Podcast: Exponent II Founder Claudia Bushman
I tune into podcasts while I’m doing housework as it helps me to keep my mind active as I engage in the mundane chores of caring for our family’s home. My housework/podcast-listening habit seemed particularly apropos this afternoon as I tuned in to the recent MormonStories interview with Claudia Bushman, a founding mother of the Exponent II newspaper.
As I folded a mountain of laundry I reflected on how Claudia and other of the original Exponent II writers navigated their roles as faithful Mormon women, mothers, and feminists–often mixing the three roles as they juggled all of their efforts. In this particular podcast Claudia speaks about feeling tension between those roles and how she eventually made the choice to distance herself from the Exponent II at the request of church authorities. She says that it was one of those painful moments where you have to “Do what you are told to do” or “Go your own way.” She chose to resign from her involvement with the newspaper rather than face church discipline. She adds that she is now glad that she made that choice because of the many opportunities for influence that she’s had as a Mormon woman.
Let me urge each of you to take a few moments to listen to this important podcast. And then please return here for some vigorous discussion. Please consider responding to all or some of these questions:
1) Claudia says that “grassroots movements are suspect” in the church. Do you agree with this assertion? Can you think of any Mormon grassroots movements that haven’t been discouraged by the Church?
2) What ways (besides what Claudia mentioned) can the church better accommodate younger and older women? Do you agree with her idea of splitting the Relief Society into age groups?
3) As Claudia touched upon briefly, how do we reconcile the Mormon ideal of perfection with the reality of our flawed selves?
4) How can we find better balance between the demands of full-time motherhood and our desires for intellectual and social stimulation? Does the early years of Exponent II offer a model for this that should be followed elsewhere?
5) Being married to a church leader has its pros and cons, as Claudia mentions. If you have similar experiences what did you enjoy most about the years your husband was a bishop/stake president? What did you enjoy the least? What do you wish you had done differently, in retrospect? What advice would you have for a young bishop’s wife?
6) Claudia discusses that she has seen many changes to the church during her lifetime and that she expects to see many more. But she has the experience of many years hindsight and experience to draw from so she doesn’t feel discouraged. Do you ever feel hopeless, like things are never going to change for women in the church? If so, how do you overcome these feelings?
7) What most surprised you about this interview? Were you inspired? If so, why?
8) There seem to be many parallels between the EXII women starting up their own paper and Mormon women bloggers. How are these groups different? Is there more diversity with the web than with a group of mostly-SAHM’s working on a paper in Boston? Is there any significance to the fact that most LDS women bloggers are in their 20s and 30s as were the founding mothers of the Exponent II paper?
9) If you could ask Claudia a follow-up question, what would it be?