A Sermon for International Women’s Day

Several months ago I was asked to give a talk in my ward’s Sacrament Meeting in celebration of International Women’s Day. The following is the text of that talk.

Introduction

Several years ago I was at a park with my children. There was nothing particularly interesting about this park except for two older boys at one corner play-fighting. I don’t like my children to watch or engage in violent behavior so I tried to keep their attention on the other side of the park. But we kept hearing their taunts: ” I have the power.” “Ha Ha, I just took your power.” “You can’t take it because I’m invincible.” “I have your power, I have your power.” “No. I have THE POWER.”

Sylvia became more and more distracted by their exchange and before I could stop her, she marched over to the two boys. She stared at them intently and then proclaimed, “Now I have the Power.” She snatched at the air in front of their faces as if, in this one single gesture, all of their power and the power of the universe would instantly transfer to her. The look on the boys’ faces was priceless because, at least momentarily, three-year old Sylvie had taken the power.

I was shocked–where did this assuredness and sense of entitlement to a theoretical power come from? We tend to be uncomfortable with women claiming power but as far as I can tell there is no doctrinal justification for this, in fact, just to the contrary. So after the shock, I was delighted and so proud that this spirited little girl is my daughter. Sylvia was and is in that beautiful time before the forces of the world try to convince her that she is smaller than she actually is. Right now she has absolute confidence in her place in the world. Since this experience I have often wondered how I can help Sylvie retain this confidence, or at least prolong it. The results of those musings are the genesis for this talk.

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Exponent Classics: Something About Learned Women

Something About Learned Womenby Lucy M. Hewlings,
First published in The Women’s Exponent, vol. 7 no. 17
February 1, 1879

The question has been asked, “Was there ever a time when there were no learned women?” To this query we reply, No! never since the creation of Eve, our first mother, down to the present, when the cause of women’s social and political rights has become a distinct national question; we admit there has been an unusual intellectual activity for the last twenty years, both in Europe and America, and that there has been advancement and progress in this respect within the last decade, but we are apt to felicitate ourselves, and perhaps are too indiscriminate on the progress achieved in female education.

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Random thoughts on Pioneer Day

Patty Bartlett Session’s Cross Stitch Sampler

I was sitting in a Women and Music class at BYU when the most preposterous statement I have ever heard about pioneers was made. We were discussing Mormon music when a fellow classmate argued that those without “pioneer stock” could not truly sing Come, Come Ye Saints like somebody with pioneer ancestry can.

“Just like a white woman can’t sing Summertime like a black woman can.” she argued

My response: ummmm…what?

I think there is a fundamental difference in experience here that makes this argument specious at best but every July 24th I find myself wondering if there is some psychic wound that those with pioneer heritage carry with them.

I wouldn’t know about this as I am the offspring of two converts to the church. While I always enjoyed the Pioneer Day celebrations that my midwestern wards put on and the pioneer bonnets were in constant rotation when I played dress-ups as a girl, I never felt personally connected to the pioneers.

Until I had children. mr. mraynes comes from a rather prominent pioneer family and knowing the above story, he joked that bearing pioneer stock allowed me to tap into that psychic wound and appropriately sing Come, Come Ye Saints. Once again, I doubt the veracity of this wry observation. But I do feel strangely connected Patty Bartlett Sessions, who would be my children’s great great great great great-grandmother. Indeed, I feel her presence and her grit and determination in my own daughter. Though I am a little apathetic about pioneers in general, I like to take a moment on this day to honor this grandmother and the other pioneers who make my children who they are.

So what say you? Do you share a strong connection with the pioneers, whether in your ancestry or not? How do you feel about Pioneer Day?

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Argument For…

In part two of our “Argument Against/For” day (first installment here), I wanted to share the Argument for women’s suffrage, prepared by H. G. Cattell, an assemblyman in the 67th California district in 1911. Like this morning’s post, the 1911 argument is on the left and the altered one about women and the priesthood is on the right, with the paragraphs lined up so you can compare them. And again, you can tell it was written a century ago. I found the arguments for/against suffrage to be fascinating. I hope you enjoy it!

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Argument Against…

In 1911, the state of California was in heated debate about granting suffrage for women. I recently came across one of the arguments against granting women suffrage, written by Sentator J. B. Sanford of the Democratic Caucus. Reading through it, I thought it would be fun to change some of the words. Below, I’ve included the full text of the 1911 argument on the left and an edited version about the ordination of women in the Church on the right. I’ve blocked the paragraphs together for easy comparison. The language is a little awkward and archaic, but so is the argument. Enjoy.

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