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Mormon Feminist Activism

by Jessawhy

While at Counterpoint conference sponsored by the Mormon Women’s Forum last fall, I began thinking about Mormon feminism in a new way. My presentation was about the way Mormon feminist blogs have affected my life and my spiritual journey. Truthfully, I can’t overstate how much the relationships I’ve created with these women from blogs and from my local Mormon feminist community have changed my life.

Thus, I don’t want my post to be mistaken as a critique of current network of Mormon feminists. Perhaps I’m not aware of the past or current attempts to activate Mormon feminists. Here, though, I’d like to examine the possibilities of the future of Mormon feminism as a movement.

The turning point for me at Counterpoint conference was when I began to ask myself these questions: What if there is more to Mormon feminism than isolated blogs like Exponent and ZD and fMh), retreats like DAM, Exponent, Sophia Gathering, and Pilgrimage, and women getting together for book groups and lunch groups? What if Mormon feminism stopped being just a casual thing that many of us have in common, a place to lay our burdens on the breasts of those who care and understand?

What if Mormon feminism could actually DO something?

All of the Mormon feminists I know are ambitious, brilliant, and brave. What is stopping us from doing something to create awareness and cohesion among others like us?

I don’t know exactly what it would look like, but a Mormon feminist movement would have to be well-branded and catchy, pleasant in it’s critiques, and calm in it’s requests. A Mormon feminist movement would be capable of informing people, creating a dialogue, calling attentions to injustices past and present, with aim to improve the rights of women in the church around the world.

Here are my lame attempts at slogans, stolen from modern branding geniuses:

Mormon Feminism- Think Outside the Patriarchy

OR

Mormon Feminism- Got Equality? (I’d love to hear your ideas for branding or slogans)

I’d like to think that a Mormon feminist movement has incredible potential. So many women identify with issues of gender equality, distribution of power within the church and at home, struggles with balancing self and family responsibilities, and even teachings of the church that neglect the divine feminine.

The closest thing I’ve seen to this kind of activism was the What Women Know site in response to Julie Beck’s conference talk. A well written document, it attracted a variety of signers and responses.

Below is my first draft of a name, mission statement, and vision for a Mormon Feminist Movement. I welcome your suggestions or critiques.

Mormon Women of Action

Mission Statement:
Our mission is to share the virtues of feminism with members of the Mormon church.

Vision:
To accomplish this, we invite women to share their personal stories, advocate for change of hurtful policies or practices, find support for alternative opinions or interpretations of church doctrine, and pursue a relationship with divine feminine.

The next part of the process towards activism would have to be organizing and creating consensus for a specific platform. This would be very tricky because of the diversity of beliefs within the group. On one end of the spectrum is the Radical Feminist Manifesto , and on the other end those who are in favor of equality but troubled by any references to requesting change. My hope is that we could find enough issues in the middle to find some compromise.

A unity of groups, and a common umbrella is what I am most interested in. How do we create a popular and positive brand that women are proud to be a part of that still advocates for Mormon Feminism? How do we unite women from all over the world who read and comment on Mormon feminist blogs?

Perhaps I am way off base with this post. I’ve considered that some readers may think that trying to change anything within the church is fruitless either because it just WON’T happen because of currently patriarchal power structures, or SHOULDN’T happen because the way things are is God’s will.

Others may agree with me that changes should and could be made, but don’t see Mormon feminism as a vehicle to do so. Perhaps these readers see Mormon feminism as more of a phenomenon to study or watch with interest, instead of a movement aiming for institutional change.

Lastly, I can imagine a group that may agree with all of these ideas and yet be too scared to sign their name to anything that remotely dissents from the church, regardless of how gentle or well aimed.

In conclusion, activism for things that we care about is part of our daily lives. Last week, I went to Washington D.C. to discuss my sons’ health care needs with our Senators and Congressmen/women. Advocating for equality and women’s voices in the church isn’t substantively different. Perhaps it’s just a matter of changing from an internal dialogue to and external dialogue, of changing our perspective.

I’m interested in your thoughts on the potential for a Mormon Feminist Movement.

Could it work? Would you want it to? Why or why not?

What issues would include in a MFM platform?

Jessawhy

Jessawhy is a wife, mother, community volunteer, activist and student. She is currently working towards a Physician Assistant degree.

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61 Responses

  1. mraynes says:

    I personally love the idea of a Mormon Feminist Movement, Jess. I think all of us long to be part of a movement that brings purpose to our lives. I think the answer to whether such a movement could work is complicated. I think certainly there is a lot of room to educate men and women about feminism and gender equality. (Did you read CJane’s post and its comments?) As for real change within the church, I’m not so sure. I use to think women/feminists could make a difference until I moved into my current ward. I am now convinced that in order for anything to change, men have to be the driving force behind it. The only hope I have of personally changing things is by influencing the men in my life. I guess that’s where the education comes in. This probably isn’t exactly what you have in mind but knowing how things work in my congregation, I’m not sure there’s any other way.

  2. corktree says:

    I have been thinking about this for the last few months. I didn’t want to jump on the Mormon Feminist train without being able to actually DO something, but I think the points you bring up are very valid.

    I think that the blogs and forums for discussion are leading to something and maybe some form of activist group is it, but I don’t know. I have thought for some time that more LDS women would be comfortable identify with liberal feminism if they simply had the opportunity to be educated and do something with it other than what the radical feminists are out there spouting we do.

    Basically, I think there needs to be more strength in numbers by starting out a little softer. If the vision for the movement explicitly implies or even hints at attempts to gain the priesthood right now, than we will never gain the support of the otherwise smart and thinking women that could benefit from and give benefit TO such a movement. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t something that we can add on later as newcomers begin to question and understand more themselves. I think it still has to be a process, and like with the church needing to be ready to accept blacks holding the priesthood (if that’s the interpretation you subscribe to) than I don’t think enough of the female population is ready.

    I REALLY think it would be incredible for all the current Mormon Feminists out there to have a way to participate in global efforts to further the causes of general equality for NOW thought. As a way to build up to the other issues. Many don’t feel that they are welcome in the rest of the movement, even though we are so close on our ideals, so it would be nice to have place where we can do real WORK for the cause and then move on from there once people see what good we do and that we are NOT weakening women’s roles in the church but strengthening them. I think it would be a good thing for the leadership to see as well.

    So, YES to a more active movement (but not to replace the discussions that are still a vital part of the education process).

    Also, I agree that there are many (myself included) that are not ready to sign their names to something that puts them in direct opposition to the church at this time, but I don’t think that the movement needs to start out that way.

  3. corktree says:

    sorry for all the typos, I was going too fast.

    And NOW was emphasis, not the National Org for Women.

  4. Sterling Fluharty says:

    This is an impressive call for activism. What I hear you saying is that gradualism may no longer be a viable option for Mormon feminists. The moment for a movement has arrived.

    I think your reference to What Women Know is noteworthy. That site was a classic example of what Charles Tilly calls WUNC displays: the signers demonstrated their worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitment.

    Your comments remind me of what Tilly said about campaigns. A movement is more than a mostly static web site. It is a sustained and organized public effort by ordinary people. It targets certain authorities and demands change.

    Your emphasis on doing something reminds me of what Tilly says about repertoire. This is where political action enters the equation. You correctly question whether blogs, conferences, book groups, and lunch meetings are enough. I wonder how practices of anonymity and insularity will complicate a social movement for Mormon feminists.

    Radical versus liberal/reform is just one of the tensions that a Mormon feminist movement would have to negotiate. There may differences of opinion on whether the goal of equality should be defined economically, politically, or socially. And certainly there will have to be discussion of whether a movement creates it own leaders or whether the leaders are the ones who make the movement.

    Mormon feminists will likely want to consider the current theories for explaining movements. One of them says that movements cannot happen until sufficient resources are mobilized. Another says you have to frame your issue as an injustice, so that people will realize the severity of the problem and the solutions offered by the movement.

    The downfall of the American feminist movement of the late 20th century may have been the free-rider problem. Too many American women started believing that the movement could accomplish its goals without their individual participation. If a movement for Mormon feminists is to succeed, it will have to persuade large numbers of people that their participation is critical to its success.

  5. Erin says:

    I think mraynes makes a good point about effecting real change in the church. Except I think we could, we just have to start out perhaps with more of an aim toward educating others. I have no idea what our numbers are currently, but increasing them would definitely be beneficial. I think once we can convince men that a significant number of women AREN’T happy with the status quo, that’s when change, even if it’s simple to start with, will begin to occur. As long as the people (men) in charge can keep saying the women are happy then I don’t think we’ll accomplish much. I would love to be part of actively promoting change. As corktree said, it will probably be most successful if it’s a gradual process that doesn’t feel threatening.

  6. Jessawhy says:

    Wow, I am so impressed with the thoughtfulness of these comments!

    MRaynes,
    You’re right about change coming from men, but I think that wives can influence their husbands. It’s hard to believe how far Mark has come in his feminism and open-minded views of the church. He taught EQ yesterday and discussed the ills of blind obedience and even used the word “brainwashing” (gasp!). It’s exciting to see how he can bring more balance to the quorum and allow others who may not see life in black and white (who may also be more open to feminist ideas) to have a voice.
    I did see CJanes post (and thereafter unsubscribed from her blog) after John Dehliin posted about it on facebook. He raised quite a stir, but in the end most people ended up thinking that she is such a product of feminist foremothers she has the luxury of being able to not care about women’s equality. (Her husband isn’t beating her or making her work and taking her money, for example) It’s really unfortunate that she’s come out on the anti-feminist side, because I admire how she has created her own stylish brand of Mormon-ness. I think having something that’s attractive and catchy could get Mormon feminism a long way.

    corktree,
    Interesting that you’ve been thinking about this. . .
    I’m glad you decided to comment.
    I think you’re right about gradual change and starting with issues that aren’t labeled with feminist. Changing tables in the men’s bathrooms comes to mind as well as using the church for women’s activities throughout the week (w/o the need for priesthood brethren there).
    There’s a certain critical mass that we’d have to have before a movement would seem popular and obviously something that progressive people would participate in.
    I like the soft approach. Probably the best is to start with women’s stories. The problem then is that you have a division between women who see the injustices as just sins of one man (say the mission president who keeps a sister missionary in mortal danger for fear of sending another missionary home) instead of the fault of the institution.

    But, perhaps after reading enough stories, women will start to ask themselves, “Is this really just the problem of individual men, or is the system at fault?” “Isn’t there a way for women to have a voice without defiling the patriarchy?”

    I’ve also started to believe in a silent majority. There are a lot of people who carry burdens that aren’t relieved by the church. Perhaps there is a way to tap into these people and get them to speak up about injustice.

    Sterling,
    If I was still a TA and I was grading your paper in my poli sci class, I’d give you an A+ 🙂
    Seriously, though, thanks for your insightful comments. I’ll have to read more of Tilly, he sounds interesting.
    I hadn’t even broached the topic of what kind of equality we would be looking for. Social, political, economic, they’re all mixed in Mormonism.

    As far as the time for gradualism has passed: maybe yes, maybe no. That’s one of the reasons I wrote this post. Am I the only one who wants to see a movement take place? I have a sense that most Mormon feminists are content with sharing their stories, listening and being heard, as well as doing what they can on a local level to affect change. Others who feel the church has no capacity to change have left the church and are only tangentially involved in Mormon feminism.

    This post is less of a call to activism and more of a shot in the dark.

  7. ECS says:

    Impressive post, Jessawhy! I’m not surprised you wrote this after your trip to Washington, D.C. You have to speak up and advocate for your goals otherwise you’ll never get anywhere. Switching gears to Mormon feminism, I think that blogging about these issues comes with benefits and disadvantages – benefits, because we hear stories shared by our brothers and sisters that inspire and strengthen us. Disadvantages, because once our consciousness is raised online (so to speak), we typically don’t have the support from our brothers and sisters in our real life wards to effect change.

    Because advocating for “change” is very often seen as an attack on the Church, it takes a lot of courage, compassion and humility to speak up in Sunday School, or to our Bishops, or even our husbands about ways women could be included and strengthened in Church activities and worship.

    I guess one way to effect change online is to organize women to change very small things about their lives – speak up in playgroup, wear pants to church every so often, include quotes from women and Relief Society leaders in lessons – especially Sunday School lessons. There are others, but I believe that small steps can lead to big changes. We have to be courageous and respectful in taking these steps together, and I think blogging can help us connect to sisters and brothers who want to effect change but who cannot be physically present with us while we respectfully ask our bishops for permission to hold our newborn children as they are blessed in Sacrament Meeting (or any other challenging issue).

    In sum, I think whoever is behind MFM would have to identify very specific areas where we can effect change with the power we already have, and then encourage and support women and men to take small steps to actualize that change in their own wards.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  8. Jessawhy says:

    Erin,
    Thanks for your comment. What you said about a majority of women not being happy in the church really hit home to me. I hadn’t considered how to make a movement into something popular that women would join while still carrying the message that “We’re not happy.” It’s a bit of a paradox, really.

    Or, maybe as Sterling said, I’d have to jettison the idea of popularity and branding and move on to framing the issue as it is, a matter of injustice that we have a human duty to correct.

    It’s too bad, really, because I was hoping for some Anthropologie birds on the slogan 🙂

  9. ECS says:

    P.S. About a slogan for MFM, it would be heartening to see a reference to our Heavenly Parents. I know that discussing our Mother in Heaven is heretical, but mentioning our Parents is preferable to singling out our Father and it provides a “cover” in mentioning our Mother as well.

  10. suzann werner says:

    My speaking about feminist thought for the past 40 years has had minimal affect on LDS women. I have been able to change the perspectives of several Stake Presidents who have responded by including stories about women in their talks, by giving talks on the equality of women, and I have seen many positive changes in some Bishops, but none of this filters down to what happens in RS or YW where we have lessons dominated by the male experience.

    I find that most LDS women, including my own daughters, do not want to let their minds wander into waters that appear frightful and negatively murky. Most women, not taken seriously, or dominated by male chauvinism do not want to connect male chauvinism to inherent problems in church policy. They want to see chauvinism as a problem with individual males in order to preserve their ideas of perfection in the church and in the gospel. And, women want to be compliant, they want to appear to be living in happy perfection.

    I think a blog where women can honestly share their truths might catch fire.(I know women are already blogging away) but one place for honest stories about hurtful church policy may be an idea we could consider.

  11. mb says:

    Interesting idea. Would it work? In my opinion, not well. The larger an organization becomes the harder it is for the members to come to a consensus. That means large amounts of energy get used up in lobbying for your urgent issues to become the group’s urgent issues. And the large diversity of opinions on what the most important issues are in the group means that the group is represented as many different things and therefore more susceptible to misrepresentation or to being egregiously misunderstood.

    I prefer to work solo, networking with others as needful. It may reduce the breadth of my clout but it increases my ownership, independence and agency in the work.

  12. Jenne says:

    I came to feminism through activism so I am at the same place as you but coming from the opposite direction.

    As I am all about activism, I love the idea of activism efforts among Mormon women. I see many opportunities regardless of whether a woman defines herself as feminist or not. I have not pursued it much but I have thought about starting a local advocacy activity group in my ward Relief Society.

    Some activities that I see Mormon women being able to do something about are advocating for grocery stores to remove or cover magazines depicting sexuality or immodestly dressed women at eye level of children. The title would still be uncovered but children would be protected from seeing the overt sexualization of women. That is such a simple activity that is very much in line with the typical church agenda.

    Topics that are near and dear to my heart and I would like to see included in a platform are the normalization of breastfeeding, reducing reports of women in wards being persecuted for breastfeeding behaviors and actively resisting the threats to reproductive freedom (inaccessible VBAC/midwives/homebirth, unnecessary C-sections, coercion in birthing choices). As Mormon women who consciously intent to have large families, the threats to emotional, physical well-being truly can inhibit or damage fertility. Also is the threat to our agency inherent in the gospel. Our Heavenly Parents intend us to have the ultimate responsibility for our families and parenting choices, and to not trust in the arm of flesh (patriarchy) to dictate to us. Additionally, other concerns of women (all) who have the potential or who find themselves in the circumstance of being sole providers for their families. Family centered policy and respect for individual freedoms to choose as their conscience dictates is essential to any feminist platform, IMO.

    End of that soapbox, so on to thoughts for a vision and mission statement:

    I believe that such a statement would be more powerful if it was modeled off of and grows from the existing Relief Society declaration and was connected clearly to complimentary values between feminist and gospel principles (i.e. agency, self-reliance, autonomy, respect, stewardship). I will continue to think on this and perhaps offer my suggestions after I’ve given it some more thought.

  13. Erin says:

    Hm, perhaps I should have said not fully satisfied, rather than unhappy. I meant it more as an idea of “not desirous of any change” rather than emotionally happy. Does that make any sense? Men have to recognize that women, while they may be happy overall as they are, are still desirous of change.You certainly don’t want the main feeling of any activism to be negative, since that won’t likely attract many new people. But you can very easily make it a positive by saying, “Here’s how we can help all women in the church feel more satisfied, uplifted, and fulfilled.”

    Some simple things to start: changing tables in men’s rooms (some buildings do have this, but not all), referring to General RS and YW leaders as “=resident

  14. Erin says:

    Oops. To continue:
    Referring to General RS and YW leaders as “President” rather than “Sister”, more use and recognition of women in the scriptures as examples of leadership (i.e. Deborah as a prophet rather than just an example of friendship), and balancing the overkill on motherhood with a look occasionally at other divine roles women have (which could end up being helpful in making RS lessons applicable to everyone rather than just the young mothers – a definite problem in my ward).

    I’m also definitely for more talk of Heavenly Parents and for greater acceptance of public breastfeeding, as others have mentioned.

  15. Jessawhy says:

    ECS,
    Great comments. About the wearing pants thing, that’s the subject of my next post 😉
    Also fabulous is the idea of women holding their babies during the blessing. Yesterday there was a new family in the ward that blessed their baby and I still don’t know who the mother is. At the very least the bishop should ask the mother to stand and be recognized. Mothers are NOT invisible.
    Which brings me to the bit about a slogan including Heavenly Parents. Another great idea. I’ll have to think more about that one.

    Suzann,
    I know you’re right about women not wanting to rock the boat. However, I’ve been surprised at the positive reactions of my fellow playgroup moms when I introduce feminist issues. Of course, they’re mostly issues of equality (like the Pinewood derby fiasco).

    However, I’m never sure if these girls are just hardwired to be agreeable and so they tell me what I want to hear when we’re together, but they would never actually do or think anything on their own that’s remotely feminist.

    I’d like Exponent to be the blog where women can share their own experiences and realities. It’s not quite as open as a message board, but we’ll always take guest posts and we’re actively looking for submissions for our quarterly publication.
    Perhaps a special section for stories related to hurtful church policy or practice would be helpful.

    mb,
    I appreciate your comment. As Mormons we’re not really prepared for grassroots anything. It’s either the Church or ourselves that is responsible for everything. I agree with your point about the difficulties of a group finding consensus. More than that, I hope that a Mormon Feminist Movement could have a platform and be sympathetic and engaging enough to draw people in (after educating them) to the cause. This is just how I imagine it in my daydream . . .

    Jenne,
    I’m glad to hear that you came to feminism through activism. Your ideas really hit home to me and seem important and balanced enough to appeal to a broad range of women, not just feminists.
    I’d love to hear more about your experiences with activism and how you’ve made a difference in your community.

    Erin,
    I like your distinction. Perhaps there is a way to work toward change while still maintaining a level of happiness or satisfaction. The satisfaction itself lends a level of credibility to the person requesting change, doesn’t it? “I’m satisfied in the church, EXCEPT for the way breastfeeding is handled, the way mothers are excluded from baby blessings, etc.”

    Thanks to everyone for the great input and ideas.

  16. Caroline says:

    Love the idea of a Mormon Feminist Movement.

    Here’s my thought: because there are so many variations of Mormon feminism, create a menu structure within the Mormon Feminist Movement.

    So for those women who don’t want priesthood but just want more visibility for women in the ward, have 5 key action items like: quote women leaders in talks and lessons; meet with bishop and discuss what can be done to recognize and honor women during the three hour block, email the curriculum committee and comment that you’d like women’s voices represented in the RS and GD manuals, etc.

    For those Mormon feminists who are interested in blessings and healings, here are a few ideas to pursue: bless your baby at home, holding it with your husband and voicing part of it; form women’s blessing circles to administer to like-minded women who are sick or in need of comfort; make it a practice to give mothers’ blessings to accompany fathers’ blessings, etc.

    For those women seeking to raise the visibility of Heavenly Mother, here are some action items: make it a practice in the 3 hour block to refer to Heavenly Parents rather than Heavenly Father; in a book group, read Carol Lynn Pearson’s play Mother Wove the Morning and some her poetry that deals with HM, etc.

    You get the picture. I think Mormon feminism should be a big tent and the more we can organize and promote specific action items, while at the same time show flexibility and understanding that people have different priorities, the better, IMO.

  17. Jessawhy says:

    Caroline,
    I love the menu approach (and the big tent analogy).
    Now we just need a cute menu design with flowers and Anthro birds.

    In addition to the action items, we need a more organized system of spreading information. Items like history of the Relief Society, more scripture stories of women, the changing role of women in the church. There are so many things I’ve learned about the strength of my Mormon foremothers that I know being a feminist is what they would want. Helping women see their divine potential as more than just being obedient, but actually participating as equal partners is an important part of the platform.

  18. jddaughter says:

    A Mormon Feminist Movement would be lovely, if we weren’t all afraid of getting excommunicated. That really is my honest to goodness fear. If joining a particular organized movement would put me on a list for fear mongers to attack, then I’d rather float on the blogs.
    Without the fear, I’m sure Mormon Feminist Movement would be quite the popular, world changing organization- possibly more powerful than many feminist movements in judeo-christian tradition.

  19. Sterling Fluharty says:

    Jessawhy: thanks for the kind words.

    mb: are you reflecting on the fate of MESJ?

  20. mb says:

    Sterling,

    No, not MESJ. Though my decision not to join them when they started up was for the same reason. Have they run into the same difficulty?

    I simply speak from my personal experience with various political action groups over the years.

  21. ECS says:

    I think any organization with the word “feminist” in it is probably going to have a very limited appeal to Mormon women and men. I wish we were all enlightened enough so as not to feel threatened by the word “feminist”, but I think the reality is that we need to give people “cover” to advocate for and make changes to increase the participation of women in religious ordinances and leadership activities. It’s not only the threat of excommunication that constrains people, but also the social disapproval that being a “feminist” carries.

    I’m just thinking aloud here, but along the lines of Caroline’s post, maybe the better approach lies in focusing on the words “equal partners” in the Family Proclamation and in recent General Conference talks, and then providing practical examples of women and men being equal partners/leaders in the home and at Church. For example, both fathers and mothers giving their children blessings. The father could give the priesthood blessing and the mother could give a mother’s blessing. As for Church activities, women in my Stake have been given a leadership role as public relations specialists. Public relations is a relatively high-profile position that enables women to represent the Church in areas not related to their traditional roles as nurturers of children and other women.

    In sum, I think it would be more productive to focus on egalitarian teachings instead of requiring people to identify with “feminism” to first show women and men how they can be true “equal partners”. I think taking on the word “feminist” is problematic for so many reasons, including the fact that Church leaders have openly spoken out against feminists (and excommunicated many of them!). We have so many egalitarian teachings to draw from already: Heavenly Parents (without talking about Heavenly Mother), “equal partners” (setting aside the thorny definition of “presiding over”), the Mormon teachings about Eve’s decision to eat the fruit, etc. I think many people are already doing this – our leaders are definitely shifting -however slightly – towards emphasizing the egalitarian ideal over a patriarchal ideal, and we could build upon the efforts that are already being made instead of striking out on our own.

  22. suzann werner says:

    Perhaps something like, WOMEN SPEAKING FOR WOMEN, would be less threatening than FEMINISM.

  23. Caroline says:

    Or

    MORMONS FOR EQUAL PARTNERSHIP…?

  24. suzann werner says:

    Who would not want to sign up for—– MORMONS FOR EQUAL PARTNERSHIP?

  25. ECS says:

    Great! I like the emphasis on “partners”. I think the word “equal” could be problematic, tho. For example, the LDS leadership frequently say that God loves women equally with men in order to justify the blatant inequality that we see in Church practices and doctrines. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the idea of “equality” isn’t all that important to many Mormon women and men – they think they _are_ equal despite the fact that they are excluded from leadership positions and religious rituals. Meaning the word “equality” has already been co-opted to apply only to God’s love for men and women and not to the patriarchal structure of the church and family. Also, “equal partnership” seems to imply equal partners in marriage, which leaves out our single brothers and sisters, and doesn’t promote the idea that women and men should be equal partners in building the kingdom of God through Church participation, regardless of marital status. I guess you’d have to decide who your main audience is before deciding on anything, because it’s impossible to appeal to everyone. I’ll put my thinking cap on and see if I can come up with something…

  26. Caroline says:

    Thanks, Suzann.

    If the title did contain the words ‘equal partnership’ perhaps the tagline could make it clear that we’re talking about men and women working as equal partners in marriage, church, and community.

    I too would not want single men and women to feel excluded from such a movement. Hopefully a tagline could clarify. And as for the word ‘equal,’ I think it’s one we should embrace, even if it’s been co-opted by the patriarchy. The mission statement that follows should make it clear that the equality we’re talking about goes beyond what the church currently defines as ‘equal.’

  27. Markie says:

    A couple of years ago, after a fabulous, but ultimately frustrating feminist women’s retreat, I had a dream (a real, sleeping dream, not the metaphorical type). It was a retreat where we didn’t just talk, we acted. There was a committee to help people not be afraid of the word ‘feminism’ – they were making posters, writing letters to the Ensign, brainstorming a whole Mormon PR campaign. There was a group writing a new YW manual (and I’m loving seeing Beginnings New and others actually working on this – not a new manual, but progressive ways to teach the YW). One committee wrote a pamphlet abour how to get your voice heard without people automatically tuning your comments out as being from ‘that crazy liberal feminist again’. Another was in charge of a new gender inclusive translation of the scriptures. The committee I was on was writing a book – I couldn’t remember what the book was about, but I do remember that it was going to revolutionize Mormon Feminism and the world in general. I woke up energized and excited to do a lot of those things (maybe not the scripture translation), but I’m a much better brainstormer than I am an organizer. I will happily be a worker bee if someone will take the organization activist reigns on any of the great ideas y’all have suggested thus far.

  28. corktree says:

    I like Markie’s idea of a retreat. On an even simpler level, I think it would be nice to start forming local groups (chapters?) of all these like minded women. I know that there are already get togethers based on specific blog groups, but it would be nice to cross the blog boundaries more and find who in your geographical area shares a desire to discuss these things in a physical setting – with agendas in mind, and not socializing alone (though having a social outlet without feeling guarded and closed off would be nice). There just seems to be so much potential and progress that comes from a group of people actively discussing a topic in a physical group. Blogs really do help spread the ideas further, but if we had a very light central theme to these groups to start out and we were able to take ideas back to a central source or committee or something, I think a lot of ideas would come out of it that haven’t even been considered. Plus, there’s nothing like the feeling of local support.

    I love the ideas mentioned and the thought of doing real work in communities like removing the offensive material from grocery store isles. Actions that start small can have a way of growing bigger and spreading with positive public attention.

  29. KayG says:

    Jessica, I like your call to action…

    1. Getting women to tell their stories is easy — look at all the blogs! Admittedly, not everyone is willing to go public in this personal way.

    2. Creating consensus? Good luck on that! You cite “What Women Know,” (http://www.whatwomenknow.org/) as an example of positive activism, and there are 514 female signers and 184 male signers (Men Who Support What Women Know) but apparently there wasn’t enough consensus in that document for many Mormon feminists (including probably the majority who post on this site?) to be willing to sign it.

    Suzann, Mormon Alliance had provided opportunities for people to publically share their honest stories about hurtful church policy.

    Erin, instead of lobbying to call our women leaders “President,” how about lobbying to call the male leaders “Brother,” promoting a less authoritarian organization? But yes, let’s recognize and tell the stories of women.

    Caroline, I like your idea of getting “equality” into the name and including men in the group, to foster the reality that men should also be interested in feminism and women’s equity. Yes, “Mormons for Equality in Marriage Church, and Community” is good, though a bit unwieldy. MEMCAC?

  30. cchrissyy says:

    darnit Mraynes, now I have to go read 500+ comments!

  31. Sterling Fluharty says:

    “Valerie Hudson: A feminist because of faith”:

    http://www.mormontimes.com/people_news/people_church/?id=13731

  32. Jenne says:

    I got some time to ponder on and put together alternative mission/vision statements as well as proposed titles.

    Here’s what I have:
    Feminist Latter-day Saint Women (FLDS) –or–
    Feminists in Zion (joke! but I like it)

    Mission: Our mission is to celebrate the power of womanhood to affect positive social change through the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints.

    Vision: By connecting the ideals of feminism and the teachings of the LDS Church, we create a collaborative partnership of LDS women who advocate for justice, equality and fairness for all women members of the Church throughout the world while fostering community among women and strengthening faith and trust in our heavenly parents.

    You asked about activism efforts I’ve been involved in. You can probably get the best sense from my blog: descentintomotherhood.blogspot.com. I frequently write to my local and state legislators on topics relating to policies that either protect or endanger families and women, particularly in their role as mothers, or by friending me on Facebook.

  33. Jessawhy says:

    jddaughter,
    You’ve pointed to the elephant in our online room. 🙂
    Excommunication is a scary word, and a real fear for many people. I’d like to think that if we could just explain ourselves that others would see how reasonable and refreshingly progressive our views are, but that may not be the case. For the Sept Six that were excommunicated, many of them found understanding men as local leaders, but the direction for excommunication came from much higher up. It’s much easier to punish a stranger than a friend.

    I’m grateful for your vote of confidence in the efficacy of the movement, assuming we could clear the fear hurdle.

    ECS,
    You make excellent points about the troubles that come with using the word feminist. Now that I’ve been a feminist for a while, I forget how the word used to sound to me.
    It seems like we’d have to steer clear of that word in order to actually get people to join and work toward change.

    I really like Mormons for Equal Partnership (until I read CJane’s blog post, I’d thought that no one would oppose it). Still, it’s more inclusive than “women” and not as alienating as “feminism”.

    Markie,
    What a great dream! What retreat did you attend? I’ll put you on my list of worker bees if/when this activism idea ever materializes.

    Corktree,
    I think you’re right about working with people in your geographic area. Having RL feminist friends has changed my life. Unfortunately, I think I get a little complacent and see the friendship as merely social and not utilizing our organization toward activism. Perhaps if I was oriented that way I would continue to increase my circle of feminist friends (by finding other feminists and converting friends into feminists) instead of being happy with the ones I have.

    I like your idea that activism starting small can grow into something big. The key I would guess is to have it be something attractive that people want to be a part of. That’s what I’m hung up on. Where’s our niche?

    KayG,
    Good point about Exponent bloggers not signing What Women Know. I remember at the time I was ambivalent, not sure that a public document was an effective way to create change. Now, though, I would totally sign it, but I’d considered it a document of the past, tied to Beck’s conference talk. Perhaps I’m wrong there.
    And, that would be the difference between a real MFM and a static document like WWK.

    Sterling,
    Thanks for that link. I’ll check it out.

    Jenne,
    Great ideas. I’m really impressed with what you’ve come up with.
    What do you think about the more inclusive language that Suzann, Caroline and others have suggested?
    Do you think we could incorporate a broader audience by shedding the word feminism and focusing on equality?

    Thanks again for comments everyone! This has been very eye opening and I look forward to more discussion on this topic.

  34. Jenne says:

    I’ve been pondering on the titles including the phrase Equal Partnership and the mental block I have with it is that its not very clear what partnership is being sought. I am very sensitive to connotation and context when it comes to titles. For example when creating a title for a non-profit organization supporting women who experienced traumatic childbirth, we started with the title Solace (an acronym for Support in Overcoming Labor and Childbearing Experiences) to which we added for Mothers to give in context. Even that is not enough because mothers can use solace in all sorts of situations so we had to ground it with the tagline “healing after traumatic childbirth.”

    Back to partnership and the title “Mormons for Equal Partnership” that connotes legal partnerships or business partnerships something very different than equality in marriage and church organization. Also I feel that leaving the word women out of the title does not truly communicate to the audience who it is trying to attract or who participates in the group. Also, even though I feel kind of intimidated by being called a “saint,” it is more correct to refer to ourselves as Latter-day Saints than Mormons.

    I’m somewhat thinking through my fingers at this point so with those thoughts in mind, this is what I would suggest on the lines of partnership and working to include men in the aims of such an organization:
    Latter-day Saints for Women as Equal Partners

    A last thought on that: what I do like about the phrase “equal partners” is that it comes right out of the Proclamation on the Family.

    But I will ask, is achieving equal partnership with husbands and church leaders the main goal of such an organization? What about other feminist aims?

    I’m continuing to hope to come up with a title that communicates the gospel basis for feminism, especially how so many people find inspiration in a feminist Jesus.

    It is true that I also for a very long time was turned off by the term feminist but just recently stopped fighting the label. I am a feminist and previously my conceptions were based off of stereotypes and particular, not inclusive branches of feminism. For those reasons, I do agree that it is probably a good idea to move away from feminist in the title of such a group.

  35. James says:

    Wish I had more time to comment and provide input, but it seems to me there are plenty of areas for improvement that wouldn’t put potential members of this group anywhere close to excommunication…

  36. Amzedelle says:

    Think outside of the Patriarchy?
    Are you seriously wanting members of the church to not partake of the Patriarchal order? Coming from Sealings in the temple.

    This is either apostate, or you don’t understand what you are talking about. Do your homework,
    Also, in response to Sister Beck’s talk.
    You should remember that has stewardship to receive revelation for the women of the Church.
    If you don’t like what she said, don’t write a letter and complain.
    Get down on your knees, repent and pray to understand what you don’t agree with.

  37. corktree says:

    I agree with Jenne’s last comment about whether or not equality in leadership (which invariably invokes thoughts of women and the priesthood) is something that should be alluded to in the title and whether that should be a primary aim of such a group to start out with. I have come a LONG way with my own acceptance of the possibility of women gaining what I think they are meant to have, but it took a LONG time and I don’t think there is in any way a large enough portion of women in the church to accept and support it at this time.

    If we’re focusing on growing a movement, the title needs to be very simple and soft so that women come to it and are energized by the feeling of doing something positive and then reach those conclusions on their own. They need to own the ideas.

    Sorry, I don’t have any better actual ideas for a title, but I’ll put my thinking cap on. Something tells me it either needs to have a great acronym, or needs to be as simple as “feminist” itself in brevity. I don’t know….

  38. mValiant says:

    Don’t let me keep you from getting on your knees and repenting as Amzedelle exhorts.

    But when you’re done, I wanted to say — I think there are different levels involved in enacting change.

    Individuals, groups, organizations, societies.

    I think as individuals we need to believe that oppressive or discriminatory practices are wrong or old-fashioned or whatever and NOT reflective of God or of our worth or our rights to access God or do God’s work.

    The organizational level I think is really complicated, but I LOVE the specific suggestions already given in these comments.

    The societal level actually makes me hopeful and it is what keeps me active in my professional life and my non-LDS circles. It is becoming more commonplace for women to be in charge, for men to experience having a female authority figure, etc. I think the more that happens outside of the church, the more that the church will have to reflect societal norms. I know that comment will piss a lot of people off, but I will point out the the revelations on blacks and the priesthood came after the civil rights movement, not before. You can make sense of that however you want (God needed us to be ready, etc) but the point is, as we become more egaltarian in our society, the church will be made up of people who have been exposed to women in power and they will be ready for change. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s God’s will. There was a call recently from some activitists outside of the church to end discriminatory practices against women in religion. That is a start.

    As individuals we can do a lot, and society will help a lot too. And thanks for the suggestions about the organizatioanl level from everyone, I will try those!

    Jessawhy, I’ll sign whatever you write, I think it is great.

  39. Kelly Ann says:

    Jessawhy, what an interesting discussion. You make me think a lot about that I can’t be so complacent. I am beginning to speak up in more and more settings. About the imbalance I see and what I do and do not believe. I know longer fear excommunication. I don’t think I am approaching anything so controversial but even I do, I guess I would consider it not to be of God.

    I’d love to see people get more engaged. Even if my fairly liberal ward, the bloggers I know are still relatively in the closet. I think the church would be an entirely different place if everyone spoke what they thought – both conservative and liberals.

  40. Naismith says:

    “I think any organization with the word “feminist” in it is probably going to have a very limited appeal to Mormon women and men.”

    Well, or to women and men generally. It makes sense to focus on what *YOU* want, and not bring in baggage from other philosophies.

    I get tired of seeing feminism as portrayed as superior. More enlightened, more intelligent, more egalitarian.

    It’s just different. A lot of us who are NOT feminists are already speaking up against mindless sexism, using quotes from women, etc. Feminism is not the opposite of sexism, it is one particular path.

    I used to be a feminist, and now I am more “enlightened”(your word, not what I would normally say) and choose not to so self-identify, because of all that baggage.

  41. Jessawhy says:

    So here’s my most recent idea.

    I’m trying to imagine how this movement would actually roll-out and Facebook seems like the best first step.

    So, maybe we create a group called
    Progressive Mormon Women’s Daydream (or Suggestions)

    Then we ask,
    “If it was up to you, what kind of changes would you like to see in your ward or stake? In the church?”

    “Some ideas from women in my ward . .
    -Changing tables in the men’s restroom
    -Outdoor play structures for children
    -(a few more like these then some weightier matters)
    -One from my RS PRes (here I’m adding ethos). “From age 8, we raise boys to be good scouts and we raise girls to be spiritual leaders. When they get married this becomes a problem. Perhaps we should examine more closely the benefits and drawbacks of the scouting program in the church.”

    or

    -“It would be nice if adult unmarried people were treated like people, not overgrown youth or an incomplete person without a spouse.” (this one ties in men)

    After the request for things you’d like to see changed we could move on to what we’re doing well.

    “Also, what great ideas have you tried in your ward that show how women’s perspectives are valued?

    -After I emailed my bishop, he began purposefully including quotes from women in his talks and makes sure there are women speaking in church each week.”

    This would put a postive spin on the question and address the perspective (like Naismith always brings) that not all churchs are backwards feminist-wise. We can look at what some units are doing well.

    On second thought, maybe this is better through Survey Monkey and perhaps we can get ZD and fMh to post it?

    Thoughts?

  42. suzann werner says:

    Jessawhy,

    Well, a title could be, VALUING WOMEN EQUALLY WITH MEN…….their history, their stories, their leadership, their voices, etc

  43. mraynes says:

    Naismith, you misread ECS. She didn’t say that feminism was more enlightened, she said she wished people would have a more enlightened understanding of the term “feminism”, one where they weren’t immediately threatened. Big difference. Feminists are interested in making the world a better place, just like you. Whether or not you claim the label feminist, perhaps you could be more charitable towards us, Naismith, and give us the benefit of the doubt that we don’t think we’re better than you.

  44. Stella says:

    Jessawhy, I often thought of a LDS Singles Manifesto when I was active in church. Much like Mormon Feminists, I felt that there were SO many single people in the church who were valuable, intelligent, and wise, and yet–they were kept from so many things, often isolated in wards and not given the same attention as families. Every time I tried to write things down, I couldn’t come up with any answers that stayed within the actual limits of the religion.

    I like this idea, but I don’t know if it can really happen within the current framework of the church. Sometimes I wonder if the words Mormon and Feminist can even go together without making me laugh at the incomprehensibleness of it all.

    But I am hopeful and I support your efforts, while I’ve had to distance myself from the establishment of the church, I still feel a kinship with all the women and hope against hope that things can be brought to light.

  45. Reese Dixon says:

    I’m behind you 100%. This just sounds thrilling.

    First of all, I think a discussion with Darius Gray or someone else at the Genesis Group would be enormously helpful.

    Then I think we need to decide if our priority is effectiveness in making changes, or in outreach to feminists of all stripes. Because as laudable as it is to want to include every feminist who defines herself as Mormon, we have to know that even hinting at the priesthood will get us nowhere with the average female member or with church leadership.

    I’ve been really impressed with the Mormon Women Project, and I could see something like that being the public face of the movement. Women telling stories of how inequities have actually affected them.

    But I also think that letters to general authorities are a must. We know they usually just get sent back, but if we send them they can’t claim that they don’t hear us complaining. I think they need to hear that statements like Elder Pace’s hurt us, and that we’re longing for further light and knowledge. Maybe if we do it as an organization it would provide enough cover to get over that fear we all feel from recent history.

  46. TopHat says:

    Threadjack for Reese:

    You say letters usually get sent back? Do you have personal experience with that? I sent a letter (well, a compilation of many letters from about 13 women) to the First Presidency a couple of months ago and haven’t heard anything. They haven’t been sent back, but to be honest, I have no way of knowing if the packet just got tossed by an intern in the Church Office Building, you know? Sigh. I hope they read our letters…

  47. Reese Dixon says:

    I don’t have any personal experience with that TopHat, but I’ve heard oodles and oodles of stories of letters getting sent back to the pertinent stake president.

    So somebody reads it, at least to see who signed it in order to send it to their local leaders.

    But I don’t know that’s policy or anything, just a commonly repeated anecdote.

  48. css says:

    I LOVE all these ideas and it makes me excited to be a part of this time in history. We really can make some phenomenal changes.

    I agree with many of these ideas and just want to add some practical suggestions that I think could work.

    1) I think that we should elect/choose a group of women willing to be an executive council. (This is crucial because there are so many tenets of feminism and what we all want from this group, that rogue groups, blog posts, and/or extreme ideas on either side could limit the number of participants. Covert action—Scarlet Pimpernel style– is often a better way at church, i.e. happily declaring this great GA quote about gender equality, rather than disparaging an absurd one.)

    2) I think the council should create a website like “What Women Know” (we could even call it that!) that basically gives a very palatable (heavily revised for inclusion of all types of people) mission statement that reads something like: “We are a group of women, men, grandmothers, friends, sisters, parents, etc who all love the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We love the church so much that we want to create a society whose primary purpose is to provide relief to those who struggle with feelings of hurt and disappointment because of a culture of gender inequality.” Etc.

    3) Through promulgation on all the many Mormon women’s blogs, facebook, etc. we could direct people to our website and send out a call for chapter presidents.

    4) Then we can start different chapters in different areas and have monthly “actings” (instead of meetings because we do something specific and active at each meeting) like drafting letters, issuing handouts, setting up classes or workshops, sending emails, recruiting, etc. The centralizing force will be that each month the chapter leaders will get their directives from the executive council on the website. Therefore, each month tons of independently gathered women will work on the same project—however little or big. For example, one idea I have for a meeting is to create little ribbons (like the pink breast cancer ribbons) and a business card statement of what we do, want, who we are, etc. (the color of the ribbon and the statement can be made and approved by the executive council and then put up on the website for everyone to print out). One Sunday everyone wears the ribbon on the same day and when people ask us what it stands for we give them a ribbon, a card, and an invitation to the next women’s meeting.

    5) On the website we can also have tabs for all the different ideas people came up with: A) Start a chapter in your area: How to be a chapter leader and get other women involved, rules and regulations. B) How to find the existing chapter in your area: local chapter blogs, meeting dates, locations, pictures, welcome, etc. C) Caroline’s menu structure or what are your main concerns: a list of some practical ways to make real changes in your ward, blessings, priesthood, visibility, etc. We can also have surveys on this page to determine the main concerns of our members, etc. D) Get more involved: Donate $, how to be part of the executive council, creative team, or publicity team, etc. E) Want more perspectives on Mormon women’s issues?: A blog and website list. F) A discussion group about last month’s meeting, ideas, suggestions, comments, feedback, etc.

    As our numbers increase, we can expand to do walk-a-thons, retreats, workshops, area meetings, fundraising, protests, chapter challenges for recruiting, ideas, $, etc. For example, my friend already has a great idea: we could make little booklets full of easy to flip to, tabbed, General Authority quotes that coincide with our mission statements about gender equality. We can make and sell these so that women have them handy each week at church to promulgate the ideas we want to spread! These are just a few suggestions, but I really think this can work!

  49. Syrena says:

    As a Utah Mormon living in a tiny town, where being different is akin to being wicked, I can’t even imagine the Mormon Church as anything but a hierarchical social club with single women at the bottom. Social roles and norms are strictly prescribed. Would Mormon feminism thrive here? I can hardly even imagine it existing. Kind, loving women gladly accept the role they are assigned and gush happily and reverently over Julie Beck’s talk. If uncomfortable feelings arise within their hearts, they are quickly shushed in a sincere effort to be obedient and faithful. I’m old and remember my enthusiasm for the ERA. I have often longed to be as content as my sisters. Your rightous discontent makes me smile, but it doesn’t make me hopeful.

  50. Interesting post. I’d suggest, though, that this movement already exists — it’s MWF, and FMH, and Exponent, and me, and clearly you, and many other people and organizations. Because this movement has existed for at least two generations, has largely used the tactics you discuss, and we haven’t yet built Zion, we may need to think differently. How about we use practices which are distinctly and indigenously Mormon? I’ll email you.

  51. Lacy says:

    I unfortunately have to agree with jddaughter way up in the comments: fear is such a hideous but truthful thing for me in all this. Which is probably why such a movement is so needed…

    Small victory to share: I wrote up a case for improving the womens’ nursing lounge in the stake center (literally: a door-less hole in the wall of the bathroom) and sent it with one of the high councilors (my FIL) to his meeting. They are now in the works to transform a classroom into a better nursing facility. As small as it is, it totally feels like my own sort of suffragette victory. 🙂

  52. Jenne says:

    CSS, I just want to say YES! To all your ideas. I think they are great and I’m excited to get going!

  53. Melanie says:

    I did my Masters thesis on the conservative, anti-feminist Utah Eagle Forum. I have always wondered why their strategies- well publicized through coverage in the Utah papers- haven’t taken hold in liberal circles. While certainly agitation for change in politics doesn’t translate perfectly to the church context, I think they offer some very useful ideas for mobilizing LDS women. For example-

    -A phone tree. The “5 call 5 call 5” system provides women with a dependable way to get information and know who to contact about an important issue. The UEF can generate 1000+ calls in a day through this strategy. We have the phone numbers of our bishops, Relief Society presidents, and stake presidents. What might happen if women used an incident- breastfeeding persecution, a mother of a blessed child rendered invisible, lack of changing tables in men’s restrooms- as an opportunity to open immediate dialogue with local leaders? Part of the genius of the phone tree is that it allows women to pass if they aren’t interested or concerned with a particular issue, and women (and men!) on the phone tree can enlist women and men off the phone tree to help. I would like to think that a stake president who has received 50 or 100 calls about a matter would respond, or at the very least bring those concerns to regional leaders.

    -Physical presence. The UEF is constantly at the Utah state legislature, talking to leaders, networking, coming up with ideas. At the local level, this might include women making appointments with leaders at varying levels to express concerns. It might involve chatting informally with leaders at ward/stake social events about issues. It might include being a voice in Relief Society lessons.

    -Make it look good. Over time the UEF has toned down the “hysterics” (the hysterical woman perception is an obvious burden when one is speaking out) a lot to adopt a more level, professional, yet still impassioned tone. Branding matters. A unified, positive tone is as important as Anthropologie birds (a suggestion I liked). The UEF found greater success when they started to feel like they could approach government representatives as equals. Confidence matched with concern, rather than anger, goes a long way.

    -A broad agenda. A feminist agenda is a multi-issue agenda. The UEF likes to celebrate the fact that they are a coalition that includes 2nd Amendment, anti-p*rn, homeschooling activists etc. They don’t purport to agree on everything. A cafeteria approach- we are people who agree on some of the above rather than all of the above, but are unified by a broad common goal- can boost numbers and make for a movement that mobilizes people through a wide range of common concerns.

    -A national network. The UEF is a chapter of a national organization. Through the national arm, they get and spread news about the successes of other Eagle Forum chapters’ lobbying efforts. They invite members from other states to speak at their conference about their victories. They have national conferences. Can you imagine the energy that could be harnessed through daily headlines- “25 women in stake called stake president about…” “Ward Relief Society adopts suggestion to do…”. I think some sort of a news mechanism (which obviously comes with maintenance costs) is essential to help women at the local level to feel apart of something bigger.

    I guess what I see with these strategies is that women are using existing networks to find their voices. While I think a movement online or outside the church is useful for different reasons, I think Mormon feminists (or women concerned about other women) would need to harness ways to use the hierarchy to effect change from within the Church, as members of the church (much as the UEF regard themselves primarily as citizens) rather than members of a particular organization. I believe whole-heartedly that it could work because I think it already does– but the UEF example perhaps provides some strategies the existing MFM might become a greater presence.

  54. Maggie says:

    Forgive me if any of this has been repeated…

    First off I love Caroline’s original post and the ‘big tent’ analogy.

    That being said I really don’t like the idea of getting rid of ‘feminist’. I understand it is for those who have an aversion to the word but IMO this movement is about gathering our strength and speaking with a booming voice so we can *finally* be heard and starting off by seeking to appease in the hopes that maybe we will be taken seriously isn’t sending the right message. Not only that but you know the ‘f’ word is going to be thrown at us to put us down if we hide from it “Oh that Mormon Women’s Group is nothing more than a bunch of feminists!”. So why hide from it? We’re feminists. Lets own that. Lets stand by it and stand firm. It’s not a dirty word, lets show them that.

    I am really loving this idea! But I admit I am not holding my breath to see any real change any time soon. Instead I am looking at this movement as carving out a place for us and basically saying “we’re here and we’re not alone!”

  55. Maggie says:

    Also, I think Melanie is right on.

  56. Here, Jessawhy, I wrote this one just for you. (Actually, I didn’t write it for you, but it might give an idea as to what an effective Mormon Feminist Movement, one that really equalizes the sexes, might actually look like.)

  57. Julie George says:

    I’m conducting a qualitative study on Mormon Feminists for my Master’s thesis. I’m pasting my flier below. I’m in the Salt Lake Valley today through Friday, so if you are interested in participating and live in this area please contact me right away. If you live elsewhere or can’t participate this week, please contact me anyway. We can make arrangements for a phone interview.

    Feminist and Mormon: Reconciling Ideals of Equality and a Culture of Patriarchy
    A Study of Mormon Feminists

    Do you identify as an active, believing Mormon woman, and as a feminist? Researchers at Oregon State University would like to hear from you.

    Dr. Susan Shaw, Director of Women Studies at Oregon State University, is the principle investigator in a study of women who identify as both active, believing Mormons and as feminists. The purpose of this study is to explore the ways women who identify as both feminist and as Mormon integrate feminist ideals of equality with patriarchal ideals of Mormonism. This study is being conducted by a student for the completion of a thesis. Up to 15 individuals will take part in this study.

    If you choose to participate, you will be given a written questionnaire with questions about your background, and then you will be interviewed. The interview will be transcribed and compared with the transcripts of other participants. Your questionnaire responses will also be compared with the questionnaire responses of other participants. Interviews will take place in person when possible, in your home or office, or in a study room of a library close to you. If distance is prohibitive, interviews can take place over the phone.

    The study activities include:

     A brief demographic questionnaire that will take about 10 minutes to complete
     A semi-structured individual interview about your experiences and understandings as a Mormon feminist that will take approximately 1 to 2 hours.
     Your interview will be audio recorded and transcribed.
     The researcher will compile your answers with answers from other participants and look for patterns.

    If interested please contact:

    Julie George
    georgeju@onid.orst.edu
    Oregon State University
    Women Studies Department
    200 Gilkey Hall
    Corvallis, Oregon 97331

  58. Blythe says:

    I love the idea of cohesion. One of the ways women are disadvantaged is that we are very competitive. If we gather together for a cause, we could be unstoppable.

  59. AKC says:

    If you want to change things like nursing room availability and change tables in the men’s rooms- that’s something you can bring up to your bishops and stakes, but if you want things like women holding the priesthood and being bishops than prayer is your best bet. This is God’s church and the basic principals are God’s. If you want them to change talk to Him about it.
    While your talking to the One who really runs this church, maybe ask him to help you understand what roles he has for the women of this church B/C if a woman truly understood the depth of her role in partnership with her husband and other leaders of the church- you couldn’t want more! I starting place might be the conference talk Pres Hinkley gave a few years ago- i think it was called “The Women in Our Lives.”

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