Who Are We Missing

“You want to know what my real charge to people is? My real charge to people is look around and see who’s missing. And try to invite that person…Look around. Who’s not here? So there’s all this, like, I’m sad that this is this way. OK. What is the one thing you could do to fix it? Go do that thing. Just go do that thing, you know?” ~Michel Martin, On Being Interview

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to canvas my neighborhood on behalf of the Mark Udall campaign. Udall is a Democratic senator in the state of Colorado and is currently in an impossibly tight race to keep his seat. As I think his opponent is a nightmare, I was happy to try and help where I could. I also had the luxury of a free Saturday and a partner at home that could watch our children while I participated in the American democracy.

There was nothing particularly eventful about my time as a canvasser. I mostly adorned my neighbors’ doors with those flyers that most of us immediately put in the trash recycling bin. A few days later, however, I received a phone call from one of the campaign field organizers asking if I could volunteer another Saturday. This time, however, my circumstances had changed. mr. mraynes began teaching an all-day Saturday class and I no longer had anybody to watch my children. I explained this to the staffer and then was treated to a lengthy lecture about women like me who were not doing enough to help Mark Udall win re-election and that I needed to get my priorities straight.

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We Are Putting Our Eggs in the Wrong Basket

In the wake of Kate Kelly’s excommunication a lot has been said about the proper way to do things, the proper way to ask questions, the proper way to advocate for change. As someone who is interested in making changes regarding gender in the Mormon church my ears perk up at these suggestions–I would love to know the most effective way to see progress.

The most concrete suggestion has been to seek for changes on a local level. I don’t think this is a bad idea, there are so many little things that can be done in our local congregations that would make women’s experience in church much better.

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Virtual Oases

(We are resurrecting our popular feature “Virtual Oases,” which Deborah did such a great job with for so many years. Now Violadiva has volunteered to collect the best of the web for Mormon feminists over the last week or two. Please feel free to share your own links to outstanding posts or articles in the comment section below.)

 

Given the recent media avalanche about women’s issues in the LDS church, and the Ordain Women movement in particular, we combed through the coverage and brought you some posts and articles worth reading.
  • An impressive summary of what’s transpired between Kate Kelly, her local leaders, and the Church PR department, with some helpful historical context and tons of imbedded links to follow for more details. He doesn’t mention the statement from the First Presidency, so you may want to check out Peggy’s article for that missing chapter.
  • Peggy Fletcher Stack has written extensively about recent events, and gathered many quotes from the women involved. Here is a piece about what more “Moderate Feminists” want to see happening in the church. And another about other feminists facing church discipline.
  • Rather than speaking through the church PR representatives this time, The First Presidency released a letter about priesthood and apostasy.  And here’s a thought-provoking response from Casey, (with attention to point 4).
  • Three statements we (and our daughters!) can use to challenge sexism and “mansplaining.”
  • Mormon modesty rhetoric gone horribly wrong: college age Mormons and sexual violence. 
  •  Rounding out the list with some excellent alternative literary forms: a poignant parable, a prayer, a poem, and ascreenplay.
Violadiva is an oxymoron, a musician, Suzuki violin teacher, baker of sourdough breads, proud Mormon feminist and mother of two. Browse her late-night blogging tidbits at starvingmusicians.blogspot.com

 

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Guest Post: The Future of Mormon Feminism

DSC_0023 - Copy (2)by Aimee Hickman

This past Saturday night, I was delighted to speak alongside one of my idols, Claudia Bushman, at the Exponent II 40th Anniversary Speakers Series outside of Washington, DC. I was asked to speak on the future of Mormon feminism and what follows is an abbreviated version of my remarks. I would be very glad to hear from Exponent readers about what the future of Mormon feminism looks like to you. I hope you’ll leave a comment below.

In the Winter 2014 issue of Exponent II, Helen Claire Sievers contributed an essay titled “What Mormon Women Have Lost in My Lifetime.” Reflecting on her 70 years as a Church-member, Helen Claire catalogued the opportunities Mormon women experienced pre-correlation that she argues have diminished over time. Here are just a few of her examples: an expansive international Relief Society General Board which provided more opportunities for direct access to Church leadership; control over assets, money and travel; direct access between the General Relief Society Presidency and First Presidency; control over the content of Relief Society, Young Women’s and Primary manuals; innovation and experimentation with Primary, Youth and Relief Society organizations; the Relief Society Magazine and more.

Though nostalgia may leave a rose-colored tinge (freedom from fundraising, in particular seems like a valuable gain earned through correlation), the losses Helen Claire outlines have come as shocking revelations to two generations of post-correlation Mormon women who have never heard of or experienced the dynamism and ambition of pre-correlated women’s work in the Church. In our correspondence as we edited her essay, Helen Claire noted that she “tell[s] people I missed the entire women’s movement because it was so exciting to work in the Church back then.” This statement made me gasp in front of my computer screen.

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