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.