Jul 04

Of Persecution, Polygamy, and Youth Treks

This guest post comes to us from Greg Nelson. Greg lives in Allen, Texas, with his wife and three kids, and has business degrees from both BYU and BYU-Idaho.

“In many ways, I feel about the Church the same way I feel about my family…I and my siblings might go on for hours about what’s wrong with the family, but let an outsider say one negative thing and my claws will come out.  I fight it and complain about it, and it’s so deeply woven into my identity that I can’t imagine who I would be without it.” –Lynnette

This behavior is everywhere, but especially in our young missionaries. Just about every one of them returns home with a newfound loyalty and commitment to the church, developed at least in part by the refiner’s fire of outside criticism and persecution. With each slammed door, skins thicken and commitment swells. To be sure, some develop a loyalty because they’ve actually seen how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can transform and bless lives. But I submit that a significant number return home so certain of their testimonies simply by virtue of having that  testimony challenged and questioned day in and day out. We as a people relish these missionary experiences. They strengthen our resolve.  An example would be Elder Holland’s April 2014 General Conference talk, which describes in disturbing detail how two sister missionaries had food spit and thrown at them simply because they were Mormon. Continue reading

Apr 04

Ordain Women, Women’s Ordination

A guest post from Jacob Baker, whose first guest post on ZD can be found here. This post is also on Jacob’s personal blog.

At the outset, I should say that at this point nothing is going to stop Ordain Women, whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s clear that no amount of criticism or shaming will fracture the movement. In fact, these have really only served (unsurprisingly) to strengthen it and add to its numbers. OW may have begun as an organized movement but has become something of an event, in the philosophical sense of that word–the eruption of something new that breaks with the prevailing order, something which marks a before and after. Those who are riveted by an event (like Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ, after which he was never the same again) can only understand certain truths in its wake. Continue reading

Mar 29

10 Things to Like about the General Women’s Meeting

This guest post comes to us from a ZD reader and commenter who goes by Thokozile. Thokozile studies cell biology, which mainly involves looking at tiny things and describing them in complicated ways. She has also been known to play the organ, wear purple pants, and lick banana slugs.

I was expecting the General Women’s Meeting to alternate between sappy, offensive, and boring. I can’t say I was wrong, nor can I say that it was historic, but my low expectations made it easy to notice the good things that happened. Continue reading

Mar 24

American Two-Party Politics Finds a New Battleground in the Ordain Women Movement

This guest post comes to us from Esther, a globetrotting sociologist and West Coast native. She loves Jesus, her family and friends, Jimmy Fallon, Michelle Obama, fresh salsa, and Tillamook cheese. In that order.

The obvious drawback of belonging to the Only True And Living Church On The Earth is associating with a lot of people who like to be right all the time. There may be One True Church, but there is not one true political party. Unfortunately, sometimes we confuse our gift to know the truth with an ability to know all truth and to assume that whatever truth God has given to us applies to everyone else. Is it possible that God could inspire two different people to vote for two different political candidates? Continue reading

Feb 05

On Being Needed vs. Being Necessary: Some Thoughts on Women, Priesthood, and Responsibility

[This post, from Jacob Baker, originally appeared at his blog All Eternity Shakes: Letters From the Vineyard. It has been slightly revised from the original. Jacob describes himself as “a student of religion and a stalwart fanboy of Zelophehad’s female offspring. Ok, and the guys too.” We’re excited to have him guest-posting for us.]

Women cannot be regarded as fully human until the full measure of responsibility and accountability is theirs. This is where the charged rhetorics of modesty, pedestalization, and singularity and specialness of gender are all mutually embedded–in the wonderful-terrible blessing and burden of cultural, institutional, and religious responsibility and accountability. This is also why the rhetoric of “equality” should be replaced with one of responsibility and accountability. Responsibility is what is really at stake with this kind of empowerment, and it is really what we mean by “equality.” Responsibility is the decisive and irrevocable difference between becoming angels or becoming gods. Continue reading

Dec 23

My life as a member of the church

The following is an excerpt from an interview between a member of the Strengthening the Members Committee and missionary rodent, shortly after she was taken into captivity

How long have you been following us?

My people first came to this planet in search of intelligent life in the hopes of opening trade negotiations, and seeking a new avenue for allies in our continuing war–

Continue reading

Jan 26

Talking About Gender Differences

This guest post comes to us from Beatrice.

In our society, we like to talk about the differences between men and women. It is the stuff upon which great novels and films are built. It can be used as a source of bonding with our same-sex peers “Oh, my husband does that too,” or it can be used to explain our relationship struggles “I just don’t understand why women do that.” Talking about the differences between men and women adds a certain richness to our lives and resonates with the way that we think about the world. There is something so appealing about the idea that “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.” In church settings, there is an added layer to all of this. We like to talk about gender differences because it is an essential part of our doctrine. Women always were women and will always be women. Men always were men and will always be men. These inherent, divinely organized differences are the reason why men and women should play different roles in the church organization and in society. Continue reading

Mar 17

Guest Post: How Mormon Women Negotiate Contradiction

The following is by Katya’s friend Nocturne, who is gathering information for a paper she’s writing, as explained below. We’re hoping her questions will generate insightful reflections upon personal experience and lively discussion. If you would like to respond to her questions privately, we’d encourage you to send your answers to “info at zelophehadsdaughters dot com” and we will happily pass them on to her.

Sex, in the biological sense, is the irreducible raw material upon which the social construction of gender is built. The Mormon meaning of gender and gender roles is inextricable from the history of power differential between genders. I am writing a paper on the contradictions that women in the church either have to accept or dismiss, explain away and legitimize or fight against. As women in the church, we are presented with contradictions: on one hand, we are taught that we have agency to act as you feel right, told to get educations, expected to be self-reliant, and held to high spiritual and intellectual standards, but, simultaneously, the church creates the expectation (and, maybe, manipulation) of only choosing one route: married, stay-at-home housewife, mother. Continue reading

May 01

After Gonzales v. Carhart

This guest post comes to us from frequent ZD commenter and blogging veteran ECS.

Much of the publicity surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent abortion decision has died down. The Court’s reasoning in Gonzales v. Carhart, however, deserves a closer look. Whether you believe a woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy is not the focus of this post. This post’s focus is on the problematic reasoning in the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales, that, among other things, questions the capacity of a woman to give informed consent to undergo a horrifying, yet perhaps necessary, abortion procedure. Continue reading

Jan 12

Having One Spouse Be In Charge

(Since this issue came up several times in the comments on the feminist concerns poll, it seemed worth opening it up for discussion on its own thread.)

Proud Daughter of Eve wrote:

I have no problem with a man presiding in the home because someone has to be the head and if the mom is staying at home with the kids then isn’t that enough responsibility? Why does she have to make ALL the decisions in the house?

Sue (and others) responded:

Why does someone have to be the head? In our marriage, we’ve seen no need for one person to be in charge, or to have the final say. I don’t understand why it would be necessary…

What advantages and/or disadvantages do people see to having one spouse take an “in charge” kind of role? If you’re married, is that how you would describe your relationship?

Dec 09

Authenticity in Relief Society

Sally raised this great question on Eve’s “Relief Society Goes Berserk” thread:

I am teaching RS tomorrow on unity and have been thinking alot about what creates unity. One post mentioned that we don’t have “authentic voices” in RS, we don’t share our struggles because we need to put on our happy faces at church to fit in with the rest of the happy faces.
How can we mourn with those that mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort if those needs are carefully kept hidden? I love the “good new minutes” in RS because I feel like I get to know the sisters better, hearning of their joys. But how can we share bad news? I wouldn’t want RS to turn into a session for complaining, especially about others in our lives. So how can we open up to each other so we can better see in each other’s hearts?

Dec 06

Finding Middle Ground

Jessawhy recently posed this excellent question:

I’m wondering if there is any middle ground between being 100% behind anything that any living prophet has ever spoken, and rationalizing myself out of the church.

How do you find the middle ground? How do you stay active without feeling like you’ve given your brain up to the Borg? Is there a middle ground? (In the scriptures it really seems black and white, maybe Satan tricks us into thinking there are shades of grey).

Nov 30

Mark IV’s Next Two Questions: Diversity within Feminism

In case people aren’t completely burned out on the topic of feminism, I thought we’d continue with Mark IV’s questions. Here are the next two.

4. It is assumed that feminists value diversity. Why, then, is feminism in America almost exclusively espoused by well educated white women? Is this a coincidence, or is that fact trying to tell us something important? Is our assumption false from the start?

5. Mormons in Utah vote in a pattern that is about 80% predictable. This fact is often viewed as evidence of a sort of narrow dogmatism and intolerance of diversity. Feminists vote in a pattern that is about 90% predictable. Do the same assumptions apply? Why or why not?

Nov 24

Mark IV’s Next Two Questions: The Contradictions and Costs of Feminism

OK, let’s try a couple more. (Sorry, Mark, in looking over these again, I realize I probaby should have paired your second question with your first.)

2. Does feminism have any built-in limitations or internal contradictions? If so, what are they?

3. We often (rightly) enumerate the ways in which women’s lives have improved as a result of feminism. Has there also been an offsetting downside? Have the gains been made entirely without cost?

Nov 20

Mark IV’s First Question: The Limitations of Feminism

Near the end of Kiskilili’s recent post “Where Do Mormon Feminists Come From?” our frequent commentator and good friend Mark IV proposed a short list of questions he’d like to see feminists discuss. Here follows the first of those questions. I’m looking forward to reading what people have to say about the issues he raises.

1. Given that the feminist critique of our culture is so often valid and accurate, how can we know when it is not? A woman who is dismissed from her job might attibute her dismissal to sexism, but maybe she is just incompetent. Feminism is a useful tool, but are there tasks to which it is not suited?