The Exponent Blog Ten Year Retrospective Series Begins

A decade ago, The Exponent blog was launched. To commemorate this event, we are starting a new series. Every fourth Saturday in 2016, the blog will feature posts from blog founders and permas reflecting on our experiences with The Exponent, as well as posts highlighting important pieces that have appeared on the blog.

Today, I tell my story of the inception of the blog.

It all began in the most stereotypically Mormon way imaginable: visiting teaching.

I had recently moved to Irvine and was thrilled to find myself the visiting teacher of Jana Remy. She and I bonded over our feminist proclivities, and on one of our first visits, she handed me a stack of her mom’s Exponent IIs. I was entranced, and with Jana’s help, I threw myself into the organization, offering to edit with Jana a Southern California issue of the paper and then offering to start, alongside Jana, Emily Clyde Curtis, Deborah Kris, and others, a blog for Exponent II. The year was 2005, and we felt strongly that a blog would help connect the organization to a new generation of younger Mormon feminist women who were discovering the world of online Mormon forums.  Since the blog would be unfettered by geographical boundaries and available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, I saw it as having the potential of drawing in Mormon feminists from around the country looking for a forum to discuss their questions and experiences. The blog could also be the means of introducing Mormon women who had never heard of The Women’s Exponent or the Exponent II publication to this important legacy and tradition of Mormon feminism.

The blog launched in January of 2006, and has thrived since then, featuring several new posts a week. While blog posts cannot compare to the carefully curated, edited, and lengthier essays in the magazine, the blog medium does offer some advantages. I love the immediacy of blogs which can respond to, highlight, and host discussions of important evens within hours of the events themselves.  I’ve also always loved the democratic feeling of blogs, where authors can write their experiences and questions, and commenters from around the world can agree or disagree and share their own thoughts in turn. This democratic spirit, this hierarchy-bending forum in which readers become authors and authors become readers, this forum for real discussion and sharing, has personally fed my soul and inspired me throughout the years.

For many of us, the real boon of blogging for the Exponent has been the relationships we have developed with other bloggers and commenters. Through the blog, online associations have become real-life, life-changing friendships, and at times when I might have felt utterly alone in my questions or pain, I have had the blog and blogging friends to turn to for support and advice. I’ll never forget the day when I didn’t know whether I should move forward with holding my baby in Sacrament Meeting for his baby blessing, given my bishop’s strong advice that I not do it. Feeling discouraged, I turned to my blog friends for advice, and within an hour I had twenty messages telling me to move forward,  to think of what I would wish I had done when I look back on my life, and to push past my fear and hold my child. With their support, I gathered up my courage and did so. This is one very important thing the blog and Exponent II has given me and others– beloved friends who are there to make us strong when we are weak and discouraged.

Ultimately, the Exponent blog has been life-changing for me. When I’m feeling down about the church, it means everything to me to know that I can find refuge, honesty, vulnerability and thoughtful analysis of Mormon gender issues on the blog. The road of Mormon feminism is not always a comfortable or easy one, but the benefits — most of which I’ve experienced through this blog – are tremendous. I cherish this forum, and I cherish the people who come to it to share their lives, wisdom and insight with me. May we continue on for (at least) another ten years.

Caroline

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

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10 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    I love this, Caroline! It’s so interesting to hear about how y’all started. I totally agree with all your points about blogging. I love the immediacy and the accessibility and the discussion, and most of all, like you said, the friendships that I’ve developed. I look forward to more of this retrospective. I have *loved* so many wonderful posts you all have written in the past decade. Happy anniversary, and here’s to more decades of excellent Mormon feminist blogging!

  2. Thank you so much for starting the blog! I found it five years after it began and it has been an important part of my life ever since.

    • Caroline says:

      April, we’d be much the worse if you hadn’t found it and contacted us. It was meant to be! Thanks so much for all the work you have done for this blog.

  3. Em says:

    I’m excited to learn about our roots too! I found the blog (as so many do) though needing help teaching Relief Society. I also liked the feminist tone — a place to share honest pain, but it didn’t feel hostile. I could be faithful AND feminist, and yet also share the burdens of those who felt they couldn’t stay anymore. Then I got invited to write something! Yay!

    My friendships with the other bloggers has been the best part though. I feel like you’re all my secret posse — when my husband asks who I’m writing to and I mention one of you he says “who? I’ve never met her?” — yep! Another secret blog pal! It makes me feel less alone.

    • Caroline says:

      So glad you found us through the lessons. Doing those lessons (Deborah’s idea) was genius. And I too feel like I have a powerful posse of Mofem friends through this forum. I love it.

  4. Heather says:

    This is awesome. What a blessing that you guys decided to do this. I’m sure it was not easy but so many of us have benefited. You’ve helped revitalize an organization that desperately needed youngification. (I’m making up words)

    • Caroline says:

      Thanks, Heather! I’m glad it’s worked out as well as it has. I love that we’re a part of the amazing Exponent II organization.

  5. Amy says:

    I love your words, Caroline. I was so grateful to find the Exponent blog a few years ago when I first started having questions and diacomfort about my place in the church. It was a safe place to explore and understand new ideas without feeling that I had to give up my Mormon-Ness. Now as a contributor, I am touched by the lives of my fellow Exponent sisters every day. I hope that all people will be as lucky as I have been in finding friendship, fellowship and safety.

  6. EmilyCC says:

    I love this post! Remember when we weren’t sure if we could keep this up for a year, then two, then three?! The community and friendships that I have from this blog are among my most cherished blessings.

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