The New Mormon Feminism

Mormon feminism has had a big year.  After being pronounced all but dead, it has been thrilling to see this renaissance take place in such a short period of time. The year started with the rebirth of the feminist literary tradition; the Our Visions, Our Voices tour put on by the Mormon Women Writers was amazing. And, of course, Exponent II magazine is back with a bang. Then there was the Patheos and UK Guardian articles written by fMh’s Reese Dixon, proudly proselytizing our cause.

I am not alone in recognizing a groundswell in the movement. The same publication that asked only six years ago where all the Mormon feminists had gone now declares that Mormon feminism is back. One of the most exciting developments has been the creation of the Mormon feminist activist organization, Women Advocating for Voice and Equality (WAVE).

This organization seeks to put action to all of the words, hope and pain that have been shared over the years by Mormon feminists on and off the internet. On our newly redesigned website there is a place to share your experience as an LDS woman, participate in social justice causes worldwide, access words of wisdom by LDS women to include in your lessons and talks, a resource and support section to answer questions about feminism in general and Mormon feminism specifically. Each month there will be a call to action, an opportunity to participate in something that will improve the experience Mormon women and men have in the church. This month’s action is a call for quotes by and about women for an LDS Women’s Quote Book.

There are some who believe that this new Mormon feminism will fail. They are wrong. Mormon feminism has already won. Despite the very public beating feminism took twenty years ago, the fruits of our foremothers’ labor can be seen every week at church. Women can give talks and prayers, they are invited to council meetings, changing tables are available in both women’s and men’s restrooms, Heavenly Mother’s name can be invoked without an automatic discipline meeting with the bishop.

There is absolutely more to be done and this time around it isn’t just a small number of intellectuals in Salt Lake City talking about women’s issues at Sunstone. It’s the young women of the Save the WRI movement, it’s Claudia Bushman and her Mormon Women’s Experience project, it’s WAVE, it’s the bloggers and commenters at Exponent, fMh and Zelophehad’s Daughters. The new Mormon feminism includes faithful women all over the world, of all ages and life situations, gathering on the internet, going to retreats and conferences and then going forth into their wards and branches and being the change they so desperately want.

Undoubtedly there will be some who throw about the old and tired accusation of apostasy. I can say from experience that nothing is further from the truth. When we first created WAVE, all of us had powerful personal revelation, a message from God that spurred us to action. Those of us who are participating in this movement are not out to destroy the church, rather we seek to strengthen it by aiding in the church’s retention of women. We love our daughters and know that they deserve so much more than crumbs from the table. All that we desire are the good gifts that Christ promised God has for all of Their children. With a desire like this, the new Mormon feminism cannot fail.

Mraynes

Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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12 Responses

  1. Corktree says:

    The quote book idea is wonderful! I wish I had quotes to contribute ( I wouldn’t even know where to look), but I’m one of the people that could definitely use a resource like that. And I love the idea of using it for the Mother’s Day handout at church. What a great way to celebrate and encourage all women. I’ll be suggesting it for sure.

    I also think the “Ask a Feminist” feature is smart. I hope it gets a lot of use and helps us to overcome definition problems and gain more support from women who otherwise would help greatly with the cause.

    I’m excited by all the changes that seem to be happening, and I look forward to being more involved and sharing my thoughts with others more confidently as we move forward. Thanks to everyone who has been working on the WAVE project and on all the publications. Great job!

  2. Deborah says:

    This post made my day.

    Just submitted nine pages of quotes! Corktree, if you just want to feel uplifted and inspired, go to lds.org and search for “Cheiko Okazaki” and read some of her conference talks. I love “Baskets and Bottles” and “Rowing Your Boat” and “Strength in the Savior.” Better yet, here are the links:

    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=a71f3ff73058b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=46627cf34f40c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=94db425e0848b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

  3. Corktree says:

    Thanks Deborah. Is the idea that we submit the types of quotes from talks and such that we would want to see included? As a way to get consensus and narrow it down? I guess I just figured that it would be a no brainer to look up quotes by women, but wasn’t really sure of the goal of everyone sending in the same stuff. I think I get it now. I’ll do some reading around and see if I can come up with something. It would be great to contribute.

  4. Shelly says:

    I know what the feminist movement is, but I’m not familiar with “mormon feminism.” What change does the movement “so desperately want”?

  5. Jessawhy says:

    Deborah,
    Thanks for sending pages of quotes!

    Corktree (or anyone interested in helping with the quotes project)
    You can search the LDS database, or you can find a book you like and read through it for good quotes.

    We’re looking for
    1. Quotes by women on any church topic. We so often quote men during our RS lessons but it would be great to have women’s quotes as well.

    2. Quotes by men and women regarding gender equality.

    Shelly,
    The basic answer is our mission to advocate for gender equality in the LDS church.
    You can read more about Mormon feminism on WAVE here.
    http://www.ldswave.org/?cat=5

    There are also a lot of posts in Exponent archives that will help explain the basics of Mormon feminism.
    A recent post (written by my husband) ended with some very succinct explanations of Mormon feminist angst from Kiskilili. One of her comments is here.
    http://www.the-exponent.com/2010/08/10/a-husbands-perspective-on-mormon-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-26036

  6. Mraynes says:

    Thanks for the comments!

    Deborah, you’re amazing. I’m so glad you contributed quotes to the project. Thoughtful women like you are the ones who are really going to make the difference here!

    Thanks for your willingness to help, Corktree! And thank you for your kind words, we’ve worked really hard to make this organization a reality this summer.

    Hi, Shelly! I’m so glad you commented. I just wanted to add to Jessawhy’s excellent recommendations by explaining a little bit about Mormon feminism. You are right, there is a broad feminist movement that began in the 1960’s. This movement was concerned with gender inequality in American society and actively fought for things like the ERA, tougher laws on sexual assault and sexual harassment. They were largely successful at eradicating the some of the most egregious inequalities in our society. Around the same time, groups of feminists from different cultures in America started talking about the unique challenges they faced and started developing specific brands of feminism to fit their cultures. Many religious women started consciousness raising movements to increase equality in their patriarchal religions; both Catholic and Muslim religions have an active feminist movement within them. The links Jessawhy provided should give you more specifics about the history and ideology behind Mormon feminism. Does that help? Let us know if you have more questions and we can point you in the right direction.

  7. EmilyCC says:

    This is such a lovely succinct post highlighting the most recent resurgence of Mormon feminism. This post will be so handy to pass out to people who wonder what has been going on lately.

    Initially, I found this resurgence alternately exhilarating and terrifying. As we continue to go forward, I find myself still cautious, remembering what has happened to the giants, whose shoulders we stand on, but I am more and more hopeful.

  8. Jared T. says:

    And to add to the list, don’t forget the new blog Scholaristas, co-founded by former JI blogger Elizabeth. Though not exclusively Mormon themed, it does and will often discuss Mormon themes.

  9. mraynes says:

    Thanks, Jared! They did a great series on Dialogue’s Pink Issue, one of the seminal Mormon feminist documents.

  10. Amy says:

    I posted this same comment on another website earlier today in response to a radio program highlighting the comeback of Mormon feminism. I am searching for clarity because I question using labels (ie Mormon feminist…) in order to qualify membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Why use such labels unless you want to set yourself apart? If that is the purpose, then it creates division amongst women of faith, and implies that such labels equal enlightenment. I believe the label has a certain elitist connotation that insinuates inferiority or quaintness of mind and spirit amongst those who would not designate themselves as such. Ironically, it belittles women by creating status within the sacred bonds of womanhood. Why can’t we take a stand on womens issues, and live what we believe without affiliating ourselves with a label that limits our sphere of influence and clouds issues behind a worldly cloak of societies expectations. Why not publish our feelings under our own name? Why congregate with a stereotype that overshadows our own independence? My name and identity is not the footnote to a collective blog. I am Amy. I came to earth as a daughter of God, and I have since chosen to take upon myself the name of Christ and His cause. If we truly live the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can become saviors on Mount Zion and no other label is necessary.

  11. Lord Of Elitists says:

    Is letting gays into the military any different than letting post mortal chronically insane people in?

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