Zelophehad’s Daughters

Characteristics of a Mormon Feminism

Posted by Lynnette

As Eve alluded to in her most recent post, a conversation that we’ve been having lately has to do with the relationship between secular and Mormon feminism. I’ve noticed a tendency—and doubtless engaged in it myself—to take feminist theories from a variety of places and simply graft them on to Mormonism. Mormon feminism is then Mormon in the sense that it concerns itself with Mormon issues, but not Mormon in its roots.

Don’t get me wrong; I certainly don’t object to the use of secular feminist theories. I think they’ve made important contributions to Mormon feminist thought. Nor am I saying that this way of doing Mormon feminism can’t add valuable insights. But I’d like to propose, tentatively, some characteristics of a feminism grounded in Mormonism.

Note: this is not to say that aspects of these can’t be found in feminism in other places as well.  I’m simply trying to play with what what this approach to Mormon feminism might look like.

So, on to my proposed characteristics:

1) Fundamentally, such a feminism is grounded not in liberal humanism, but in a commitment to the belief that we are all children of God, women and men alike, with infinite divine potential, and that anything which gets in the way of that potential and undercuts the full humanity and agency of any of God’s children needs to be resisted.

2) In Christ Jesus, there is no male or female. (Galatians 3:28) All are alike unto God. (2 Nephi 26:33) These call for a feminism which focuses on our common humanity, which challenges gender stereotypes going in either direction.

3) Charity is not optional. We are bound by covenant to the principles outlined in Mosiah 18, to mourn and comfort and stand as witnesses of God. We are called to live out charity as described in 1 Corinthians 13, with its long-suffering and kindness. This is the case no matter how strongly we feel about the rightness of our cause. Yes, we need to point out privilege, to resist injustice, to critique problems. Charity does not mean we have to tolerate unrighteous dominion. But it does mean that we cannot use feminism as a reason to vilify those with whom we disagree.

4) This feminism arises from the good news of the gospel, from its proclamation of grace, of God’s love for the world. It is driven by the two great commandments, to love God and to love our neighbor. It is transformative. It seeks both commitment and inclusivity, and is wary of demands for ideological purity. It is not about having the exact right beliefs about x, y, and z; it is an orientation toward justice which takes seriously the sisterhood and brotherhood of humankind. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)

5) The Church is not seen as the enemy. Dissent is certainly possible and probably necessary, but it is grounded in LDS principles (e.g., personal revelation) and commitment to LDS teachings (like the ones mentioned above). The end goal is not to advance a secular utopia, but to work toward the kingdom of God. In addition to charity, it is characterized by faith in a God of justice, and hope for a better world.

I realize that some of these ideals are in tension with other LDS teachings and practices regarding gender, ones which I have frequently critiqued. The Church is far from monolithic when it comes to these questions. But in developing a Mormon feminism that both challenges Mormonism, and bases itself in it, this is where I might start.

36 Responses to “Characteristics of a Mormon Feminism”

  1. 1.

    Thank you for this.

  2. 2.

    Please clarify for me how this Mormon feminism is Mormon, rather than simply Christian. The only distinction I can find is “divine potential”, but even that could be argued as a more general Christian principle. Specifically LDS teachings — Heavenly Mother, the eternal/essential nature of gender, eternal marriage– are explicitly missing.

  3. 3.

    I really like that you’re thinking this through, Lynnette. These are questions I never even really considered. (Sorry I don’t have comment yet on the actual content.)

  4. 4.

    I’m not really sure this lands you in a different place than you’d reach via a secular, moderately multi-cultural feminism, or even that you reach that place via a markedly different route. Let me back-translate; let’s see what I miss? You’re concerned with maximizing individual potential and human flourishing; with contesting stereotypes that impede such flourishing; with respect for the value of established institutions and traditions; and with a humanistic attitude of solidarity toward people with divergent ideological commitments.

    If the project is to see what resources Mormonism offers in support of these values, great! Yet if the project is instead to start from Mormon ideas and then construct a worldview, it seems worth noting that Mormonism — like most traditions — contains abundant resources for arguing the opposite set of values.

  5. 5.

    I’ll come from a slightly different angle than JNS. I’ll concede the religious uniqueness of your vision, that it’s distinguishable from secular multicultural feminism. But is there anything distinctly Mormon, as opposed to Christian, about it?

  6. 6.

    I don’t think we can take any “ism” that one has already arrived at via secular means and then reconstruct or craft it so that it has a theological or spiritual center. We would be cherry-picking teachings and scriptures which support our arguement.

  7. 7.

    Thanks for the feedback; as I mentioned, this is very tentative. Rose and Brad, that’s a really good question. I wondered about it myself as I was writing it, and it doubtless reflects my own biases about what I see as central to the church, which tends to be those aspects which overlap with Christianity more generally. I would say that #2, #3, and #4 are pretty much true of Christianity generally. I do see the possibility of making a more uniquely Mormon case for #1 and #5, but I don’t think I’ve made it yet. And Rose, I think you’re right that it’s a mistake to leave out unique LDS ideas like Heavenly Mother.

    Maybe what I’m doing here is simply starting to think out what I see as the value of a Christian (or even maybe a religious) feminism versus a secular feminism, because I do disagree with JNS on this. I have to run, but more to come on that subject.

  8. 8.

    I love the idea of building feminism out of Mormon building blocks, rather than out of secular building blocks — or, as you put it: not just “grafting” alternative feminist thoughts onto Mormonism.

    While I can see JNS’s, Brad’s, and Rose’s criticisms, I guess there are already 3 people who have commented on that, so I won’t try to be the 4th. I will say that I do think that there are scriptures and teachings that could make a uniquely Mormon feminism (the assertion of eternal gender is going to be an inevitable divergence from Christianity, where people aren’t eternal intelligences at all…), and I look forward to a rigorous, scriptural, and doctrinal backgrounding (not saying that you have to take on this project — it’s just whenever progressive folks talk about how their Mormonism fuels and bolsters their beliefs, I wonder how they read the scriptures, what things jump out at them…how would they teach a sunday school course in a way that would make sense to other folks as being very Mormon, but which would still support those ideas?)

    I can see Merica’s criticism as well, but I think JNS’s ending comment kinda addresses that — most religious traditions (and certainly Mormonism) offer the building blocks to support many positions, even contradicting ones. There’s going to be cherrypicking.

  9. 9.

    Great post, Lynnette. It also seems to me that Mormonism’s theology of embodiment could theoretically contribute to a body-positive feminism — that at the least, there’s overlap there.

    I’m actually not sure that charity is viewed as an obligatory element (or any kind of element) of feminism in general — I think justice at any price is the default setting of most activisms out of oppression. (Which may be fine — I’m not necessarily critiquing that — but I do think the addition of an obligation for charity to feminism should be a marked thing worth exploring further.)

  10. 10.

    Hello Lynette, newbie commenter here. I really love this model you’re developing. So much of secular feminism has always felt driven and bound by political ideologies to me, which has probably led me to reject and not be open to aspects of feminism that I would have otherwise accepted and embraced, had I not been bound and driven by my own political preferences. But this I love. This feels like home to me. This feels like a space I could inhabit. It feels like the space I have begun to inhabit.

    On the idea of a ‘utopian’ society, I feel much the same way about such ventures, as having been driven and bound by political ideologies – something that has been forced upon people, nations. Something that is forced must be enforced, creating a utopia for exactly no one.

    The Kingdom of God on the other hand is something I believe will naturally ensue as Godly principles are embraced and lived by a people, as opposed to what ensues when we dogmatically adhere to political ideologies, whatever those ideologies may be.

    Thank you for your thoughtful posts. I really love your writing.

  11. 11.

    I think one reason I’m cautious about identifying with the label “feminist” is because I’m a people-ist. I want everyone to be able to reach their potential and fulfill the measure of their uniquely personal creation.

    I like the idea in basing a Mormon (feminist?) movement around eternal identity, including embodiment as mentioned Melyngoch. Our religion stresses the eternal importance of personhood (maybe? I just had an institute lesson where the teacher implied heavily that god cares about covenants in general more than specific souls). I’d like to feel like more of a person, and have the ability to use my full capacity of agency. Is that something Mormon, or is it just me?

  12. 12.

    This is a fantastic move in the right direction, IMO. There are, however, two quibbles which I have:

    First, your reading of Mormon doctrine seems like a very liberal humanistic one. Similarly, to make feminism fully Mormon it must sustain and support the priesthood leadership as it actually is and not as they wish it were – and that’s pretty much the deal breaker for many on either side of the debate.

    If you can find a way of doing these things in a way which is not wishy-washy or equivocal, I think you’d really be on to something.

  13. 13.

    Thanks Lynnette, I really enjoyed reading your ideas.

  14. 14.

    I haven’t totally figured out how one distinguishes between ideas originating in secular feminism, arising as I understand it from liberal humanism (which arguably has roots in Christianity), on the one hand, and Christian or Mormon feminism on the other, so I’d love to hear what others have concluded.

    But I do think one aspect of Mormon theology that might fruitfully inform the feminist project, however we ground that project, is the notion of eternal gender, and specifically the idea that God is limited—among other things by his masculinity. I know we really haven’t managed to parse out as a community what that could possibly mean. But one theological effect of God’s gender limitations should be that we can theoretically critique God on the basis of the fact that some of us have more knowledge about femininity (whatever that is—and I recognize there are maybe insuperable problems to determining what transcendent femininity could even mean) than he does.

  15. 15.

    “But one theological effect of God’s gender limitations should be that we can theoretically critique God on the basis of the fact that some of us have more knowledge about femininity (whatever that is—and I recognize there are maybe insuperable problems to determining what transcendent femininity could even mean) than he does.”

    Is it possible that He does have knowledge of our femininity, Christ having suffered the sins of all women, as well as the sins of men? That’s an interesting thought I’ve never had, but also, possibly such a critique is only possible without a Heavenly Mother in the equation?

  16. 16.

    I’m not really sure this lands you in a different place than you’d reach via a secular, moderately multi-cultural feminism, or even that you reach that place via a markedly different route. Let me back-translate; let’s see what I miss? You’re concerned with maximizing individual potential and human flourishing; with contesting stereotypes that impede such flourishing; with respect for the value of established institutions and traditions; and with a humanistic attitude of solidarity toward people with divergent ideological commitments.

    JNS, I do see some significant differences between a moderate secular multicultural feminism and the kind of Christian (even if I’m still working out the particularly Mormon aspects of it) feminism I’m describing:

    –In saying that humans are children of God, and that we are one in Christ, Christian feminism grounds the unity and potential of humanity in the transcendent, and human flourishing can’t be talked about in the absence of that dimension.

    –Christianity sees things through the lens of sin and redemption. Transformation has to ultimately come from the workings of grace; all our works and our ideological commitments can’t save us from our enmeshment in oppression (both as oppressors and as victims).

    –Similarly, because only the justice of God can finally counter oppression, a Christian feminism requires both vertical and horizontal commitments (both love of God and of neighbor).

    –With regard to the church, the issue goes far beyond that of respect for an established institution. The challenge for dissenters is that of how to dissent from an organization to which one has covenantal obligations, one which plays a sacramental role in one’s life.

  17. 17.

    Merica (#6),

    I agree that cherry-picking is an issue, but like Andrew S., I also think that to some extent we have to pick and choose, given the diversity and even contradictions in our doctrines. The question is then, of course, how do we pick and choose responsibly? That’s probably worth its own post, but I would briefly say that I think it’s good to be explicit about our starting point and how we’ve gotten to that starting point, and to straightforwardly acknowledge things that go against what we’re saying; to be as honest and responsible as we can.

    Andrew S. (#8),

    I appreciate your enthusiasm! I really like this question:

    it’s just whenever progressive folks talk about how their Mormonism fuels and bolsters their beliefs, I wonder how they read the scriptures, what things jump out at them…how would they teach a sunday school course in a way that would make sense to other folks as being very Mormon, but which would still support those ideas?”

    It’s the kind of thing that I’m interested in hearing about, too.

    Melyngoch (#9)

    That’s a striking observation about charity. I’d like to explore that more as well.

    Rachel (#10)

    Hello, and welcome! Thanks for the comment. I’m really glad the post resonated with you.

  18. 18.

    I find the depiction and debate of charity particularly important. Here on a few thoughts on makes charity unique for Mormons, and perhaps for Mormon feminism.

    I agree charity is not optional, but I see it as much more than a sense of obligation. As the Book of Mormon explains, nothing else matters: “if ye have not charity, ye are nothing” (Moro. 7:46). Christians looking to the Bible find a utilitarian message: If I “have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).

    If we had nothing more than the writings of Paul, charity would like seem like soldering on: a disciple “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Cor. 15:7). With the insights of Moroni, we learn that it is not enough to merely go about doing good; we must fuse ourselves to the rock of our Redeemer and “cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail” (Moro. 7:46).

    If American feminism lays any claim to charity, perhaps it comes through a embrace of ethics. In their interpersonal relations, feminists may find it honorable to be kind, patient and selfless (1 Cor. 15:4-5). But in a Mormon context, becoming charitable is the ultimate in consciousness raising: “charity is the pure love of Christ” (Moro. 7:47).

    As Mormons strive for this love like no other, and become “true followers” of the Savior, the day will come “when he shall appear” and “we shall be like him”; if we have engraved his image in our countenances, and by covenant become his kin, “we shall see him as he is” at his coming (Alma 5:14,19 and Moro. 7:48).

    To me it seems significant the Relief Society defines itself by the motto “charity never faileth” (1 Cor. 15:8). Surely some interpreted the phrase as meaning they should spend their time helping others. But maybe others saw it as an force for good that nothing could defeat.

    Does charity offer Mormon feminism the chance to conquer discrimination through the power of unconditional love? Would the hearts of men with privilege be changed by the kind of love they can never question? What would it look like if Mormon feminists chastised others charitably? Would a charitable approach to activism require Mormon feminists to “seek not for power, but to pull it down” (Alma 60:36)?

  19. 19.

    Lynnette, interesting responses, and persuasive ones on some points.

    For your first point about human flourishing, it’s obviously not true that this concern can only be discussed vis-a-vis transcendence. These ideas date back in a variety of traditions to times earlier than Christianity. Indeed, Christianity has often defined itself in opposition to ideas that ground morality in human flourishing. Christianity built its early intellectual identity in part in opposition to Epicurianism, a primary source for the concept I think? Later Christianities have opposed many of the major views in this tradition, for example those of JS Mill and Nietzsche.

    Mormonism of course does have better resources for paralleling these secular traditions than other Christian faiths. So that’s a way of differentiating Mormon from Christian feminism. But it has no leverage vis-a-vis secularism, which owns several of the loci classici of this idea.

    For your second and third points, I agree that these are different from secular feminism and humanism. I worry that they produce a less powerful version with an unhelpfully external locus of control — so there’s still an argument to make about how this is better than just using secular ideas. But I agree that these are differences.

    On the fourth point, the language of covenant and sacrament is clearly proprietary to Christianity. But does this point to important differences in the social relation in question in comparison with, e.g., an indigenous feminist worried about maintaining value in tribal institutions? Maybe so; I worry that the difference boils down to an assertion that *we really* mean it — but I’m open to the idea that there’s more here.

  20. 20.

    Olea (#11),

    I like the idea in basing a Mormon (feminist?) movement around eternal identity, including embodiment as mentioned Melyngoch. Our religion stresses the eternal importance of personhood (maybe? I just had an institute lesson where the teacher implied heavily that god cares about covenants in general more than specific souls). I’d like to feel like more of a person, and have the ability to use my full capacity of agency. Is that something Mormon, or is it just me?

    I like that, too, and I certainly hope it’s Mormon (!) (Covenants in general more important than specific souls? Huh??)

    That’s another thing (I’ll add it to the list) that I need to incorporate more explicitly into what I’m doing: the LDS doctrine of eternal intelligences. I think it’s powerful in a number of ways. In particular, I think it gives a weight to the potential of independent human moral judgment that is hard to get with a more traditional view.

  21. 21.

    Jeff G. (#12),

    First, your reading of Mormon doctrine seems like a very liberal humanistic one.

    My reading of Mormon doctrine doubtless reflects my biases, and I’m a liberal humanistic sort of thinker, so that’s not really a surprise. Though you might note in my exchange with JNS that I’m actually arguing that secular liberal humanism can’t get you to the same place that religion can; I’m certainly not accepting it uncritically. And I’m drawing on elements that I genuinely see in the tradition. So I’m not entirely sure what your quibble is.

    Similarly, to make feminism fully Mormon it must sustain and support the priesthood leadership as it actually is and not as they wish it were – and that’s pretty much the deal breaker for many on either side of the debate.

    That’s obviously a huge issue, but I think it speaks to my point on dissent. It’s the classic conundrum: can you sustain and support the leadership while dissenting? My own view, if it’s not already clear, is that you have to dissent thoughtfully and carefully, but I do think it’s possible.

    And I won’t beat around the bush: I think feminism is simply going to clash with other elements of the Church; I don’t think it’s possible, for example, to reinterpret everything in a feminist light. So there’s going to be tension. But what is the “fully Mormon” response to that? To be silent if you find yourself in disagreement? Or is there room for (charitable!) disagreement?

  22. 22.

    Kiskilili and Rachel, those are such interesting questions. I have to admit that I’ve been dodging the eternal gender bullet because I’m still figuring out what to do with it. When it comes to that potential contradiction between the assertion that gender is eternal, and a christology in which a male Christ experiences the complete range of human experience, I personally tend to emphasize the christology and downplay the gender difference. But one disadvantage of that is that it leaves less need for Heavenly Mother. And I’m intrigued by Kiskilili’s proposal that this is a basis on which a male God could actually be critiqued.

  23. 23.

    In my mind, just throwing out ideas here, if you look at Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father as One, as we believe Christ is with the Father – that they are one in purpose and essentially one in mind – then we can possibly even imagine a Heavenly Mother who understands the full range of male mortal experience.

    That’s a new thought for me just in these last ten minutes, but it makes sense in my mind. A possibility anyway. Just another thought to distract one’s mind with.

  24. 24.

    All of these are excellent points, but the one that really resonated most with me was the necessity of charity in Mormon feminism. In my own, personal experience, most of those who offend don’t intend to and a kinder response (driven by charity) is far more effective than one steeped in righteous indignation. Both as a doctrinal and as a practical matter, charity is the way to go!

    I’d also like to see you expand and refine this concept of Mormon feminism, including Heavenly Mother and our own, eternal nature and gender. I’ve often felt that I’m a feminist BECAUSE of my membership in the Church, not despite it. You’re on to something! :)

  25. 25.

    I’m a giant fan of the charity idea as outlined by sterflu. (I just find it emotionally exhausting.)

  26. 26.

    Thank you so much for this! I have been feeling very discouraged about the growing stridency in Mormon feminism. This and Kiskilili’s post are a needed balm that provides me hope. Rachel #10 expresses much of what I feel about the subversion of Mormon feminism into a political ideology. But I wonder if the political language is merely filling the black hole of descriptive language not only relating to the female divine but to women in the church. In my opinion, filling that hole with politics means that we lack the necessary foundation to appeal to Mormons in the manner in which you have so beautifully outlined and expressed. We must have the concepts and ideas but most important there must be the language in which to frame them that will include rather than exclude. Please, please continue!

  27. 27.

    JNS, if I’m following your first point, you’re pointing out that human flourishing doesn’t require a dimension of transcendence, and I would definitely agree with that. On that, I was simply attempting to suggest that the dimension of transcendence is one way to distinguish a Christian anthropology from a secular one. (As your response indicates, I haven’t made the case that that the former has any advantages—though I do think a Christian perspective is going to have to argue that.)

    For your second and third points, I agree that these are different from secular feminism and humanism. I worry that they produce a less powerful version with an unhelpfully external locus of control — so there’s still an argument to make about how this is better than just using secular ideas. But I agree that these are differences.

    The external locus of control is a danger, I agree—it can lead to an attitude of “why do anything? God will solve it in the end!” So I think it requires a theology which avoids that. I see potential in liberation theology here.

    On the fourth point, the language of covenant and sacrament is clearly proprietary to Christianity. But does this point to important differences in the social relation in question in comparison with, e.g., an indigenous feminist worried about maintaining value in tribal institutions? Maybe so; I worry that the difference boils down to an assertion that *we really* mean it — but I’m open to the idea that there’s more here.

    I do see the language of covenant as going beyond a concern for maintaining value in the institution, though I can see your point. Is this just an attempt to say that no, we’re more serious, without much of a basis for that? Maybe because there’s something more active in the language of covenant, more consequences for breaking it? And in addition, a peculiar reliance on the institution for salvation in that it plays a sacramental role? Though the latter, at least, strikes me as less likely to be unique.

    This is an obvious point, but once you start with a premise of a belief in God, the secular version simply isn’t going to be sufficient. And that’s what I’m attempting to tackle in this post–not asking whether the religious version is superior (though that’s obviously a valid question), but asking what it means to take religious belief seriously in informing a feminist outlook.

  28. 28.

    Rachel, I agree; I think that if Heavenly Father understands the full range of female mortal experience, Heavenly Mother must also understand the full range of male mortal experience. Which raises the question of why we need both, if this is indeed the case. I think it must be more than having a divine figure who understands your experience, but also who gives you a role model for your divine potential. (Which is one reason I find the invisibility of Heavenly Mother so disturbing.)

    Hillary, yes, I’d like to think a lot more about charity, and particularly how it can inform feminism. Though ideally, not in an emotionally exhausting way (as Olea observes!)

    JNR, thanks! I’m so glad that you found this encouraging.

  29. 29.

    As a companion to the argument that men need the priesthood in order to raise them to the spiritual realm women naturally occupy by virtue of being women, I would say that it’s obvious we women are not in need of a divine female role model because we’re awesome like that. We’re innately in tune with our divine potential. On the other hand, men are weak for actually needing a divine male role model to follow.

    Just doing my part to keep the men in line, hehe. Have fun with that one ;)

  30. 30.

    […] Rachel: Characteristics of a Mormon Feminism […]

  31. 31.

    Lynnette, a last point before I go on to enjoy take 2. I can’t see any clear reason why a religious person should not just adopt secular feminism. One doesn’t need a special Christian version of dentistry, historiography, international relations, etc., right? For Mormons particularly there is the idea that all truth is one regardless of its origins. It seems to me that a Mormon and/or a Christian is free to just say that some version or other of secular feminism gets it right and is the truth, hooray!

    If you agree that this is a live alternative, then the agenda here has to include building a better feminism, not just a feminism with a new geneology.

  32. 32.

    Ahh, Rachel, but you might want to note in point 2 that we’re trying to avoid gender stereotyping. ;)

    JNS, that’s a really good question. I hadn’t thought of it quite that way. And it’s true that I’ve mostly avoided that larger question, about why religious feminism is better than secular feminism in the first place–because I’ve been assuming that Mormons are going to come at it with that premise. But if all truth is one, regardless of its origins–and I agree with that as being a very Mormon idea–then you’re right; I’m going to have to make that case as well. As is doubtless evident, I have yet to come up with a good answer to that, and I should warn you that take two doesn’t either (you’ve probably realized that by now!), as it was primarily addressing the concern that I wasn’t being Mormon enough.

    I’m off to church. I’ll do my best to ponder that question in sacrament meeting.

  33. 33.

    Hi Lynnette,

    First-time commenter here, so I’ll try not to stick my foot in my mouth. It seems to me that it certainly might be possible to differentiate an LDS feminism from the point of view of other Christian women, who probably struggle with the same issues that Mormon women do. At the very least, along with the eternal nature of gender and the existence of Heavenly Mother, we should be cognizant of a very different take on the Fall and the events in the Garden of Eden as a “founding myth,” if you will.

    I think that a lot of Christian male supremacy is based, ultimately, on that whole incorrect story of the weak woman who gave in to temptation, ate the apple, and wrecked Eden for all of us. When we understand what Eve did for us, and Adam’s partnership with her, we should be grateful – I’m reminded of Elder Oaks’ talk in Oct 1993 Conference, in which he said, “Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.”

    We don’t always do as good a job at that as we should, obviously. But from the first day out of the Garden we should have a different understanding than the rest of the world of the value of both genders.

    I look forward to reading Part II; I just wanted to get that down while our very good gospel Doctrine lesson was fresh in my mind. ;)

  34. 34.

    This is very important work, glad to see it will be a series.

    Working from inside to out makes much more sense than grafting.

  35. 35.

    Lynnette’s obviously tackled an extraordinarily philosophically ambitious project here in attempting to derive a distinct feminism from Mormonism. But even if it turns out, as JNS proposes, that feminism can’t get anything from Mormonism that it doesn’t already have in its various secular incarnations, there’s deeply practical rationale for her undertaking. If we Mormon feminists hope for change in the church on any scale, Mormons indifferent or hostile to secular feminism are a key audience, for the simple reason that they have the power to change things. The more of our feminism we can derive from Mormonism, the more persuasive we’re likely to be.

  36. 36.

    I see an obvious problem with most versions of feminism – it seeks to “make gender neutrality” by getting the woman out of the home to the workplace where we find “ultimate” status. Why doesn’t feminism ever look the other direction and try to get gender equality by having both men and women in the home instead? Seems silly – but why? Now imagine if we decided that in order that no woman would ever be stuck as a “housewife” that we were going to have absolute gender neutrality by neutering all of humanity so there are no more children to make us decide who will have to work in the home and care for the children. That too seems silly – because there’s no future in it. Let’s make sure world view doesn’t obscure one of the great purposes in life.

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