New Series: #VisibleWomen: You can’t be What You can’t See

My years in the Young Women’s organization were rough on me. Part of it was just teenage awkwardness and the rest was teenage cliquishness. As soon as I turned 18, I switched to Relief Society. I have a December birthday, so I spent the last half of my senior year out of Young Women’s. For me, Relief Society was a level playing field filled with a rich history of strong women. Age didn’t matter, we were all women together.

I was called as the Relief Society pianist and paired with one of my seminary teachers as visiting teaching partners. We were assigned to teach one of the other seminary teachers. I’ll let you all imagine how odd it is to refer to your seminary teachers as Sister So-and-so on the weekdays and by first names on Sunday.

Very quickly I learned that all was not well in Relief Society Land, either. The seminary teacher I was supposed to visit teach didn’t like the visiting teaching program and requested that we not visit her. My companion would do lunch with her (and obviously was in constant contact because of sharing the job of teaching seminary) and that was my extent of visiting teaching.

It was both shocking and good for me to learn that a person that I looked up to as a spiritual leader didn’t follow all the programs of the Church exactly. I think it has helped me be more compassionate with people whose needs must to be addressed differently. I still very much believe in Relief Society and its attempt at its expansive mission, but it’s obvious that it isn’t reaching everyone. From Ordain Women to Mormon Women Stand, Mormon women are creating organizations to fill the gaps that the church programs are leaving behind. Of course, Relief Society can’t be everything to everyone, but I believe it, and in turn the Church, can be more to more people.

This Sunday is International Women’s Day and for this, the Exponent is starting a new blog series: #VisibleWomen: you can’t be what you can’t see. In addition to personal stories of Mormon women, this series will come with calls to ask the Church, “Would you please consider…” ways to make women more visible in the Church and feel more include. Hopefully a few of these suggestions will speak to you and you’ll participate in your own ways.




TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.

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9 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    Great post TopHat. I think this will be a great way for us to let our leaders know what is important to us and what we are lacking in our spiritual edification at church.

  2. spunky says:

    I am so looking forward to this series, Tophat!! Thank you for this beautiful introductory post– you are right– not all is well in “Relief Society land…” I love that we have the opportunity to make a different in the church and look forward to the examples that will be in the upcoming posts.

  3. Ziff says:

    I am totally looking forward to this series!

  4. N.W. Clerk says:

    Sounds like there’s not much hope for blind people.

    • TopHat says:

      The quote “You can’t be what you can’t see” is by author Marian Wright Edelman.

      You’re right that it could be able-ist, though. A more inclusive version might be “You can’t be what you can’t perceive” or “conceive.” And totally off-topic (it’s my post so I can do that), but there was an interesting Invisibilia episode on how some blind people “see” by NPR called “How to Become Batman.”

  5. Melody says:

    Thanks, TopHat! This will be fabulous!

  6. EmilyCC says:

    So exciting! thank you for introducing this important series, TopHat!

  1. March 30, 2015

    […] stories we hear in Church teach us? I was thinking about this question recently after reading the #VisibleWomen series at the Exponent. The question of how patterns teach was brought to my mind because the whole series […]

  2. March 30, 2015

    […] the great work of which LDS women of the past and present engage. We have added our voices to many others who have stated that we need more visible LDS women role models–for both women and […]

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