A Husband’s Perspective on Mormon Feminism
“I’m wondering why I don’t care more about this.”
Embarrassing, I know. Especially given the intellectual horsepower in the room at the time. The sincerity of the moment demanded my honesty. I felt bad for my wife. I wish I could be a stronger advocate.
I’m passionate about many things. Education. Global poverty. Genetic disorders. Innovation. Economics. And the list goes on. But “Feminism” doesn’t captivate me. However, I do recognize many instances of inequality in the church. But so far, I see such inequalities as individual problems rather than systemic issues. Now, I’m not saying feminism is not a worthy endeavor, but that I don’t feel any unique sense of dedication or motivation. And this troubles me.
For her part, Jessawhy has been totally understanding and patient in helping me understand the issues and articulate my thinking. I’ve got a full-time job and three active children. I don’t multi-task. And my pious calling as the EQP occupies what would otherwise be my free-time. So I haven’t had the luxury of thinking, pondering, and debating the issue of feminism.
In my line of work we say that you should never arrive at a conclusion but that your thinking should iterate. It’s a small recognition of intellectual humility. So here is my internal dialogue on Mormon femminism, humbly offered. At work we would call these “Level One” questions. I would like some guidance. I urge you to be gentle. (Warning: this is stream of consciousness and represents a level of internal contradiction.)
- Could it be that Mormon feminism seeks to address issues that are not really a “problem”? It’s not like Apartheid, Nazi’s, HIV in Africa etc. Those are situations that demand/ed change. Is f\eminism the same? While everyone agreed what the Nazi’s did to the Jews was reprehensible, not all agree the current plight of woman (even within the church) must be changed.
- What qualifies as a problem? One difference between Mormon feminism and, say, Apartheid is that those whom third-parties considered victims also considered themselves victims. However, when it comes to Mormon feminism, the perceived victims, women (in many cases,) do not always consider themselves victims, even when introduced to outside thinking/information. This makes feminism simply look like a personal preference (or a vendetta).
- Maybe inclination to Mormon feminism is a preference, like taste-buds. Many moral philosophers claim a person’s morality can be likened to one’s taste. I have a preference for spicy, or sweet or salty. Maybe feminism is really salty and it attracts those who favor that taste.
- After hearing arguments for Mormon feminism, I ask myself, “So what?” Is that less “noble?” Is it somehow selfish? I don’t think so. I believe people are born into situations for a reason. Maybe to change something. Best not to get in the way. So why don’t I help? Just because something is good doesn’t mean it is good for me. Being a doctor is good but that doesn’t mean I should be a doctor.
- What do I gain through adopting/realizing feminism? Is my worship less meaningful without the divine feminine? How would I know? Though my worship may be affected, is my salvation? What doctrine would change? Wouldn’t I still be expected to love my neighbor, have faith, and serve?
- How do I find out if it is good for me? If I stand to gain then clearly it is “good” for me. Also, anything that helps my spouse is “good” for me as well.
- Is Mormon feminism good for my spouse? She doesn’t look very peaceful. But that’s not a bad thing. She seems quite fulfilled in other ways. Cognitive dissonance is a noble fight. Which leads me to . . .
I see Mormon feminism like many other doctrinal issues in the Church and problems of theodicy. You either have to go really deep to try and understand, knowing you may not come out alive, or leave it alone and not go at all.