How do you Handle Street Harassment?

How do you Handle Street Harassment?

With this summer’s burst of #yesallwomen, I’ve reevaluated how I deal with street harassment. I’ve lived in three states since I’ve hit puberty and in all places, I’ve experienced street harassment in some form. I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with it for years.

Initially, I just did the “ignore” thing. My first experience of street harassment was being yelled at by some gals in a car while walking home from school as a teenager. I didn’t know what to do except ignore. Looking back, if I had been more informed, I suppose I could have taken down the license plate number and reported it, but that is too much thinking to do in the moment! I was not prepared to know to take down a license plate when I was a teenager.

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We have to tell our stories

retreat_

Just over a year ago, I sat in a cabin with some of my dearest friends.  They were women that I had gotten to know over the years when we had all lived near each other, but most of us had since moved away to different locations.  We had kept in touch via email – we had actually spent most of a year discussing various issues in Mormonism (particularly women’s issues), and we had enjoyed such a rich conversation that we decided to meet up for a weekend retreat.  We left 47 of our 50 combined children at home, packed our favorite treats and games, and met up in the mountains – away from the routine demands of life.  After a day of playing games, gorging on cupcakes, and catching up, we broke into small groups.

And we started to tell our stories.

As a background, I had heard about the Mormon Women’s Oral History Project through a podcast I had listened to – Caroline Kline and Claudia Bushman spoke with Dan Wotherspoon about their book “Mormon Women Have Their Say” (reviewed here by Rachel), and they talked about the project.  As my friend Melissa Mason and I planned our informal friends’ retreat, we talked about it and thought that we could use the Oral History Project as the central activity of the weekend – we thought it would be neat to hear everybody talk about their lives and hear some more background.  So we got some basic information from Claudia, included some USB recording sticks in our packing gear, and sat down to listen to one another.

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How to Access Your Online Subscription on ExponentII.org

Thank you for your patience as Exponent II has undergone some significant changes…we’ve had an explosion in subscriptions and moved to an online database so our subscribers can now manage their own subscriptions online (gift subscriptions and an Exponent II store renovation coming soon!). While we are no longer selling hard copies of our Spring 2014 theme issue, Women and the Priesthood, people who subscribe now (hard copy or online) will have access to the PDF of that issue on our website.

Please note: the last batch of orders went out this morning. Some were placed in late June as we’ve played catch up. Email me at subscriptionsATexponentiiDOTorg if your hard copy has not arrived by August 3rd, and thank you for your patience as our volunteers manager these transitions.

To manage your hard copy subscription account, follow the directions below.  If you have an online subscription, you should be able to follow steps #4, 5, and 7 to access your account and the PDF of the most current issue as well as access to all issues archived.

  1. Go to our new Exponent II store: http://exponent.hyperingenuity.com/store.cgi
  2. Scroll to the bottom and click, “Create an Account”step 1
  3. Fill in the necessary information and click, “Create Account”step 2
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Relief Society Lesson 17: Sealing Power and Temple Blessings

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Click for French Translation/Traduction en français

 

Don’t be fooled! This lesson plan can be a real challenge. I think that more often than not, an almost automated response to this is to ask whoever is serving as the ward or branch genealogy specialist to teach this lesson. And likely, this person will be a genealogy bug who will swirl rings of testimony about how “easy” doing the admin side of genealogy is, topped with a dose or two of guilt for not doing the work, thereby paining us with reminders of our duty to those who have gone before us.

 

So. To be clear, I want to do more genealogy and family line temple work because I have a testimony of it. But I have deep empathy (and experience!) in not feeling motivated to do the work because of raw and aching relationships with genetically, or legally “close” family members whom either they, or I do not seek an ongoing familial relationship now— much less in the eternities. It seems I am not alone in this feeling. Therefore, as I am wont to do, I re-angle the lesson for those of us (ME) who have family issues. (plus, I thought the intro in the lesson seemed a bit pompous. I think that Joseph Fielding Smith’s story was never intended to be pompous—but rather a revelling in the miraculous. But still. The story did not address the real issue of apathy or even hurt in regard to dealing with the closeted skeletons of family history and temple work.)

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Are we not bonded?

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My grandmother passed away a few days ago.

I wrote before of the tender acts of service she received before she passed – the pots of soup, the flowers that kept her home cheery and beautiful, the visits from family members and friends who were touched by her life.  The final weeks of her life were filled with even more tender watchcare - her husband, her children, and her grandchildren were able to show their love for her by tenderly washing her body, rubbing her feet, sitting with her, holding her hand, administering medicine, helping her walk – literally sustaining her all the way through her final breaths on earth.  She was so loved by her family – it was simultaneously a time of holy ministry and tremendous grief.

I’ve thought a lot about those final months – how we were all desperate to see her one last time, to give her one last hug or to say one last “I love you.”  We knew that our mortal separation was imminent, and so it seemed like we were all frantic to make sure that we crammed in as many experiences and loving words as we possibly could.  We didn’t know the day or hour that she would die, but we knew it would be soon, and the impending separation drove us to her bedside.

I’ve heard before that the threat of separation is what bonds us – we would have no incentive to get to know one another or spend time with each other if there were no risk of it ever being over.  

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The Goodness in Others; the Goodness in Me

Suzette and EliTwo years ago this month I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer – and started on a dark journey of hospitals, needles, chemotherapy, nausea, and pain.  I have been reflecting on this time as I pass the anniversary. The thing that stands out the most is how much goodness I saw in others as I struggled through.  It was remarkable to me at the time and continues to be a source of inspiration.

The people I knew well (close friends and family) banded together to form a shelter, so that I rarely worried about my next meal, a ride to the hospital, being alone, or even doing laundry.  My people were beyond generous with their time and resources – and I feel grateful for that every day.

But even outside of my own clan, goodness came to me from all kinds of strangers.  Because I was bald and walking slowly, most people could tell that I was going through some sort of treatment.  I noticed that people smiled at me more and this seemed a sign of solidarity against the great enemy of humankind:  cancer.  Many people approached me to wish me well and give me their prayers.  Waiters and store clerks often discounted items; others (strangers to me) picked up my tab.  Women let me go ahead of them in bathroom lines, teenagers carried my bags, and taxi drivers dismissed charges.  It was astonishing – and wonderful.  I can only imagine that they did these things because they saw “one among them” who was obviously struggling and going through a difficult time.  It was heartening.  I will forever believe in the goodness of humankind because of this experience.

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Coercion within a Church that Values Agency

Hester-marchingMormons believe that agency (free will) is fundamental to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our scriptures teach that agency is God’s gift and plan for us:

Moses 4:3

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him…I caused that he should be cast down.

Yet, several institutional policies and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, Mormon) authorize or require local leaders to coerce members of their congregations. To coerce is “to make someone do something by using force or threats.” Reference A

Temple Recommends as Leverage

Article of Faith 11

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

A local, lay priesthood leader may threaten to confiscate temple recommends from their parishioners, which prevents them from attending any ordinance, including weddings, in any Mormon temple anywhere in the world. Essentially, local lay clergy have the authority to tell a member of their congregation, “Do what I say or I will not allow you to attend your son’s/daughter’s/sibling’s/best friend’s wedding.”

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