Radical Mormon Feminist Manifesto

I really like the ideas that Caroline and others have recently proposed. Such feminist assertions are heartening, and are evidence of a growing activist consciousness that’s quite encouraging.

I’d like to take this one step further by posting this Radical Mormon Feminist Manifesto that’s I’ve been drafting with some fellow feminists. For now, I see this document as a work-in-progress. I hope that you will comment on whether or not you agree with its assertions, or you will suggest edits. It is my hope that this document can become a “proclamation” that will speak for many Mormon women who are invested in social change.

We are Radical Mormon Feminists. We are men and women, gay and straight, white and of color, of varying ages and abilities, from many nationalities and economic backgrounds. As such, we write this proclamation to assert our needs and our agenda for those oppressed by the church’s stand on issues of gender and sexuality.

We affirm that as the LDS Church moves into the 21st century, it can no longer ignore and reproduce the multiple oppressions of sexism, racism, and ableism that are endemic in its patriarchal hierarchy.

As such, we assert that we will no longer passively submit to secondary status within the church for ourselves or our friends and family who are members. We subscribe to the tenet that our “God is no respecter of persons,” and that God looks upon and understands the motives of our hearts as no leader – priesthood or otherwise – can. We embrace a Savior who reached out to all people regardless of their sexuality, gender, national origin, or ability; and commit to striving to reach out to all in the same way.

Additionally, we reject church teachings about the eternal nature of traditional gender roles and will not sustain official proclamations from the church leaders that reify such notions of women and men conforming to specific narrow roles such as submissive wives, full-time mothers, bread-winning fathers, traditional family members, head-of-household males, and priesthood-leading husbands. Instead, we sustain expansive acceptance of equal partnership between two adults in marriage; co-parenting by natural and adoptive parents; community support for single parents whether natural or adoptive; equal career encouragement and opportunities for both genders; and family teams that head households together in love and togetherness.

We believe that God ordains both men and women to have spiritual power for blessing, healing, and leading and desire women to be recognized in such roles. As radical Mormon feminists, we call for women and people of color to be included in all levels of leadership and where homosexual, intersexual, and transgendered people participate in full fellowship and temple ordinances.

While we affirm the free agency of each individual to make their own choices about Mormon belief and practice, as radical Mormon feminists we take a stand and assert our unwillingness to support patriarchy and the gendered hierarchy and oppression that results from it. We recognize the many righteous, well-meaning men who preside as faithful and loving leaders. We do not wish to remove them from their leadership roles. We only wish for the opportunity to join them as we work as one people to build the peaceful Zion community imagined and sought after by our ancestors. We do so with millennial fervor, calling for the day that all children of God are welcomed equally into the Mormon fold.

We acknowledge that large changes seldom happen overnight. We suggest the following as beginning steps to achieving the goals discussed above:

1) Call couples to serve in bishoprics together. Allow women to interview and hear the confessions of other women.
2) Jettison boy scouts and create the same youth programs for girls and boys.
3) Drop the “preside” language about marriage. Focus on co-equal partnerships.
4) Make priesthood ordinations optional and/or given as a young person desires it–sort of like a patriarchal blessing. Allow both girls and boys the same opportunities for ordination.
5) Let women learn their husbands’ new names at the temple veil.
6) Allow same-sex couples to be sealed in the temple, even when local laws don’t allow legal marriage.
7) Let women plan and speak at their own RS Conferences w/no men involved.
8) Allow women to preside over official meetings, such as sacrament meeting
9) Turn the focus from bishops making the callings to self-callings – let both men and women volunteer and seek out roles they are interested in (even if men want to be in primary or women want to be in leadership)

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