Dec 09

A Correlated Mormon Gender Issues Survey

It has come to the attention of the Church Correlation Department that a so-called group of so-called academics has undertaken to do a so-called survey on so-called gender issues among so-called members of the so-called Church. As internet information (including surveys) does not have a truth filter, the Correlation Department has undertaken to edit the survey so that it may be more faith promoting, and less tainted by the philosophies of (wo)men.

Please tell us a little about how you heard about this survey. Who referred you to it?

  • The Holy Ghost whispered to me that I should take it.
  • The Three Nephites exhorted me to take it while they were changing my flat tire.
  • The spirit of a just man made perfect appeared to me and made known unto me that I must take it. I know that I was not deceived, as he refused to shake my hand.
  • Other.

Of course your name is on the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On which other organizations’ records is your name also recorded? (Mark all that apply.)

  • The Republican Party
  • The Church of the Firstborn
  • The Quorum of the Anointed
  • The Council of Fifty
  • The Lamb’s Book of Life

What is your eternal gender?

  • Presider
  • Nurturer

How active are you in the Church?

  • Fully active
  • Fully active, but struggling with being less active

Continue reading

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

Jan 02

Mild Molly Mormon

(As told by Norman the Mormon, hat tip to Shel Silverstein)

Mild Molly Mormon, quoth her first cousin Norman,
Grew up as good Church members do.
She was always in meetings, exchanging hail greetings
Preparing for ol’ BYU.

And while in her youth, the Church teachings, forsooth,
Played sweetly upon her young heartstrings, their truth
Suffused with real beauty and goodness, indeed,
Met her soul’s greatest longing and spiritual need.

But our church is much more than just Jesus and verity,
King Benjamin’s sermon, Mormon’s faith, hope, and charity.
“And that is where Mild Molly’s problems they started
As you will soon see,” Norman sniffed, heavy-hearted. Continue reading

Sep 27

To the Rescue

I support Ordain Women and the call for Church leaders to ask God for new revelation on women receiving the Priesthood. I am impressed by the many women and men who eloquently express their pain and their faith through blog posts and Facebook comments, hoping and praying for change in the Church they love. I admire their courage as they make themselves vulnerable by putting their bodies in line, and politely asking to attend the Priesthood session of General Conference. I am saddened that such direct actions seem to be the only way to enter meaningful dialogue with General Authorities. And frequently I am discouraged by the reactions to Ordain Women from some of my brothers and sisters, fellow members of the body of Christ, fellow Mormons.

“You are prideful. Why don’t you just follow the Prophet? Why don’t you use proper channels? If you don’t like the Church the way it is, why do you stay? You should just leave and find another church.”
Continue reading

Sep 05

Dona Nobis Aequalitatem

In May of 2010, I was standing alone in my new room after having just started a new job for the summer working the dorms at BYU. I had just finished completely unpacking, and everything was in place and orderly. And it was at that moment, when all seemed settled, that I decided I had to leave.

There I was, just done with my first year at BYU. The past year and a half of my life had been spent fighting against a thought that started as a small flicker but overtime became impossible to push back. That struggle had been spent with what seemed like virtually constant prayer, and I was feeling very close to God at that time in my life—closer than I had ever felt before.

And so, I sat down at the end of my bed and said a simple, to the point prayer. . It wasn’t a prayer of asking—I am much too decisive a person for that. I said something like “Hey. I know I just unpacked and everything. But I can take it no more, and I have decided to leave the church. No one understands my struggle better than you—you’ve been with me through it all. But I can’t do it anymore. I do not feel welcome, and I do not feel that this is my home. I’m starving slowly and I am finding no nourishment in this church. I am scared if I stay much longer, the damage will not be reversible and I’ll never recover. So, I have decided to leave. I’ll transfer to a new school. I’ll move on from this.” Continue reading

May 02

“I never noticed women weren’t praying in Conference”

In the discussion of the Let Women Pray movement, one of the comments I heard most frequently was something along the lines of “I never noticed women weren’t praying in Conference.” In a few cases, the context suggested that the statement was being made as a marker of being more righteous than thou, but in most cases, it came across to me as a genuine statement of surprise. Heck, I probably said something similar at one point. I don’t think I had ever really thought about the question until I read Cynthia L.’s post on the issue at BCC a couple of years ago.

Even for all of us who sincerely hadn’t noticed that women weren’t praying, though, I think a lot of people drew the wrong conclusion. Specifically, they concluded that because they hadn’t noticed, then it must not be a problem and must not need rectifying. I think this is completely backwards, though. The fact that so many of us hadn’t noticed this very public and constantly repeated instance of institutional sexism means that sexism in the Church is a huge problem.

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

Nov 18

On Mission Hierarchy, Gender, and Organizational Communication

In support of RAH’s Sister Missionary Leadership Project over at fMh, here’s a post about my mission originally published at Both Sides Now in July of last year.

In our mission we had APs and “Traveling Elders” who assisted with a lot of the nuts and bolts of mission organization (for a primer on the organizational structure of LDS missions, see here). They acted as extra eyes and ears for the Mission President (MP), traveling around the mission area and checking in with different companionships, helping to arrange apartments, discussing difficulties in different areas or companionships, etc. Because mission rules prevented the young Elders from visiting one-on-one with the Sister missionaries, the MP created a calling he dubbed the “Coordinating Sister.” It was the Coordinating Sister’s job, once or twice a month, to travel around the mission area with her companion, work with other Sister missionaries, and then report back to the MP. From my vantage point it was a very helpful calling, since mission culture and rules meant not only that Sisters were often more isolated than Elders, but also that they typically felt very inhibited about discussing problems in companionships with their District or Zone Leaders or even with the MP. (I should probably note that neither I nor any of my companions served as the Coordinating Sister.)
Continue reading

Oct 22

Coercion: Stop it

One of my first posts at ZD was about what I called my “feminist awakening.”  I pinpointed it to a particular summer, the first of my graduate studies.  But, I don’t think it really explained the bigger picture of what really was happening.  That summer wasn’t the beginning of my discomfort with gender inequality, it was just the first time I named it.  And, it was the first time I really dealt with something I came to term “gender coercion.”  And by gender coercion, I mean:

The forcing of another party to act out gendered expectations in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, or some other form of pressure or force. 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

Aug 06

Quietism

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. –Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28

Last March, on the Sunday morning Daylight Saving Time began, I went to church as usual, took my son to nursery, and immediately noticed that the clock in the room was still on Standard Time. I found that my first, entirely natural impulse–to change the clock to the correct time–was so swiftly and automatically stifled that I almost didn’t notice I’d had it. I’ve learned very well to do little at church on my own initiative, lest my actions inadvertently violate an unknown directive or intrude on someone else’s stewardship. Continue reading

Jul 10

Critical Thinking and the Modesty Meme; or, Why We Need More English Majors

Likely everyone has come across the following internet/facebook meme, but just in case you’ve been backpacking in the Andes for the last two weeks with no wifi, or don’t have well-meaning conservative facebook friends, or have blocked all the well-meaning conservative facebook friends, or just aren’t on facebook precisely so you can avoid things like this, here you go:

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

Jul 10

You Talkin’ to Me, Mormon?

I’m in favor of modifying the scriptures to give them gender-inclusive language. I’ve always thought that the strongest argument for this is that gender-exclusive language makes them insulting to women. But I recently encountered another argument that I also find quite persuasive: women find it more difficult to read the scriptures as addressing them.

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Apr 19

Actually, sameness and equality have a lot in common.

Men and women in the church are equal; they’re just not the same. They have different roles, but their different roles are equal. And when you let women do the same things as men do, you’re not making them equal; you’re just trying to make them the same.

This is among the most frequent means I hear of defending gender inequal—err, let’s call it structural imbalance, just so I can get the basic premise down—in the church. Continue reading

Dec 07

My Feminist Beginning: The Joseph Smith Seminar

It has always intrigued me to hear about people’s “realization moments”–for it seems that, often, women and men come to understand feminism in a sudden moment in time when it became clear, or a series of common events that string together to form the sentence, “Something is not right here.”

I have these moments, and I’ve often thought how interesting it was that my first self-identifiable “feminist realizations” floated around in one single summer, the summer I studied at the Joseph Smith Seminar. Continue reading

Nov 27

The Circularity of “Separate but Equal”: A Dialogue in Socratic Form.

Socrates and his pal Piggly-Wiggly are out for a post-Thanksgiving pre-Advent walk down by the river.

Piggly-wiggly: . . . and you know what else? Short people. Short people just need to learn to accept their divinely-appointed height role. It’s not a lesser role, just because they’re not allowed to hold public office or propose legislation. They have a lot of important responsbilities. Their role is just as important as tall people’s role.

Socrates: An interesting perspective, my friend. But, if I may query, why do short people need a separate role? Continue reading

Aug 07

A Partner to Adam

In describing the honored place of women in the plan of salvation, LDS leaders commonly cite the narrative found in Genesis 2, in which Eve is created as a helpmeet to Adam. They often emphasize that in order to be a true helpmeet she would have to be the equal of Adam, and reference the symbolism of Eve being created from Adam’s rib as pointing to her role as a full, contributing partner, one neither superior nor inferior. And not infrequently, the fact that Eve is created at the very end of the story is cited as evidence of her elevated status. Continue reading