Feminist Choices, Feminist Baby Blessings
by guest poster Angela C.
My daughter is now almost six months old. And there has been no baby blessing.
I’ve had a hard time figuring out what the right way to approach this blessing is. Should I insist on standing next to my husband? Should I speak a blessing myself after my husband has spoken? Should I do a separate mother’s blessing, surrounded by a circle of trusted women? In chewing over these questions for the past few months, I’ve come to realize that my dilemma mirrors a couple of different feminisms.
On the one hand, I could go the liberal feminist route. This feminism works toward incorporating women into existing male dominated structures. In terms of this baby blessing, that would mean us having the blessing at home, with my husband and me together holding the baby while my husband reads the blessing that we (mostly I) have written for our child. A true liberal feminist option would mean me also voicing a part of the blessing, but because of extended family dynamics, my husband reading our blessing is probably the best we can do.
On the other hand, I could go the radical feminist route. Radical feminism sees existing power structures as so inherently patriarchal that its proponents often withdraw from the structures and form their own women-centered communities and systems. For a radical feminist baby blessing, I would invite a circle of trusted women to gather and bless and share their hopes and spiritual insights for my daughter. We would create our own women centered ritual.
I think at heart I must be a liberal feminist, because the option that I feel most comfortable with is for my husband and me to bless that baby together, in a community of men and women who wish us and our baby well. That strikes me as the way it should be – men and women acting in cooperation, with the approval of our community.
While I find the idea of a separate women’s ritual beautiful and meaningful, I struggle with the knowledge that this would be somewhat underground, something I couldn’t mention casually to members of my ward. I ask myself if I would be giving in, going the easy route with this option, because I would be segregating my feminist convictions to a private sphere, because I would not be inserting myself into that traditional male space and standing right next to my husband as his equal partner, thus making a public visual statement of our egalitarian convictions.
I’m not sure what we will ultimately decide — many factors will come into play, including what my husband and family are comfortable with. But what I am interested in finding out is which feminism attracts you more? Are you more drawn to liberal feminism, to incorporating women into existing structures? Or do you prefer to withdraw from those existing structures and form your own women centered ones? Which one do you think is ultimately more compatible with Mormonism?
n.b. I’m painting with broad brush strokes here. If anyone would like to nuance my characterization of these feminisms, please go ahead and do so.