#hearLDSwomen: I’m Told at Church and at BYU It’s My Job to Be A Wife and Mother, Not to Have a Career
I was asked (as a working mother and previous single mother) to speak in sacrament about the Family Proclamation and specifically about God-given role of women to stay home and care for their children.
– Rachel Coleman
Before I started my master’s program at BYU, I of course had to get an ecclesiastical endorsement. My bishop offered nothing but support and kindness during round one of the interview process. When I went in for the stake presidency interview, the counselor who I met with asked with great concern if I already have a full-time job. When I answered yes, he proceeded to ask if adding graduate school to my already busy schedule would prevent me from fulfilling my responsibilities to my family. I responded by saying that my daughter is married, my son has his mission call, and my husband is a grown man who can take care of himself.
– Kathryn Larsen
I recently studied Engineering at BYU. Most of my professors gave a testimony at some point, that they knew how important school and learning were and how much studying Engineering would help us, even the girls because Engineering is a great major to prepare for motherhood. I never heard even one male teacher in the department acknowledge that a female might have a career after marriage/kids. Some of the smartest people in our class were female. On awards night at the end of senior year, not a single female received an award based on anything but straight GPA. They did recognize one amazingly talented woman by nominating her husband as ‘Most likely to be a stay at home Dad’ as a joke and giving him an award. As an Engineer raised in the Mormon Belt, I have been to hundreds of meetings/seminars claiming to support women in STEM. I have only once seen a woman with a full-time career as the guest speaker/role model.
My grandmother, as Associate Editor of the Relief Society Magazine, was paid significantly less than men in similar positions, because they were “supporting their families” while her pay was supposedly just extra, even though she’d explained to them that my grandfather threw his money into risky investments and she was almost the entire support for herself and my mother.
– Nancy K.
I think the biggest silencing the church did to me was when I worked at LDSFS. I was told to stop participating in Mormon feminism in any way, leave all MoFem groups on FB, stop commenting on any feminist blogs, or else I was in danger of losing my job. I was written up by my supervisor. This was action was prompted because a mole in the fMh Facebook group sent screenshots of my comments to church headquarters. This was the Ogden, Utah office at the end of 2011, beginning of 2012. I did what I was told and shut up. Until June 2013 when I quit my job. They were actively dismantling the adoption program and wanted us to lie to our clients that despite rumors it was “business as usual.” I thought it was funny I was asked to break temple covenants by not being honest in my dealings, but couldn’t be honest about my feminist feelings in public.
– Marisa McPeck-Stringham
When I was 18, I was sitting in Stake Conference between my dad and older sister. The stake president was giving the closing remarks. I don’t remember what the topic of his talk was but I do remember my blood started to simmer early and then boil by the end. He started talking about the evils of feminism (this was early 2002). He said that all of the evils in society could be traced back to feminism and the denegration of the family unit and home. The only comment that has been seared in my mind was “Women should be more concerned about the state and strength of their ceiling at home than trying to break through and glass ceiling that, when broken, the shards of which will damage, injure and destroy all in its path.” At that point in my life I hadn’t “come out” per se as a feminist, I didn’t have the language for it yet, but I knew that he was talking about me. I knew that he thought who I was at my core – a feminist- was something he was teaching was evil. When I looked around and saw approval and nodding heads of the people in my stake my heart simultaneously broke and my rage ignited. The moment the meeting was over I bolted, leaving my family behind. I walked the neighborhood trying to get my rage and hurt under control. When I got my home my dad didn’t understand why I was upset. He figured if I was angry and hurt it was because I was being called to repentance and it was a message I needed to hear.
I left for college that fall. I attended a liberal women’s college in Southern California. The next 4 years solidified my own brand of feminism and, I know keep, set me on a path that eventually led me to leaving the church when I discovered I was pregnant with a little girl. I knew I never wanted her to feel the way I did sitting in that crowded cultural hall.
– Kelly Boren
Pro Tip: Women have many different roles and desires and viewpoints. Do not pigeonhole women into one role or set of opinions that may not fit. Trust women to know what’s best for them.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)