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Woman Writing a Letter by Kaigetsudō Doshin

Woman Writing a Letter
by Kaigetsudō Doshin

The Exponent has always been a safe place for new voices to share their thoughts about Mormonism and feminism. We have just added a new guest post submission form to make it even easier. Do you have something to say and you’re looking for a supportive, empathetic community to say it to?  Submit a guest post!  Guest posting is a great option if you like to write but don’t want the time commitment of maintaining your own blog, so submit a guest post! On the other hand, if you are actually looking for more of a long-term gig, the first step to becoming a permablogger at the Exponent  is to submit a guest post.  We are always looking for new people to join our ranks!

In celebration of our new guest post submission form, I am re-posting the story of how I became an Exponent permablogger.  Yes, I began by submitting a guest post back in 2011!


Finding My Voice was originally published in April 2012 here: http://www.the-exponent.com/finding-my-voice/

There was a point in my life when I started experiencing a great deal of religious angst.  I was desperate for an open environment where I could blab about all of my questions and concerns without someone interrupting to tell me that I would probably go to Hell.  Most of my more liberal friends lived far away and I felt like I was wearing out my poor husband, since he was my only sounding board left.  I was not at all interested in talking to a male authority figure, such as a bishop, because many of my concerns centered on religious patriarchy.

One day, I wrote a detailed essay at my personal blog about a religious issue that was bothering me. However, I didn’t dare to post it.  What if my family freaked out and thought I was a crazy apostate?  Still, the writing process had been soothing, so I started regularly journaling my concerns at my blog, always saving the products as drafts without posting them.

But just writing my thoughts wasn’t enough.  What I really needed was to talk to someone else about these things and get some feedback.

My ever supportive husband recognized my dilemma. One day, he came home from work and told me he had talked to a Mormon chaplain about me at the hospital where he worked and she—I cut him off.  “She?” I interrupted. “Mormon women can be chaplains?”  I had no idea.  What splendid news!

My husband had asked the chaplain where I might actually post one or two of these permanent draft blog posts.  She referred me to the Exponent II.

I found the website and sent in a guest post. Caroline received my post with kindness.  She posted it a few days later and sent me an email saying, “Send us more.”

So now my secret, potentially apostate thoughts were out there for the whole world to see.  I read the comments on my post and realized that my thoughts weren’t crazy—they weren’t even all that original!   Many other people had been thinking about the same thing for a long time.  I finally had the supportive, reassuring feedback I craved.

I felt better, but like an addict, I immediately wanted more. I sent another guest post.  Caroline had been encouraging, right?

When I sent my third guest post in, I added a little note, “Do you ever look for new permabloggers?”

Pretty presumptuous, huh?  Here I was, a nonintellectual Mormon without any particular religious advocacy experience, just inviting myself to join a blog populated by feminist Mormon superstars who had been advocating about religious issues for years.  I sat there with my finger on the keyboard for a while, daring myself to hit “send”  before I finally got up the nerve.

Another Mormon website, with an apparently large and more conservative following, linked to my final guest post.  By the end of the day, thousands of people had read my thoughts about the temple recommend interview, including many who left comments indicating their none-too-flattering opinion of me.  So, now there were countless scores of Mormons who considered me to be at best an idiot who couldn’t understand basic temple recommend questions or at worst an apostate who recklessly criticized sacred things through global media.

In spite of the criticism, I was surprised to realize that I was okay. I could take it. I was stronger than I had thought.  I had been terrified that someone would think I was an apostate. Now, many people did and I didn’t care because I didn’t believe them.  I was no apostate.  They were wrong.

You’ve heard the saying—negative attention is better than no attention. I never believed that saying before, but maybe it is true.  Being silent is hard.  Being heard feels so much better, even when others don’t always like what they are hearing.

For too long, I had no voice about religious issues.  Most Mormon women don’t.  There are precious few leadership positions for women and the women who get those are selected by men, perhaps because they tend to agree with men.  But I had finally found my voice.  And now I felt better.

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is an advocate, mother, professional, lover of the arts, hater (but doer) of housework and seeker of truth. Podcast: Religious Feminism Podcast Twitter: @aprilyoungb

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1 Response

  1. Jenny says:

    April, I loved reading the story about how you became a permablogger! Your feelings through the whole process were so similar to mine. I think it’s in our nature as humans, and especially as women to say, “Who am I to do that?” And to discount ourselves and say we’re not good enough. I think I do that to myself on a daily basis. I experienced those feelings a lot when I first started sending in guests posts and when you first mentioned the possibility of becoming a permablogger. I appreciate the vulnerability you shared in this story because it feels really close to home for me. And I especially love this too because I feel exactly the same way: “You’ve heard the saying—negative attention is better than no attention. I never believed that saying before, but maybe it is true. Being silent is hard. Being heard feels so much better, even when others don’t always like what they are hearing.” I hope those who read this post feel inspired to write guest posts, because you are good enough, and we want to hear your story.

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