithfulness in this mortal state? It is not my cross to bear as I don't desire the priesthood but for some women maybe its their trial in this life. I just wish some women would stop a fusing hose of us who don't feel that way as being if orang and less enlightened.

I am so sorry about the venemous hate that has come your way. I am sure our Heavenly Parents are weeping. I can agree to disagree with love and compassion, I wish others could too.

Cheryl said...

Oops! I wish some women would STOP ACCUSING

Cheryl said...

Oh boy, not orang, ignorant!