Y me dolió (And it hurt me)

Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Journeys | 15 comments

By Anya Tinajero Vega
Co-founder of Mormonas Feministas. Convert of 19 years. Inquisitor, eternal student and daughter and granddaughter of exceptional women. To question is to live.  (English translation included below the Spanish text.)

Por Anya Tinajero Vega
Co-fundadora del Grupo Mormonas Feministas. Conversa a los 19 años. Preguntona, eterna estudiante e hija y nieta de mujeres excepcionales. Cuestionar es vivir.

¿Alguna vez se han preguntado cuántas veces ejercieron violencia (de todos tipos) hacia otra mujer (sin importar la edad) en la iglesia? ¿Cuántas veces vimos mal a una hermana por no llevar falda los domingos o por no querer aprender a cocinar/coser/bordar?

Esta vez quiero hablar de mí, de cómo es que después de años me encuentro escribiendo esto, de cómo desperté. Hablo de un “despertar” o de un “hasta que duele”. Me explico, yo hasta hace unos meses no me definía como feminista, tenía esa visión que predomina: que eran unas locas exageradas, odia hombres (seguramente lesbianas), amargadas, etc. Entonces un día me tocó y me dolió.

Por cosas del trabajo conocí a una organización que promueve los derechos sexuales y reproductivos de las mujeres, me hice su amiga y empecé a aprender sobre el tema. Pasaron algunos meses, hasta que la mamá de una amiga de la iglesia fue brutalmente golpeada. Entonces me enfrenté cara a cara con la violencia hacia la mujer. Lo más triste fue que cuando pedimos ayuda en la iglesia existieron muchos comentarios, pero el que más recuerdo fue: “pues es que ella estaba haciendo cosas no muy correctas, es su consecuencia”. Eso, lo dijo una mujer. No pude más que bajar la cabeza, sentir tristeza y coraje.

Pero bien dicen que hasta que no te duele (A TI). Hasta que llega tu turno. En ese entonces servía como presidenta de mujeres jóvenes de barrio, fuimos a un campamento y una de las chicas se lastimó el pie. Como yo no podía tomar decisión  de enviar a la chica a su casa y llevarla al doctor (ya saben, hay que consultarlo al sacerdocio) lo consulté con mi “líder de sacerdocio próximo” y su respuesta fue: “es que en el coche del hermano X ya no hay lugar para regresar a la ciudad, yo era el último que cabía”. Mi quijada se cayó de la impresión y de la impotencia. Entonces, le dije que tenía que tomar una decisión, que por eso había venido, para apoyarnos. Y bueno, hicieron que el obispo viniera por la chica para llevarla a su casa. El resultado: una fisura en el tobillo.  El otro resultado inesperado: un intento de “llamada de atención” por parte de mi obispo al domingo siguiente. Me citó en su oficina, me senté frente a él y entonces empezó la “plática”. Como siempre, empezó agradeciendo mi servicio PERO con algunas observaciones. Yo tendría que aprender a ser más paciente, porque el hermano encargado estaba muy cansado, tenía problemas con su esposa y no había dormido mucho. Es por eso que él tenía que regresar a la ciudad y no podía anteponer sus problemas por atender una fisura en el tobillo. Lo seguí escuchando, pacientemente mientras me decía que debía comprender la situación del hermano, que su trabajo era muy duro, que su esposa…Entonces no pude, existía algo en mi cabeza que no podía entenderlo. Y mi boca se abrió y dijo: “obispo, ¿usted sabe en qué trabajo? No, ¿verdad? Pues yo trabajo por horas, tengo 3 días preparando el campamento, entonces no he trabajado ni ganado nada. En la mañana del campamento yo cargué las cajas de la comida sola y tengo algunos años de operada y no puedo cargar cosas muy pesadas. No me quejo, pero siento como que me está diciendo que el trabajo del hermano (y sus problemas) son más importantes que los míos y aún peor, que el tobillo fisurado de la chica”. Su cara fue de sorpresa, a lo que contestó: “no claro, no quiero decir eso”. Pero ya lo había dicho. Puedo sinceramente decir que ese día sentí como una parte de mi corazón se rompía, NUNCA un poseedor del sacerdocio me había hecho sentir tan mal. Ni en los horrendos bailes de adultos solteros. Me dolió. Mi cabeza no podía procesar el hecho de que un siervo del Señor me hubiera dicho eso. No creo que Jesús me hubiera dicho eso, no niego la falta de paciencia, pero no. El Señor enseñaba con amor y sin distinción.

A partir de ese día sentía que cargaba un gran peso, no lograba entender lo que estaba pasando. Otras cosas ocurrieron que me hicieron pensar, preguntar, orar. Procedí entonces a hacer lo que se me ha enseñado: leer y preguntar. Me encontré con un libro de Joanna Brooks, mientras lo leía casi siempre lloraba. La venda de mis ojos se había caído. En mi iglesia, a la que amo tan profundamente, se hacía un trato desigual por sexos. Me descubrí feminista.

Y mientras camino este sendero me arrepiento de muchas cosas que hice. De cómo a veces repliqué la violencia simbólica hacia mis hermanas y hermanos. De las veces que olvidé ser cristiana antes de ser “perfecta”. Me sentía sola mientras encontraba esa verdad, pero me topé con hermanas (y hermanos) que piensan lo mismo que yo y comparten el dolor que se siente enfrentarse a la realidad.

Recuerdo que cuando conocí a Joanna, después de platicarle lo que me había pasado mientras lloraba, me preguntó que si con lo que yo sentía podría seguir activa en la iglesia. Le dije que estaba tratando. Nunca había entendido a la gente que se va y deja el evangelio, es dejar una parte del corazón encerrada. Ahora lo entiendo.

Sigo en ese sendero de encontrar la respuesta, pero algo que me enseñó mi abuela fue a luchar por lo que se quiere y se cree. Actualmente formo parte del movimiento feminista de la iglesia en México. Compartimos el dolor de sabernos violentadas, el amor de conocer el evangelio de Cristo y la esperanza de que la iglesia pueda ser un refugio para todas y todos, no  importando nada. También compartimos el miedo a ser juzgadas por nuestros hermanos y hermanas, por nuestros líderes, por nuestras familias. Tememos a las represalias eclesiásticas. Vamos paso a paso, orando a Nuestros Padres, confiando en Su amor y en el amor de Cristo, sabiendo que nos sonríen desde donde están.

Queremos ser parte de la iglesia de Cristo, de gozar de Su evangelio. Pero no estamos dispuestas a soportar la violencia hacia nosotras, hacia nuestras hermanas ni a nuestros hermanos. Creo, que al luchar por nuestros ideales buscamos ser parte de una iglesia incluyente, que predique y obre amor. Estoy preocupada por las y los que se van del evangelio, es triste que nuestros líderes no entiendan que esto se trata de retener miembros en la iglesia, no de alejarlos. Quiero ser parte, quiero ser feliz y eso incluye sentirme en paz.

English Translation

Have you ever wondered how many times you have exerted violence (of all types) to another woman (regardless of age) in the church? How many times you have looked down on a sister for not wearing a skirt on Sundays or for not wanting to learn to cook/sew/embroider?

I want to talk about how I came to write this, how after years, I woke up. I speak of an awakening that doesn’t happen until it hurts you. To explain myself, until a few months ago I did not identify myself as a feminist;  I had the prevalent view: that they were crazy exaggerators, they hated men (they were probably lesbians), they were embittered, etc.. Then one day something happened to me and hurt me.

Through work I am familiar with an organization that promotes women’s sexual and reproductive rights.  I started supporting it and learning about these issues. A few months later, the mother of a friend from church was brutally beaten and I was confronted face to face with violence against women. The saddest thing was that when we asked for help at church there were many comments, but the one I remember most was, “She was not doing the right things. This is her consequence.” This was said by a woman. I could do nothing more than bow my head, feeling sad and angry.

But you don’t awaken until it hurts you. Until it is your turn. My turn came when I served as ward young women president and one of the girls hurt her foot at camp. Since I could not make the decision to send the girl home and take her to the doctor (you know, you must check with the priesthood) I checked with my local priesthood leader and his response was, “There is no room in the car returning to town.  I am going back and I’ve got the last seat.”

My jaw dropped as I recognized my powerlessness. I then told him he had to make a decision.  He had come to support us. Well, they made ​​the bishop come pick up the girl and take her home. The result: a broken ankle.

Another unexpected result: an attempted “wake up call” from my bishop the following Sunday. He called me into his office, I sat across from him and he began a lecture. As always, he began by thanking me for my service but he had some observations. I would have to learn to be more patient, because the brother in charge was very tired, had trouble with his wife and had not slept much. That’s why he had to return to the city and could not put a broken ankle ahead of his own problems. I kept listening patiently as he said I should understand the situation of this brother, that his work was very hard, his wife…If I couldn’t understand that, there was something wrong with me.

I opened my mouth and said, “Bishop, do you know that I have a job? No, you don’t? Well I work long hours and I have taken three days off for camp, so I have not been able to work or earn anything those days. On the morning of camp, I loaded boxes of food alone even though I should not carry heavy things because I had an operation a few years back. I’m not complaining, but I feel like you’re saying that this brother’s job and his problems are more important than mine and even worse, than the girl who broke her ankle.”

His face was full of surprise. He replied, “To be clear, I was not trying to say that.” But he had already said it. I can honestly say that it felt like a part of my heart was broken. Never had a priesthood holder made me feel so bad. Not even at those horrendous single adult dances. It hurt. My mind could not process the fact that a servant of the Lord had told me that. I do not think Jesus would have said that, nor do I deny my lack of patience, but no. The Lord taught with love and without discrimination.

From that day on I felt that I was carrying a great weight.  I struggled to understand what was happening. Other things happened that made ​​me think, question, pray. So I proceeded to do what I have been taught to do: read and ask. I came across a book by Joanna Brooks.  While reading it, I almost always cry. The blindfold has fallen from my eyes. In my church, that I love so deeply, there is unequal treatment by sex. I discovered that I’m a feminist.

And as I walk this path, I regret many things I have done. How I sometimes I replicated the symbolic violence to my sisters and brothers. The times I forgot to be Christian before being “perfect.” I felt alone when I learned this truth, but I found other sisters (and brothers) who think as I do and share the pain of confronting this reality.

I remember when I met Joanna, after I told her what had happened to me, and cried, she asked me if I felt I could continue being active in the church. I told her I was trying. I had never understood how people could leave and let go of the gospel; it’s like closing up part of your heart. But now I understand.

I’m still on the path for answers, but my grandmother taught me to fight for what you want and believe. Currently I am part of the Mormon feminist movement in Mexico. We share the pain of outrage, the love of the Gospel of Christ and the hope that the church can be a haven for everyone, without discrimination. We also share the fear of being judged by our brothers and sisters, our leaders and our families. We fear church discipline. We go step by step, we pray to Our Parents, trusting in Their love and in the love of Christ, knowing They smile at us from wherever They are.

We want to be part of the church of Christ, to find joy in His gospel. But we are not willing to endure violence toward ourselves, toward our sisters and our brothers. I believe that in fighting for our ideals, we seek to be part of an inclusive church that preaches and works love. I am concerned about those that are leaving the gospel.  It is sad that our leaders do not understand that this is about retaining members in the church, not driving them away. I want to be part of the church. I want happiness and peace.

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15 Comments

  1. Very well expressed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. While I wish we didn’t have to face these trials, I know that when we’ve experienced hurt it gives us the experience and empathy necessary to help others. There is meaning in our struggles for a more just world.

  2. I, too, have found that many who bristle at the term “feminist” do so because they’ve yet to encounter (or realize the reality of) violence towards themselves or other women. Hearing these stories makes us all more empathetic and charitable towards each other. Thank for this post!

    Me encantó leer esto!

    • I think you are both on to something here. While I think that I have always been feminist, I didn’t always known to call it by that name until one specific hurt.

  3. This was so beautiful, and so powerful.

    Thank you for sharing your hurts with us, as well as your hopes. The second to last paragraph made my tears stream.

  4. Anya, un beso y mis gracias. ¡Qué valor y coraje! Que sepas del amor y solidaridad de tus hermanas en todo el mundo.

  5. Thank you for sharing! This really touched my heart and made me feel a worldwide connection of awakened sisterhood.

  6. Very sincerely written. Enjoyed reading it. You are not alone.

    I have also noticed that people accept me easily and get intrigued by my ideas. However, the moment I use labels for myself such as ‘feminist’ etc, the attitude changes. I have noticed that people are more willing to listen to ideas when they do not know the category under which they fall. There is something about labels that provokes this historic anger and fear instilled in people that takes over their minds and hearts.

  7. Wonderful post, Anya.

    “Currently I am part of the Mormon feminist movement in Mexico. We share the pain of outrage, the love of the Gospel of Christ and the hope that the church can be a haven for everyone, without discrimination.”

    Until I read this, I had had no idea that there was a Mormon feminist movement in Mexico. I would love to make connections and find ways for us to connect, support each other, and share resources. A global sisterhood of Mormon feminists — gives me chills to think about it.

  8. Thank you for writing this, I thought it was really powerful. I love that you confronted your bishop and pointed out what he was saying about you and about the girl. I think the first step to change is helping people to see the larger implications of things they say and do. I wish I spoke Spanish so I could read it in the original! And I love love love that you contributed, I want to hear more stories of all kinds from women outside the U.S.

  9. Me hace feliz de que haya encontrado otros que comparten tu esperanza por la igualdad. Estoy muy interesada en aprender más sobre el feminismo mormón en México, y muy emocionada de conocerte a la próxima semana en la conferencia!

    I am glad you have found others who share your hope for equality. I am very interested in learning more about Mormon feminism in Mexico, and so excited to meet you next week at Conference!

  10. Me da mucho gozo saber de una hermana feminista en Mexico. Gracias por compartir sus experencias dolorosas y el nuevo entendimiento que ha logrado!

  11. Gracias por compartir su historia con nosotras! No es facil abrirse al mundo. Cuando lei este post me dio cuenta que todas las mujeres de la iglesia nos enfrontamos con los mismos desafillos con respeto al sexismo. Tal como dicen que el evangelio es igual en todas partes del mundo, tambien la cultura de sexismo es igual!

  12. Anya, your story sounds so familiar. Thank you for sharing it here, and strength and peace to you as you speak the truth.

  13. Thank you for sharing you story. I’m very impressed with how you’ve expanded this message’s reach through your talents in multiple languages. You were certainly called as the Young Women president for a reason, and your ward and stake are fortunate to have you.

    As I was reading your story about camp, the injury, and the meeting with the Bishop, I tried picturing how the story might have gone if the priesthood brother and Bishop had been women. And it actually seems like this particular scenario could just as easily occurred with female leaders as it did with male leaders. It seems like this unfortunate circumstance occurred simply because those who had power were imperfect and made mistakes. It seems possible that a women could have made these mistakes too.

    The hardest thing about serving in a hierarchical organization made up of humans, is that there is always going to be someone who has greater authority than you, and that person is going to occasionally make mistakes that can negatively impact you. It’s hard to be subjected to the authority of imperfect individuals.

    It’s easy to blame the men for the problems in our Church because they are more frequently the ones in prominent positions. But perhaps the problems we see are not because most of our leaders are men, but because they are all human.

    I know I’ve made more than my share of mistakes. I’m very grateful for those people that have sacrificed to serve with me and for their patience. I’m grateful for the elements of the atonement that can help heal us and strengthen us as we seek for both forgiveness and the ability to forgive.

  14. Anya, thank you for sharing your story here. I’m so happy to read it and love that you gave us this piece in both languages.

    This example speaks volumes about the need for diversity in our priesthood leadership. I’m sorry you and your camper were put in such a horrible position (and not just once!).

    Muchas gracias por tu trabajo y escritura.

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