Why YOU should write for Exponent II
The Summer edition of Exponent II is now available online and paper copies will be mailed in all their glossy goodness next week! The current issue touches on a wonderful variety of themes, from Chelsea Sheilds Strayer’s essay on how a seemingly simple phrase like “we are all children of God” isn’t always so simple in other cultures, to how a richer understanding of the Word of Wisdom helped one writer work through an eating disorder, this issue is jam-packed with stories and ideas that you’ll have a hard time letting go of.
Now we need your voice to continue the conversation. Read Aimee Hickman’s editorial letter below to hear why your essays and artwork are so essential as well as find information for how to submit your own writing for upcoming publications.
Recently I found myself standing in near darkness, my head and shoulders buried in the aluminum cavern of an HVAC duct, listening anxiously for other voices. I was participating in the final thesis show of my friend, Ginny Huo, a sculptural art student who just received her master’s degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art, here in Baltimore. Her art installation consisted of a network of bright yellow HVAC ducts suspended from the ceiling with openings for participants and a stack of random messages on index cards. The concept was an artful game of “telephone” in which one person chooses a phrase from the stack of cards and then enters the HVAC to whisper the message to an unseen person in the compartment beside her, and so on . . .
It sounds straightforward enough, but as I found myself standing in the darkness, unable to see any of the other participants, I suddenly felt uneasy and vulnerable. I didn’t have any sense of who would be taking part or whether they would actually join the act and not just stare at my headless torso. Even more unsettling was the difficulty I had differentiating the sounds of people speaking outside the HVAC from the voices inside the installation. Which conversation should I tune into? Though there was nothing at stake (for me) in this experimental performance art, my fear of failing, of being the broken link in the chain, was real, and my sense of isolation in this communal experience felt simultaneously surprising and familiar.
As an editor and writer, thinking about how Exponent II is situated within a much larger conversation about the lived experience of Mormon women is almost all-consuming. The conversation has always been unwieldy, but the dizzyingly democratic blogosphere and podcast-sphere have had an effect on my thinking similar to my moment in the air duct. With the conversation amplified by the addition of so many voices, it can be hard to find the thread, the message we need to pass along to each other and those to come. What are the big questions Mormon women should be asking? What circumstances are we facing that really should be addressed? As a Mormon feminist, should I be placing more emphasis on the “Mormon” or the “feminist”? Does being a Mormon feminist mean I simply support all women’s choices, or does it mean demanding that women have as many options to choose from as their male counterparts?
Returning to Exponent II’s original mission—“to provide a forum for Mormon women to share their life experiences in an atmosphere of trust and acceptance”—I find some solace in the fact that just by sharing our stories with each other, we are continuing to expand the definition of Mormon womanhood. In this edition alone, we hear from women who have lived a wide variety of Mormon lives—from a woman exploring the painful dissolution of her temple marriage, to Heather Sundahl’s reflections on how reading Harry Potter with her children opened important gospel discussions, to a woman finding her way back to the Church after being excommunicated for adultery, to Natalie Prado and Deja Earley’s very different takes on being single in the Church—one message comes through the din with perfect clarity: there are many legitimate paths to being an authentic Mormon woman and every one of them needs to be incorporated into the discussion.
There’s nothing our editorial staff looks forward to more than when Exponent II becomes the vehicle for new voices. Although it can be daunting to situate our stories in an ancient conversation about the purpose of women’s lives, Emily and I hope our readers and writers will continue to pass along the essential ideas Mormon women have gleaned from their lived experience and believe our link in the chain of conversation will be made stronger for it.
During the thesis show, when it was finally my turn to receive and pass along the message, I was surprised at how my voice quavered nervously as the words passed from my lips into the darkness. By the echo my voice left behind, I realized I had spoken too loudly, with far too much seriousness in my tone. The delivery was flawed, but as I stood on my tiptoes to hear if the person in the next compartment would repeat the phrase, I couldn’t restrain a little smile. Hearing the phrase repeated after me, I was satisfied—though the words were in someone else’s voice now, I felt glad knowing the message was intact.
Aimee Hickman, June 2011
Please add your voice to the conversation!
We are excited to announce that the wonderful women over at Feminist Mormon Housewives will be guest editing the Fall 2011 issue of Exponent II. Visit their website for information on where to send writing and art submissions for their consideration by July 27th.
We will be reviewing submissions for the Winter 2011 issue of Exponent II in September. Submissions should be emailed to editor AT exponentii DOT org no later than September 15th and should include your name and contact information. We look forward to hearing from you!