Exponent II: A Journey of Discovery

Fall Winter 2015 coverExciting news! The double issue for Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 is in production and will be mailed on April 30th. You don’t want to miss this 68-page celebration of Exponent II’s 40 years in publication with writings from so many beloved Mormon feminists like Gina Colvin and Lavina Fielding Anderson (not to mention the ones listed on the cover)!

Our Letter from the Editor comes from former assistant editor and Exponent permablogger, Heather Sundahl. Heather is entering her 20th year of Exponent II involvement, and there’s no one better to introduce this issue, the last piece of our 40th anniversary celebration.

Whenever people talk about Exponent II’s origin story, the word “discover” is always used. In 1972 Susan Kohler “discovered” a stack of original Woman’s Exponents published a century earlier whose purpose was to advocate for “the Rights of the Women of Zion, and the Rights of the Women of all Nations.” And as you can read in the retrospective essays of Claudia Bushman, Laurel Ulrich and Judy Dushku, within two years of that unearthing a brave group of women in Cambridge would decide that the time was right to start anew.

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The 5th Sunday Project

the 5th sunday projectIn today’s world of internet communication, we Mormons have access to a lot of information about our faith. [ ie - Websites are dedicated to our temple ceremonies, scriptures, and interests. The Bloggernacle is full of thoughts and attitudes about devotion, practice, and culture. And The Church itself puts out videos, article, recourses, and essays on lds.org.] Some of this information is troubling and difficult to absorb. Many are concerned. These concerns range from authenticity questions about LDS scripture to race imbalances.

My concern is for women in the church. I am concerned that in our patriarchal structure of governance, women have limited visibility and voice. I am concerned that in the exclusivity of male-only Priesthood, women have a reduced development in spiritual gifts and inadequate outlets sacred expression.

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“Take a compliment!”

That’s what the older gentleman called out to me as I was buying lunch at the beach. I had on a tank top and a maxi skirt. That’s all it took to warrant him shouting out to me in public, “You got a nice shape, baby!” For the first few seconds after, I felt so uncomfortable. It was one thing for a close friend or family member to say that I look good; it’s another to hear it from a random stranger in a loud populated area, for all to hear. Deciding to not let him get away with such callous behavior, I confidently shouted back at him, “Go away!”


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New Series: Queer Mormon Women*

Queer Mormon Women*

This new series from The Exponent features Queer Mormon Women*.  Join us as we hear the experiences, voices, stories, and musings of Mormon people who identify in some way with being a woman, being Mormon, and being queer!  The series is written by several queer Mormon women*, which we all hope will provide greater visibility and reach for queer perspectives.

Click HERE to find all the published posts in the series, to date.

* * *

First things first: what do all these terms even mean!?

Why do we use an asterisk after women?  Why do we use the term “queer”?  Why aren’t all LGBT women just called lesbians?  Why do we need all the letters in LGBTQIA+?  What does the plus sign stand for?  Let’s give you a brief overview, that covers these terms, but doesn’t necessarily represent all queer experiences.

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Poetry Sundays: Spirit Flowers


Spirit Flowers

By Della Burt

Spirit flowers are our lives,

We move in the

promise of the future.

We watch the ones

born unto us

walk, talk, dance, sing


into the futures we’ve dreamed.

Sometimes losing faith

we bemoan

the wind which blows too strongly

losing our perfection.

We berate the sun

which shines too brightly

baking us black.

We deny love

tormenting our waking hours.

We kill the dream

leaving goals unattended.

But then the gentle breeze blows;

The sun breaks open our smiles;

The dream is reborn

Our love blossoms and

we are fulfilled.

The blue sky and warm sunshine

caress our shoulders

and wrap us in security

making us believers again.

We create

and what we create

is our future.

Spirit flowers we are.

This poem found me a few months ago when I was losing hope and faith.  I remember how it felt when the “dream” first came alive for me.  The energy and power I felt in fighting for a better future for my children.  But this year, especially in Mormon Feminism, it feels like the elements have raged against us.  Like the flowers, we have been scorched and beaten by the sun and wind until we feel like withered, lifeless forms.  It’s hard not to lose ourselves, not to become hardened in this harsh climate.  It’s hard not to become angry at the institution that has hurt us.  It becomes hard to love, especially to love those who don’t agree with us.  I have even felt that a loving bond that was created between us as feminists through our acts of courage to fight the patriarchy has cooled somewhat.  The stress of the harsh elements has caused fighting and division among us.  It’s true, as the poem says, “We deny love tormenting our waking ours.”  That is how it feels to deny love.  It’s torment.  But it happens, understandably, when we feel beaten.

But I found a renewed hope in this poem because seasons come and seasons go.  Even now in the middle of a cold dark winter when I feel sad and hopeless, there is hope.  There is hope that spring will come again and life will be renewed.  And the very elements that once beat us down will one day be less harsh, will be more moderate, will be the very life-giving energy that will bring us back to ourselves.  Will open up our smiles, fill us again with love, “wrap us in security making us believers again.”    What a beautiful, hopeful thought.  And we will continue to create our future.  That’s what we are doing, creating our future, creating our children’s future.  Let’s not forget that, not even when it’s hard.

This poem feels even more meaningful to me when I think about the fact that it was written by a black women, Della Burt.  I have been unsuccessful in learning anything about Della Burt, other than a small glimpse of her life through three different poems published in an anthology called, “Black Sister: Poetry by Black American Women, 1746-1980.”  But I can imagine what her experience in life was, living and raising her children as a black women in mid-twentieth century America.  So grateful I am for the women and men of the past who dreamed and who created a future that is better than what they had.  This poem has reminded me to work to keep that dream alive and to continue to create a better future for the next generation, even when it’s hard.

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Virtual Oases

A round-up of interesting news and links for your weekend!

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