"So What are YOU Doing to Help Women in the Church?"


This was the question I posed to my husband yesterday, as we were riding in the car on our way to grab some dinner.

Mike had been telling me about his ward clerk duties, how he needed to train a new membership clerk and how he’d be gone for a couple hours this evening to do so. Being ward clerk has turned out to be a pretty time-consuming calling. Not only is he gone from 8 AM to 3 or 4 PM on Sundays, but he has daily emails and tasks he needs to carry out.

Wanting to help him, but also irritated by the fact that women are not clerks, I suggested to Mike that he appoint me his assistant clerk. Mike quickly told me that he doesn’t have the power to appoint anyone. Clerk callings from the stake. So I agreeably suggested that he then talk to the bishop about it who could talk to the SP. Mike’s basic response was a laughing “No way.”

After some initial grumblings about the utter ridiculousness of women not being allowed to be clerks, I turned to Mike and said, “So what are you doing to help women in the Church, Mike? The only way things are going to get better for us is if men like you push the envelope a little.” Mike successfully dodged by saying that it’s wise to pick your battles.

Perhaps. But I really do think some battles need to be picked, if women are to ever have more expansive opportunities to serve and lead. Maybe suggesting the appointment of a woman as some kind of clerk isn’t worth it, but my question to Mike reverberated in my mind for the next few minutes. What was I doing to help women in the Church?

As we continued our ride to Soup Plantation, I became resolved to harrass someone with power into doing something good for women in our ward in the next couple of months.

Inspiration struck. March is women’s history month. We should have a sacrament meeting devoted to women’s history in the scriptures and/or early church.

I proposed my plan to Mike. After a few minutes of discussion (he didn’t know that March was women’s history month) he agreed that the women’s history sacrament meeting was a good idea, and that he would pitch it to the bishopric over email later that night. Mike asked me for suggestions of good women speakers on this subject, and I happily threw out some names.

I left this conversation with mixed feelings. I was excited and pleased that my husband took one of my suggestions seriously, and that there is a good chance that we might get a women’s history sacrament meeting next month. But I feel disempowered and depressed that I have to make my suggestions through my husband, and then wait for my male leaders’ approval, to get something like this to happen. I know very well that if I directly emailed my bishop about this, it would not have nearly the same weight as Mike suggesting it.

I can’t help but imagine a world where I, or my righteous female colleagues, could be in those bishopric meetings, making suggestions like this to a bishopric composed of both men and women. The very image is so poignant to me that as I sit here typing, tears are coming to my eyes.

But enough of that. To return to my titular question, I would love to hear some of your ideas of viable, reasonable things ordinary members can do to make life better for women in the Church.

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women’s Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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  1. Roger says:

    I do what I can to help the RS Presidaent in our ward. She is easily the most influencial leader in our ward – as they are in every ward. Easily at least 50% of all our leadership meetings are spent dealing with issues and solutions brought up by the RS President. It seems to me that you either have not been in many different wards, or have not really realized the leadership and influence the RS has in the daily workings of the church.

  2. TftCarrie says:

    Caroline,

    I don’t know what I have done in the past except for opening my big mouth when I don’t agree with something. But today, I thought your idea was so great that I suggested the same to the Relief Society Presidency so they could take the idea to the bishop. I am in a new ward, so I have no idea how it will go.

  3. Lizzilu says:

    Well I thopught it was such a great idea that I too suggested it to the other councillor in RS (I’m in the RS) and will be approaching it this eving with the President. I say approaching it because the councillor got all uncomfortable and said well, oh, uhuh and had a lot of apprehension in her voice. She said “well in march we already are going to have the anniversery dinner and that will be about the history of the women in the church”
    then she was silent again. I suggested it wouldn’t be too terrible if we had 2 occasions in 1 month and only 1 would be including the whole ward on the subject”.
    Roger I think the RS is important, and has some input but you haven’t been in the RS presidency to know how it is to have to have a priesthood holder approach a subject for you because it would probably be more positively received.

  4. AmyB says:

    I’m doing nothing to help women at church, sad to say. But I’m hopeful that by contributing to this blog I’m doing a little something for women in the church. The feminist blogs have helped me come to terms with some things, and have helped me connect in my own way with other women outside the purview of the heirarchy. Not feeling alone helps me tremendously.

    Roger, I’m curious what it means to you that the RS Pres is the most influential leader in the ward. I never percieved her as such in any of my Utah or East Coast wards. And in every ward I’ve ever been in, women only attend one out of four leadership meetings in a month. That is a small percentage of the time in which women can voice their ideas and concerns, and even then it’s not guarunteed they will actually be listened to. The men have ultimate veto power over any idea the RS Pres may have.

  5. John Remy says:

    I’m doing what I can (from the sidelines) by raising awareness that women are equal to men in the Church, and that both men and women should care about this. It bothers me that so many good, compassionate, fair-minded men in the Church cannot or will not concern themselves with this.

    Roger, the RS pres doesn’t hear confessions, sit on courts, doesn’t okay or direct priesthood activities, have the final say on the leaders in the ward (including her own counselors), and doesn’t have control over the sacrament meeting agendas, and doesn’t sit up on the stand as the visible leader of the ward.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Women as clerks? Women in SS presidency? Men in Primary presidency?

  7. Roger says:

    “Roger, the RS pres doesn’t hear confessions, sit on courts, doesn’t okay or direct priesthood activities, have the final say on the leaders in the ward (including her own counselors), and doesn’t have control over the sacrament meeting agendas, and doesn’t sit up on the stand as the visible leader of the ward.”

    I never mentioned any of these things, and of course I know all this very well. I didnt say she was the most visable or most recognized. I said she was the most influential. The RS pres is most likely the most thankless job in the Church also. It seems to me that everyone here is after more recognition of leadership rather than opportunity to serve and help the ward.

  8. Lizzilu says:

    “It seems to me that everyone here is after more recognition of leadership rather than opportunity to serve and help the ward.”
    Roger, are you saying that the men, the priesthood holders are only after “recognition of leadership” and not interested in serving and helping in the ward?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Roger: so what are you doing specifically to help the RS President? Do you babysit for her or bring over meals to her family when she has late-night meetings? Or what??

    Back to the original question: what are you doing to increase gender equity in your ward?

  10. John Remy says:

    Roger, I can assure you that I am not after more recognition. I resent my having the priesthood because women cannot exercise it or hold priesthood offices, and ultimately have to answer to men.

    Caroline may be able to attest that our leaving the Church in protest has improved the situation for women in her ward. Hopefully that’s helped a bit. 🙂

  11. Caroline says:

    Thanks for all your comments!

    Roger, I would say that the RS president is one of the top 5 most powerful people in the ward. Definitely bishop is most important, IMO. Like Amy said, in my ward, at least, the RS president only attends 1 and a half of the four big meetings that take place before church every Sunday. And I think that for a person to be the most influential in the ward, they would have to be contributing to these meeings in which vital issues are being discussed. Not to mention, of course, that the RS pres has little real decision making power, as the bishop can override her at anytime.

    And as for people on this blog wanting recognition rather than to serve, I would have to disagree with that. I simply want all women to have the same opportunities to serve as men. And I think it’s inescapable that service is often correllated with recognition. Just curious: Do you think that people like the bishop and his counselors are seeking a recognition of leadership more than an opportunity to serve?

  12. Caroline says:

    Carrie and Lizzilu, that’s awesome! I hope something comes of your suggestion.

    Amyb, I think you’re definitely doing something for women in the church by being an X2 blogger. Mike and I have often discussed how opportunities to be influential within the church are very limited for women. So turning to non-sponsored groups (like this blog) is one of the few ways women can get their ideas out and begin important conversations.

    John, you’re awesome. One of the most thoughtful feminists I know. And I think your leaving did make the bishop take extra special care to be nice to people like me. I’m afraid it’s beginning to wear off, however. Mike tells me that March is apparently all booked up, and that the bish is unlikely to bump someone so that we can do our women’s history meeting. Bummer.

    Anonymous, those callings you mentioned are absolutely areas where it would so easy for women to be included, as they don’t require priesthood. And I think it would be great if men were in the primary presidency.

  13. EmilyS says:

    Caroline,

    I just wanted to say that I love this idea, and I think I’ll see what I can accomplish in my ward as well (which is probably not much as my bish is…not very amenable…ahem). Thanks for the great idea!

    As for what I personally am doing, I’d have to echo AmyB on the subject. I hope my participation on the blogs means something to at least some of the women of the church, and when I have been a teacher in the past I have tried to be very conscienscious (sp?) about what is said and how it’s presented…but I’m really just not sure what I _can_ do otherwise….

  14. Janna says:

    Firstly, I love this conversation. Like Caroline, I want to cry (with joy!) when I envision a structure that bases the distribution of service opportunities on skills, talents, and gifts rather than on the distribution of x and y chromosomes. Secondly, and forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before, I have found Carol Lynn Pearson’s “A Walk in Pink Mocassins” essay a wonderful tool in helping men understand the current position of women in the church.

  15. maria says:

    I’m going to send my husband (the bish) the link to this post. Maybe I’ll ask him for a women’s sacrament meeting in March for my Valentine’s present. 🙂

    We actually discuss this general topic all the time–he’s never willing to do anything “major,” but he always says if I can come up with something a little more low-key he’d be open to it. Like you, though, I sometimes resent the fact that I have to vet my ideas through him in the first place…but I guess we have to start somewhere.

  16. Matt Evans says:

    The Relief Society president is expected at every important ward meeting except Bishopric meeting. She is expected to be at the monthly Ward Council, and at PEC.

    There certainly are wards where the RS President is more influential than the bishop. Sure, no one in the church has the final say on what they do. Everyone has someone who can overrule their decisions. The fact is, however, that most of the time Stake Presidents don’t overrule Bishops,Bishops don’t overrule RS Presidents, and RS Presidents don’t overrule RS Teachers.

    People who are annoyed that there will always be someone above them in the church heirarchy will never be happy until they swallow their pride and learn their place. This is a kingdom, not a democracy, and we are fortunate to serve at the pleasure of the king.

    It’s worthwhile to ponder why God has a kingdom and not a democracy.

  17. Lizzilu says:

    Janna,
    Where can I find the “Carol Lynn Pearson” essay? I searched it and was unable to find it.

  18. AmyB says:

    Matt, I’m impressed that the RS Pres attends Priesthood Executive Comittee in your ward. That’s not been the case in any of my units.

  19. Janna says:

    Okay, one more time (the link doesn’t seem to be posting!)

    http://www.sunstoneonline.com/magazine/issues/137/
    137-21-25.pdf

  20. rinlee says:

    I’ve suggested to our RS Pres that she ask the Bishopric to tell the Elders in my BYU ward not to hint that the RS sisters should be making them food. Comments like, “We’re going to be having a potluck on Saturday, and we want good food–so, sisters?” kind of get on my nerves, especially when they’re coming from over the pulpit.

  21. JohnR says:

    Janna, that is one of my favorite essays. My Jana ran me through a similar mental exercise years ago, and that helped me start thinking more like a feminist.

    Caroline, thanks. I’m sorry that the March thing isn’t going to work out.

    I guess we can only leave so many times…:P

  22. amelia says:

    apparently the very premise of this question doesn’t bother anyone else who has read it.

    but before i continue along that line, let me make a bit of a caveat. i am a feminist and have identified as such for a very long time. i recognize and understand the power structures and apparent/real inequities that inspire caroline’s question. she and i have actually discussed this issue at length on numerous occasions. i think there are many, many small things that could and should change in how the church operates–even without structural changes–that would create more gender equity in the church.

    but it disturbs me to read this question. i am a woman in the church. and i’m very sorry, but i don’t need help to improve my status. i have never–not even briefly–felt less than equal to any man i have met at church (or elsewhere for that matter). at least not based on my gender, even if i sometimes feel stupid or incompetent or helpless due to circumstances or my own inabilities. but those inequities are due to differences between individuals, not differences of sex.

    i find it a little insulting to women to suggest that they need something to be done to help them. in some ways this attitude simply reinforces the condescending attitudes towards women fostered by patriarchal power structures.

    semi-rant over.

    with all of that as a caveat (or a double caveat, if you will): what am i doing? i am being myself. i am speaking up. i do not hide the intelligence and understanding and compassion that god has given me. i teach lessons and give talks. i volunteer to serve. i build community with my fellow saints.

    and how does that help women in the church? it helps by undercutting some of the damaging stereotypes about women that our culture fosters. i think the very best thing we can do–as women and for women–is to live to our fullest potential as individuals and build a godly community.

    and what of the obvious discrepancy between the genders in institutional power? well, i think it’s unfortunate. and i think that it’s wrong. in the abstract. but it is what it is and i have no doubt that it will change in god’s time. and i am willing to wait for god’s time. because in my own time i have every assurance i need of my merit independent of my sex and independent of what role i fill.

    maybe that sounds like i’m skirting the issue. i do not mean to. i have suffered sometimes serious emotional and psychological distress partially because of the gendered teachings of the church. and i do not want anyone to suffer in that way. and i will do everything in my power to make sure that the women and girls (and men and boys) i can influence will not suffer in those ways. but that assurance i mentioned above remains.

  23. Caroline says:

    Amy, I understand where you are coming from. But perhaps we fundamentally disagree that women are disadvantaged by the current church structure?

    I’m certain we agree that certain important roles and opportunities to serve are denied to women, but perhaps you don’t find that as disempowering as I do. So when I ask the question “what are you doing to help women in the church” I mean in the sense of help women to find more and better ways to serve, as well as more ways to see themselves reflected and represented as important thinkers and contributors, given a current patriarchal structure. Does that make any sense?

    Anyway, Amy, I know that you may not like the phrase ‘help women in the church’ but I think that’s just what you do. Because you tell it like it is, and raise your hand, and talk to your Stake pres, and teach thoughtful lessons, etc. You show your brains and your competence and don’t back down, and I think that gives the LDS women around you a really valuable female model.

  24. Caroline says:

    Maria, I’m thrilled you’re showing this post to your husband. And as for practical things a given bishop can do to help women, here’s a list I emailed to my bishop a while back.

    (Forgive me for its length)

    call a woman to be Sunday School president. There is a major dearth of women in leadership positions. Let’s show confidence in women by making them leaders whenever possible.

    encourage all teachers to make an effort to quote from women in lessons. This may mean going outside the manual a bit and dipping into Chieko Okazaki and Sherri Dew, but so long as the quote supports the objective of the lesson, let the teachers know that this is acceptable. Afterall, we all know that maleness and preisthood is not a prerequisite to having deeply meaningful spiritual insights that all can benefit from hearing.

    Have the Relief Society President attend every single meeting in which plans for the ward, callings, welfare, etc. are discussed. This includes bishopric and certainly PEC meetings. The bishopric could only benefit from having a woman weigh in on subjects like Sacrament Meeting topics, callings, etc.

    Another option besides having the Relief Society President attend all these meetings would be to call a woman as an assistant clerk. This female assistant clerk would be invited to come to all the bishopric meetings, thereby giving a much needed female’s perspective to discussions.

    Invite the Relief Society President and her counselors to sit up on the stand in Sacrament meeting every Sunday. Thereby creating a visual picture that women and men are equally valued in this church.

    Lay off the rhetoric about how much more spiritual women are and that’s why they don’t need the priesthood.

    Likewise lay off rhetoric about motherhood being the equivalent of priesthood. Admit that there is no plausible justification about why women don’t have the priesthood, just like there was no plausible justification about why blacks didn’t have it. Admit that no one knows why women don’t have the priesthood.

    Let women know that they may bring another woman in with them when they have appointments to speak to the bishop. For women who have been raped, abused, etc. it could be very threatening to be alone in an office with a man they don’t know well.

    Make sure women and men alternate for closing and opening prayers. Also make sure women are the anchor speakers sometimes.

    Likewise, because there are some Sundays which we hear exclusively from men (High Council Sunday) be sure there are a few Sundays in which women are the only speakers. This balance of male and female speakers would communicate a message that men’s and women’s thoughts and spiritual insights are equally important.

    Call more men to primary, thereby promoting the truth that both genders are equally capable of nurturing children. Reality is that many kids are without father figures, and it would be a huge benefit to interact more with men in church.

    In Young Women’s encourage leaders to make a conscious effort to acknowledge the many different lives women will lead. Acknowledge that not all the young women will marry and have kids. Several will not marry, several will marry and get divorced, and several will marry and need to work. In all of these situations it is imperative that the girls are prepared for a career.

    Encourage several career nights for the young women throughout the year.

    Let young women know that their spiritual growth is just as important as the young men’s spiritual growth. Encourage activities that support this spiritual growth.

    Call couples to have co-equal joint callings. For instance, there could easily be a Ward Mission Leader Couple

    be flexible when women want to hold the baby during private baby blessings in the home.

    2/08/2007 09:21:00 PM

  25. Caroline says:

    Matt, in our ward the RS does NOT attend PEC. I think she should. But she doesn’t.

    And Matt, this isn’t an issue about hierarchy. It’s about women and men not having equal opportunities to be in that hierarchy, and therefore equal opportunities to serve, grow, and enrich the lives of others.

  26. Caroline says:

    Thanks, Janna, for bringing up the Pink Mocassins essay. It’s fantastic.

    And thanks to everyone else who has contributed. I’d love to respond to each and every one of you, but I’m leaving tomorrow at 5 AM to go up north to a Latin convention with 120 high school kids. Yikes! Must go pack.

  27. Lizzilu says:

    Janna,
    thank you! The link wouldn’t work but it was no problem to find mag. 137 at Sunstone. I’m going to keep a copy in my binder.

  28. edo says:

    Maybe my college bishop was a renegade, but he called a woman as an Assistant Ward Membership Clerk back in the early 90’s. Of course this was in Berkeley… 🙂

    I (a man) have long felt that there are a lot of callings that traditionally are held by men that I think women could and should be given. Although there are some true “priesthood” callings, many, if not most, callings are priesthood-neutral in execution (e.g., clerk callings), even if they are under the ultimate supervision of the Bishopric or other supervising priesthood authority. We can really miss out if we adhere too closely to cultural norms that aren’t rooted in formal doctrine or policy.

    True story: my dad was a mission president in Europe in the early/mid 1990s, and on one occasion he felt impressed to call a particular Sister Missionary (ironically, a college friend of mine) as a District Leader because he felt inspired to do so and because “she was the best one for the job.” Although that is traditionally a post held by one of the Elders, my dad (a very conservative, by-the-book Mormon) couldn’t find any rule, regulation, or formal instruction barring it, so he went with his inspiration and made Sis. Taylor District Leader. According to him, she did a fantastic job.

  29. Lizzilu says:

    Edo I love your Dad.

    Well after meeting for training with my stake councillor (ed. councillor in RS) last night I have a little hope for my ward. She said whenever she can she will always use quotes etc from women in her lessons/talks and encouraged me to do the same if I wanted to. She is stake pres wife so hopefully they share the same (atleast some) views.

  30. maria says:

    So I sent my husband the link and we are having a women-focused sacrament meeting in March. The only catch is that I have to be one of the three speakers. 🙂

    I’m thinking I might want to talk about the General RS Presidents of the church. Probably not all of them, but maybe a few of the “highlights.” Does anyone know of any good resources online I could use to research more about these women’s lives?

    I also showed him your list of other suggestions. He already does many of these things…and he was open to several of the other ideas he/I hadn’t thought of.

    Also, FYI, the RS president in our ward attends PEC and all the other Sunday meetings except Bishopric meeting. The ward could NOT function without her (and not just because of her charitable attitude, tireless work ethic, etc., but also because of her perceptive ideas and unique understanding of different issues). I can’t tell you how many times my husband has come home from a meeting saying “Sister I. is AMAZING! We couldn’t do it without her!”

    I realize it’s probably not like that everywhere…but at least that’s how our ward works.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I attended a very prominent Divinity School and one of the classes was on Women and Christianity. As the token and first Mormon woman at the school, they’d often ask me why women didn’t hold the priesthood. I said that we are the individuals who direct the men exercise it righteously.

    Men who hold the Priesthood cannot use it for their own gain. However, they can use it to lighten/ease the burdens of those around them. If they’re blessed to have association with a righteous woman, they bless the lives of those around them. I never felt at a loss for not having the Priesthood. I do try to enlarge the vision of the men around me who can be aids in the lives of many around them. I guess I do feel that some women have a very close association with God and are instruments in the use of the Priesthood power.

  32. Anonymous says:

    “I was excited and pleased that my husband took one of my suggestions seriously . . . “

    Doesn’t he usually take your suggestions seriously?

  33. jana says:

    Anonymous~
    You wrote:
    “Men who hold the Priesthood cannot use it for their own gain.”
    I think you need to quality that statement. I could give you several examples of incidences where men used their priesthood for their own gain and also to oppress others.

    You also said:
    “I guess I do feel that some women have a very close association with God and are instruments in the use of the Priesthood power.”

    I’m curious who these women are that you feel are instruments of the Priesthood? Are they just random examples of exemplary women? If so, why do you think they have access to the priesthood and most women do not?

  34. Ann says:

    I thought this was SUCH a great idea that I e-mailed the bishop, who forwarded the e-mail to the councilor who’s doing March topics. We will probably be having at least one talk in March about a faithful woman in Mormon history.

    Thanks for sharing this great idea.

  35. Matt Evans says:

    Amy and Caroline,

    Never in my adulthood have I lived in a ward where the RS president didn’t attend PEC.

    this isn’t an issue about hierarchy. It’s about women and men not having equal opportunities to be in that hierarchy, and therefore equal opportunities to serve, grow, and enrich the lives of others.

    Caroline, first, there are opportunities at every level of the hierarchy to serve, grow and bless. More importantly, there are infinite opportunities to serve, grow and bless *outside* the hierarchy, and women far exceed men in these opportunities to serve, grow and bless. Women are more likely to help others, less likely to watch others work, more likely to offer assistance, more likely to know the problems of their friends, more likely to speak to their friends about problems, etc. (I could post my whole Sociology of Gender textbook here, but you get the point.

    Because women more naturally solicit and respond to opportunities to help, and have the primary relationship with their children, the church hierarchy is an excellent way to domesticate men and get them to serve their communities. The church’s patriarchal structure helps correct society’s pre-existing gender imbalance for service and community engagement. I believe this is the reason every church with female leadership is in decline — they weakened their communities when they stopped correcting the natural gender imbalance.

  36. Caroline says:

    I’m so encouraged to hear that so many of you have talked to your leaders about a woman-centered talk next month. Yeah!

    Matt, I also thought it was common for RS pres’s to attend PEC. But it doesn’t happen in my ward. A shame since we have nearly 600 people in our ward, and I would think that the RS pres would be an asset in such a meeting.

    And as for your comments about hierarchy, I agree that everyone has opportunities to serve within the hierarchy. But surely you would agree that there’s a substantive difference in the kind of service a bishop does and the kind of service done by the woman who distributes our hymn books in RS. And my beef is that women don’t have as many opportunities to substantively serve as are available to men. And in particular they don’t have as many opportunities to serve in ways that show young people that women are just as capable, strong, spiritual, and charismatic as are men. Perhaps that’s one of the things that worries me the most – the inadvertant messages we send out to our members about men and women, when it is only men that are quoted in talks and lessons, and only men that direct and lead wards, stakes, and the church entire.

    As for the old argument that women don’t have priesthood because they are naturally good and don’t need it, as opposed to the buffoonish men who do need it, I have a hard time buying it. It’s hard for me to believe in a god that would developmentally handicap half his children (men), a handicap that could only be remedied through a priesthood that less than .1 percent of the world’s population can take advantage of.

    Also, I am suspicious of broad sweeping gender stereotypes. I tend to think that women can be just as selfish as men, so the whole correction theory doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

    I’m not saying that serving in the church doesn’t help men (and women) become less selfish and develop admirable traits, but I see no reason why women shouldn’t have the same opportunities to become less selfish and develop the same admirable traits.

    Matt, while I disagree with your take on this, I appreciate your input. Thanks for your comments.

  37. Caroline says:

    Maria,
    I’m excited for you! I would love to give a talk on this topic. If I were to focus on just a couple, I would focus on Emma Smith and Emmeline B. Wells.

    Emma Smith is remarkable. A woman of huge generosity and character, though I know lots of LDS are uncomfortable that she didn’t come out to Utah with BY. One of my favorite anecdotes about her occurs many years after Joseph died.

    Her 2nd husband Bidamon cheats on Emma and impregnates a poor widow living down the road. Emma, knowing about this, and having compassion for this woman who has borne her husband’s love child, hires her to help in the house because she is so desperately poor. And when Emma is on her deathbed, she tells her husband to make things right and marry that other woman. What a generous and amazing person. If you are really interested in getting to know Emma better, you should read the fabulous biography “Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith”.

    Emmeline B. Wells was likewise remarkable. A strong advocate of women’s rights, editor of the Women’s Exponent, etc. She was also a plural wife and deeply lonely and hurt by her husband’s neglect of her. The book, Woman of Covenant, a history of Relief Society, would be helpful.
    Here’s a link that has a blurb about her that might be useful.

    http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/w/WELLS,EMMELINE.html

    If you’re interested in getting more info, email the xblog and I may be able to send you more info, as I have a gospel library CD-rom with tons of articles in it.

  38. EmilyS says:

    Caroline –

    I hope you don’t mind, but I took your idea and ran with it–or I’m trying to get others to run with it if they like.

    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=1003

    Thanks for a wonderful idea!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Is this for real? I am going to be a lone voice here, I have served in many leadership roles in the church and never have I felt undervalued, or not taken seriously, or in any way inferior.I may not have served as SS President, nor would I want to. My only goal as I accept any calling is to serve whom the Lord has asked me to serve. Just because I can’t serve as the Bishop or as his councilor, Has never meant that as a President of an Auxillary he has never asked my opinion and followed through. It may not be obvious to everyone but let me tell you this is NOT a MALE run Church. I love my sisters in the Church, you are all my extended family, and I love the way we take care of each other, and I just don’t understand that because we aren’t clerks(which the Bishop spends a fair amount of alone time with, and can understand why women aren’t clerks in that sense,& not because of our inability) Or any other “male” calling we deem ourselves as percieved being less than.

    Bring on the Angry Mail!!!

    Susan J.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Oh sorry, you were asking what am I doing to help women in the church?

    Well I strongly believe that as We live the Gospel, We are serving one another. And not exclusive to just other church members, but also serving out side of the Church. So I feel I help Women by serving, sometimes that may include Childcare, some times driving to doctors apointments, sometimes that means feeding the hungry,sometimes that means listening to someone in need.
    We all have wonderful gifts to give, share and to serve our fellow human beings, So stop for a moment, and rember those you have served today, and those that have served you. I am sure the list is long!!

    Susan J.

  41. Caroline says:

    Susan J,
    I can and do respect that you are happy with your place in the church. I would hope that you could also try to respect those of us who yearn for more expansive opportunities to serve our brothers and sisters.

    I think we will just have to agree to disagree about your statement that this is not a male run church. It is, in my opinion. When all GA’s, apostles, and presidents are male, and they are the ones deciding policy, doctrine, and programs, with no responsibility at all to even pass these ideas by women, I’d say that males are running the church. I would agree that on a local (ward) level, women do have more opportunities to contribute. Though certainly not as many as men.

    BTW, my husband is a clerk and spends very little (almost no) time alone with the bishop. I suppose this may vary from ward to ward.

    EmilyS, you are awesome! Thanks for mentioning this on FMH.

  42. Wes says:

    I don’t know any of the bishops in my ward who sought after or wanted the job. I sure don’t want it. If I were asked to be the bishop, my first response will probably be “have you considered Sister Johnson?”. I have so many things to do that I barely have enough time to eat and sleep. I love to read on the LDS blogs because I feel a special cultural tie to those who comment here and it’s my only real outlet from the trials of daily life. But I get terribly frustrated at the almost endless posts about why women can’t be bishops. If I were the Prophet I would have given in a long time ago just to get a break from it all.

  43. Caroline says:

    Wes,
    If you were a black man, and it was pre-1978, do you think you would be bothered by the priesthood ban? Do you think you might have wanted to talk about it with others who had similar questions? just wondering.

  44. Wes says:

    Caroline,

    I don’t know why blacks were not allowed the priesthood. My guess is it was a cultural issue, not a worthiness issue. I don’t know why God choose President Kimball to change that part of church policy. And I don’t know which Prophet if any will be choosen to change the policy of the priesthood concerning women. All I know is I don’t like women speaking of the priesthood issue as though they are oppressed. Perhaps it is not fair. That’s for God to say. Either way, women are not oppressed over the priesthood issue. But I am so tired of many of them saying they are that if I were in charge I would grant them the priesthood just to change the subject.

  45. AmyB says:

    Wes,

    It’s hard to know how to respond to you. Your comments suggest that you percieve us as a bunch of whiny women whose concerns are completely illegitimate. Like you, I find some blogs in the bloggernacle discuss issues with which I disagree or even that drive me nuts. My personal solution is to stop reading them rather than telling them they shouldn’t talk about those things in their own space.

    My concerns are very real, deeply felt, and VALID. I am not simply a complainer when I speak out against what I know is wrong. I am a strong, intelligent, worthwhile human being who wants to be engaged fully as an equal.

  46. Wes says:

    “I am not simply a complainer when I speak out against what I know is wrong.”

    First of all AmyB, I do not have any problem with women holding the priesthood. But I would like to challenge the statement that I quoted above. We have no way of knowing at this time what exactly is right or wrong on this issue. I suppose God will inform us all when He is ready. If He says “The priesthood shall go to all worthy, male or female”. I will go along with that. If He says “The priesthood shall go to all worthy males; females shall have rights to the priesthood through their husbands”. I will go along with that. But I believe many of the women are so convinced of what they “know” is “wrong” that they would continue this blog even if God Himself were to put an end to this issue (that is, if His answer was not the one they were looking for).

    I addition, this is not the first time that I have stated that I am okay with women holding the priesthood. And it is not the first time that all of you have said everything said in this blog. It’s more like the hundreth time. Hence I refer to the statement I made before. If I were the Prophet I would have granted the priesthood to women long ago just to change the subject.

  47. Wes says:

    This all reminds me of Peter and the other Apostles arguing over who would be greatest in the Kingdom of God. I think god should give the Priesthood to all male and female Ducks and put an end to this senselessness. Not that I think women holding the priesthood is senseless, but I think continued fretting and talking and blogging and arguing and writing letters to GAs and everyting else going on is senseless. What is the difference between this and what Peter and the other Apostles were doing? I have lost the blessings of the church before in my life. I have lost the priesthood. I learned after coming back into the church that Christ’s Atonement was the most glorious thing I had ever felt. And I remember telling God that I didn’t care where I stood in His kingdom so long as He would forgive me and allow me to live with Him. If He wants to give you my priesthood, fine. I just want to be with my Father in Heaven and my Savior.

    I would also like some other disscussions on the blog to stimulate my mind. I’m not sure if I’ll get that one or not.

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