Mormon Feminist Activism
While at Counterpoint conference sponsored by the Mormon Women’s Forum last fall, I began thinking about Mormon feminism in a new way. My presentation was about the way Mormon feminist blogs have affected my life and my spiritual journey. Truthfully, I can’t overstate how much the relationships I’ve created with these women from blogs and from my local Mormon feminist community have changed my life.
Thus, I don’t want my post to be mistaken as a critique of current network of Mormon feminists. Perhaps I’m not aware of the past or current attempts to activate Mormon feminists. Here, though, I’d like to examine the possibilities of the future of Mormon feminism as a movement.
The turning point for me at Counterpoint conference was when I began to ask myself these questions: What if there is more to Mormon feminism than isolated blogs like Exponent and ZD and fMh), retreats like DAM, Exponent, Sophia Gathering, and Pilgrimage, and women getting together for book groups and lunch groups? What if Mormon feminism stopped being just a casual thing that many of us have in common, a place to lay our burdens on the breasts of those who care and understand?
What if Mormon feminism could actually DO something?
All of the Mormon feminists I know are ambitious, brilliant, and brave. What is stopping us from doing something to create awareness and cohesion among others like us?
I don’t know exactly what it would look like, but a Mormon feminist movement would have to be well-branded and catchy, pleasant in it’s critiques, and calm in it’s requests. A Mormon feminist movement would be capable of informing people, creating a dialogue, calling attentions to injustices past and present, with aim to improve the rights of women in the church around the world.
Here are my lame attempts at slogans, stolen from modern branding geniuses:
Mormon Feminism- Think Outside the Patriarchy
Mormon Feminism- Got Equality? (I’d love to hear your ideas for branding or slogans)
I’d like to think that a Mormon feminist movement has incredible potential. So many women identify with issues of gender equality, distribution of power within the church and at home, struggles with balancing self and family responsibilities, and even teachings of the church that neglect the divine feminine.
The closest thing I’ve seen to this kind of activism was the What Women Know site in response to Julie Beck’s conference talk. A well written document, it attracted a variety of signers and responses.
Below is my first draft of a name, mission statement, and vision for a Mormon Feminist Movement. I welcome your suggestions or critiques.
Mormon Women of Action
Our mission is to share the virtues of feminism with members of the Mormon church.
To accomplish this, we invite women to share their personal stories, advocate for change of hurtful policies or practices, find support for alternative opinions or interpretations of church doctrine, and pursue a relationship with divine feminine.
The next part of the process towards activism would have to be organizing and creating consensus for a specific platform. This would be very tricky because of the diversity of beliefs within the group. On one end of the spectrum is the Radical Feminist Manifesto , and on the other end those who are in favor of equality but troubled by any references to requesting change. My hope is that we could find enough issues in the middle to find some compromise.
A unity of groups, and a common umbrella is what I am most interested in. How do we create a popular and positive brand that women are proud to be a part of that still advocates for Mormon Feminism? How do we unite women from all over the world who read and comment on Mormon feminist blogs?
Perhaps I am way off base with this post. I’ve considered that some readers may think that trying to change anything within the church is fruitless either because it just WON’T happen because of currently patriarchal power structures, or SHOULDN’T happen because the way things are is God’s will.
Others may agree with me that changes should and could be made, but don’t see Mormon feminism as a vehicle to do so. Perhaps these readers see Mormon feminism as more of a phenomenon to study or watch with interest, instead of a movement aiming for institutional change.
Lastly, I can imagine a group that may agree with all of these ideas and yet be too scared to sign their name to anything that remotely dissents from the church, regardless of how gentle or well aimed.
In conclusion, activism for things that we care about is part of our daily lives. Last week, I went to Washington D.C. to discuss my sons’ health care needs with our Senators and Congressmen/women. Advocating for equality and women’s voices in the church isn’t substantively different. Perhaps it’s just a matter of changing from an internal dialogue to and external dialogue, of changing our perspective.
I’m interested in your thoughts on the potential for a Mormon Feminist Movement.
Could it work? Would you want it to? Why or why not?
What issues would include in a MFM platform?