Guest Post: The Silent Pain of Mormon Women
I never saw sexism. Not in general, and certainly not in the church. It wasn’t until my divorce a couple of years ago where my ex-husband left me for someone else and was requesting to be sealed just weeks after I moved out. Then I saw it every Sunday, not only in the culture but in every interview I’ve had since then as I’m still not able to be sealed to my second husband. I’m still asked what I did to cause the divorce. Unlike Mormon men, who can be sealed to as many women as they want, we women have to have permission to get our previous sealings cancelled to then be able to be sealed to our subsequent husbands. A process which I am continually reminded “takes time.” It’s been two and a half years. Many women wait much longer.
A few days ago, a woman referred to the church as one big “boys’ club.” She said that the boys in the church grow up and progress: they get the different levels of priesthood and accomplishments while we watch.
That’s all she said, but in that moment my heart SHATTERED in realization: It is just one giant boys’ club.
The boys grow up, they get the priesthood, the keys; they get the glory of the mission field. They give the blessings, they do the baptisms. They grow up to lead the church; they write the rules, make the policies. They “preside.” God only speaks to and through them. Men wrote the scriptures and 99.9% of it is named after them. They get to be sealed to as many of us as they like. They tell us what to do with our bodies, what we can and can’t do in the bedroom. We pray to Heavenly Father only; we aren’t allowed to pray to Heavenly Mother and we don’t learn about Her, and we rarely even speak of Her. Many believe there are multiple Heavenly Mothers. No one knows, because there is zero doctrine about Her.
Meanwhile, our one goal in the church is to grow up to someday be their wives and the mother of their kids. Nurture, nurture, nurture. Don’t be selfish, serve more. Lose yourself in service. Support your husband in his calling. We have to have the permission of men we’ve never met to be sealed to who we want. We don’t get the priesthood and are apostate for wanting it. Get back in your place; this is the men’s arena. We can’t have meetings without their approval, can’t give talks without their stamp. Girl’s camps must have men present or it’s a no-go. Which means girls must wear what men find acceptable. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. It’s our fault if they look at us wrong, don’t you know.
We get to the temple, where we covenant to be submissive and be a part of polygamy. But we are told if we are really good, one day we can become “equals” and rule and reign “with” our husband.
But then what happens? If we make it to where we are supposedly equals in the afterlife, Almighty and Omnipotent with our husbands, we are then hidden. Virtually erased. Our posterity doesn’t really know who we are, or even how many of us there are. They aren’t allowed to worship or pray to us; we may not be able to speak to them. No doctrine, no scripture. Just silence and speculation.
But once you’ve seen this, you can’t say anything. Be quiet and don’t question, or you’re apostate and could be kicked out. And if you’re kicked out, you’re giving up your eternity. This is the way it is, so get used to it and don’t try to change it. Better safe than sorry; otherwise you’re just falling for anti-Mormon propaganda.
I’ve cried for days. My heart truly shattered and I can’t unsee it. I want so badly to see that that’s wrong. But I can’t, because it’s not.
It is such a lonely pain. I feel forever a commodity, eternally doomed to be secondary, just a vessel for men’s wants. Many men in the church see this and sympathize, but they can’t truly understand, because they are God’s chosen. As one woman put it, “If all of the women suddenly disappeared tomorrow, the church would keep on churching. Nothing would change.”
If only men would hear our cries.
Taylor is a Vocal Instructor, Piano Teacher, Freelance Writer, and Feminist. She has two children and a husband who helps her pave the way for them and future generations.