Aug 21

What Do LDS Men Get?

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, what do men get? That’s a pretty good question. What do we get? I was thinking about that question a month or so ago, when I had occasion to be interviewed by a reporter representing a major magazine in Europe, and this reporter was very, very fun to talk to. I liked her immensely. But I was just waiting and ticking off in my head, I wonder when she asks me how it feels to be an oppressed Mormon man, and like on cue, she said, “Now, in most of the major talks from your leaders directed at LDS church membership I hear about how incredible Mormon women are, while men are mostly chastised for their shortcomings. I’m assuming you feel oppressed about that, so how do you deal with that?” Continue reading

Feb 18

An Ethnographic Examination of the Representation of Women’s Bodies in a Religious Publication (Running Title: Boobs in the Ensign)

In a conversation among some of the permabloggers, we started talking about modesty within LDS culture. Although I felt that everything that could be said about modesty has been said already, Ziff raised an interesting question of whether women with certain body types were more likely to be shown in the Ensign than women with other body types. Specifically, he posed the question of whether women with smaller breasts were more likely to be shown than women with larger breasts. Given that I like to code and analyze data almost as much as Ziff does (I mean, really, I doubt that anyone in the universe could love this as much as Ziff does), I decided to conduct an assessment of this very question.  Continue reading

Aug 25

Are gospel doctrines more vague when they are applied to women?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is built upon the idea that we can seek answers to fundamental questions about ourselves and our relationship with God.  Many celebrate the peace they find in the church through having answers to life’s deepest questions. However, I would contend, that many of the essential doctrines of the church are much more clear when they are applied to men than when they are applied to women. Subsequently, among members of the church, there appears to be a wider variety of opinions about how these doctrines apply to women, while the application of these doctrines for men is much less contended. Below, I have listed three essential areas of doctrine in which I think this is the case. Continue reading

May 25

Blind spot: The assumption that all women can use their sexuality to influence others.

I was recently listening to the awesome feminist mormon housewives podcast episode in which Lisa Butterworth talks to Brad Kramer about what it means to be a male feminist.  I particularly liked his discussion about modesty and sexuality and how he wants to frame those issues for his children.  There are many, many parts of this discussion that I wholeheartedly agree with.  For example, I really like his discussion about how the current modesty rhetoric in the church reinforces the idea that girls and young women are primarily sexual instead of sexuality being only a part of who they are as a person overall.

That being said, there were a couple of statements within this discussion that brought me up short.  Continue reading

Apr 30

How often are men and women quoted in General Conference?

Soon after I finished my most recent post, I realized that it would be fairly easy to assess how often men and women are quoted and how often stories are told about men as opposed to women in General Conference.  I decided to analyze the most recent conference (April 2013) to get the most up-to-date data.  From the April 2013 conference, I randomly selected two talks from Priesthood Session and two talks from the General YW Meeting (and by random, I mean truly random.  I assigned each talk a number and used a random number generator to select talks for me).  I also randomly selected two talks by men from the main sessions of conference and analyzed the only two talks that were given by women. Continue reading

Apr 29

How often are men and women quoted in church?

I have heard anecdotal evidence that men are much more likely than women to be quoted during LDS church services, and that stories about men are more often shared than stories about women.  It is not surprising that this trend would exist given that the majority of scripture stories in the LDS canon are about men and that the majority of modern-day conference speakers are men.  In light of  this anecdotal evidence, I decided to collect some data to get a better idea of the percentage of times men vs. women are quoted and the percentage of stories that are told about men as opposed to women during a typical church service. Continue reading

Feb 28

Another Conversation Stopper

There are several phrases commonly used to shut down discussions surrounding gender issues in the LDS church.  My co-bloggers have already discussed several including: “If you only understood your role as a woman, you would be happy.” and “Admit it. What you really want is the priesthood.”  One that I have been thinking about a lot recently is the phrase, “Men and women are just different.”  This phrase is often used to justify any differential treatment of men and women within the LDS church.  However, I find it a pretty poor justification for this differential treatment for several key reasons.

Continue reading

Jan 27

On Stewardship and Revelation

In a 1997 talk, Elder Gerald Lund spoke of 5 ways you can distinguish between real and counterfeit revelation.  For number 5, he stated the following:

5 A person is not given revelation to direct another person unless they have priesthood or family responsibility for that person.

This principle is described by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the principle of “stewardship in revelation.” This means that “only the President of the Church receives revelation to guide the entire Church. Only the stake president receives revelation for the special guidance of the stake. The person who receives revelation for the ward is the bishop. … When one person purports to receive revelation for another person outside his or her own area of responsibility … you can be sure that such revelations are not from the Lord” (“Revelation,” New Era,Sept. 1982, 46).

Continue reading

Nov 23

Everything I Know about Feminism I Learned from the 1970s

At a recent FAIR conference, Joshua Johanson spoke about how he has negotiated the conflict between his same sex attraction and his religious faith.  Something that struck me about this talk was a comment he made near the beginning about his wife’s relationship with the feminist movement and how it is similar to his relationship to the gay movement.  He stated: Continue reading

Oct 21

LDS Undergraduate Women: “Major” Decisions

Being a woman in a male dominated major at a school with a large LDS population can be difficult.  Although many of the male students won’t treat women any differently, there are some who will act threatened by or uncomfortable with women in these programs.  It is not that uncommon for women to be told that they are “taking up the spot” of a potential breadwinner, or asked what in the world they are going to do with their major once they are a stay at home mom.  Generally, the stereotypes of women in male dominated fields is that they are career oriented and thus are not interested in having a family.  There is also an assumption that women in male dominated majors must be planning on using the major in a stereotypical female way by going into teaching or part-time work. Continue reading

Sep 22

Spiritual Authority Figures and Spiritual Role Models

I am going to start out with a couple of thought questions.

First of all, in general do Mormon women see Mormon men as spiritual authority figures and spiritual role models? I would say, yes.  Many Mormon women look up to their Bishops and Stake Presidents and listen carefully to the insights that they share over the pulpit.  Many Mormon women listen carefully during General Conference and later study and highlight the words of the male General Authorities.  When they attend council meetings, most Mormon women will agree that the Bishop or Stake President gets final say and will do everything they can to support the leader’s decisions. Continue reading

Sep 05

Missionaries and Mental Health

In the middle of my mission, I had two very sick companions one after the other.  With both companions, their health was so bad that we slowly spent more and more time in the apartment until they were eventually sent home.  It was a challenging experience for me in both cases as I focused my energies entirely on supporting them in this frustrating circumstance.  After the second one went home, I was assigned an extremely energetic and capable companion.  I missed my previous companions, but was relieved to have the pressure taken off so I could focus on missionary work again.  However, soon after I got this new companion, I spiraled into depression. Continue reading

Aug 03

The Mormon Adolescent: Roles and Responsibilities

During my early years in Young Women’s, I was not given many leadership opportunities.  I don’t remember if I ever served as a councilor to a class president, but I do remember that I wasn’t called to be a class president until I was in Laurels.  This caused some anxiety for me, a shy and awkward girl who was really trying to do the right thing.  Why hadn’t I ever been called, when other girls had?  Had I done something wrong?  When I was called to be the Laurel’s class president, I really saw myself as a role model to the younger girls and tried hard to make them feel welcome and safe in Young Women’s.  I was able to focus on them, instead of my own shyness and awkwardness.  One of the best experiences I had was serving as a youth leader at girl’s camp.  It was my sixth year attending camp and the leaders put me and the other 6th year completely in charge of the 3rd year girls.  During camp, we planned all their activities and taught them everyday.  I slept next to my group of girls in our cabin and could see that they really looked up to me.  I felt proud of the responsibility I was given and while I didn’t consider myself and adult, I saw myself moving toward a more adult role.   Continue reading

Jul 22

Aurora Shooting-We need to talk about better identification and treatment for mental illness

Although this post is a bit off topic for a Mormon/feminist blog, I feel that it is important enough to discuss that I am including it here.  As most people are likely aware, on July 20th a 24-year-old man came through the exit door of a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire on the audience.  Twelve people have been confirmed dead from the shooting, and 58 people were injured. Continue reading

Jul 08

Continuity and Discontinuity in Identity During the Transition to Motherhood

One of the key principles of developmental psychology is continuity and discontinuity. In lay terms, this refers to what changes and what stays the same within an individual over time. I have been thinking a lot about this recently because of my own personal journey into motherhood and how that journey evolves as my son grows and changes.  Last week, I pulled out the photo books that my mom had faithful constructed of my growing up years.  Just looking at the photos reminds me of the type of person I was throughout childhood, high school, and undergrad.  I was always very contemplative and “in my head”. Continue reading

Jun 30

Reason and Emotion

When the BBC’s modern version of Sherlock aired in 2010, it appealed to my deep seated love of problem solving, mysteries and attention to detail. I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles and one or two of the short stories in the past, but decided to read the entire Sherlock canon, which is comprised of four novels and 56 short stories. Overall, they were a very enjoyable read. However, given that the stories were written between 1887 and 1921 it is not surprising that Sherlock holds some extremely sexist attitudes.   Continue reading