Same or Different?

All Mormons know that men and women are different.  That is why men hold the priesthood and women don’t, right?  Yet, fortunately, we are the same enough that we ladies don’t need to confess our sins to clergypeople of our own gender.  Mormon men are similar enough to women to easily see things from our not-too-unique feminine perspective.  Moreover, we ladies never feel intimidated by having to present such personal issues to someone of the opposite gender.  They are not really opposite, after all.  They’re the same.

Since we’re all the same, we all have the opportunity to speak at the pulpit.  However, since men and women are different, it is important that we ladies hear both male and female perspectives at our women’s meetings.  Therefore, we always make sure to include a male speaker at our General Relief Society and Young Women meetings.  However, we are alike enough that men can have only male speakers at men’s meetings without worrying about losing the unique female perspective.  (It’s not that unique, remember?) Of course, we are different enough that it is important to include both genders on the program of our General Conferences, but luckily, we are the same enough that we ladies don’t have any problem relating all of the messages conveyed at conference to ourselves even though only two of the 30 or 40 speakers are female.

Yin YangAlmost all of us, male and female, equally share the responsibility to visit other members in their homes once a month and teach them spiritual lessons.  We’re the same that way.  Of course, we are different in that women need to receive such visits twice a month—once from another pair of women and once from a man accompanied by a teenage boy.  Men do fine with just one visit from two other guys.  Women do not visit teach men—men are just too different to be expected to listen to a message from a female messenger in the comfort of their own homes.  However, men do home teach to people of both genders; they’re different from women that way.

I am glad I could clear up any gender-related confusion there may have been out there. It all makes sense now, right?

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at

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16 Responses

  1. Christi says:

    Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel. It makes no sense. You are so different, you’re so special, you don’t need the priesthood! But you’re not that different that we will look at anything from your point of view, ever. Why is that even necessary?

  2. Amelia says:

    I have two favorite gender related Mormon oxymoronic beliefs:

    1. Gender is eternal so we had it before this earthly existence and it will continue with us after this earthly existence; but we need to try really, really hard to teach women how to be women. (men, too, but in less overt ways)

    2. Men and women are by definition different; but we don’t need to have women’s perspective in leadership.

    Makes me nuts. You can’t have it both ways.

  3. Emily U says:

    The Emperor’s clothes came off, and underneath was centuries of sexism.

    I hate to sound so cynical, but that’s what all the flowery praise of women we hear from the Church is — a finely woven cover for the inconsistencies around gender that we inherited from our forebears and continue to nurture.

    • spunky says:

      AMEN, EMILY U!!! When I research Masculinity studies, I can’t help but keep thinking I am reading church history. It confuses me to not end.

  4. Sherry says:

    April – this should be in the ENSIGN and sent to the GA’s and Aux. Presidents. Such truth you write! At least cross-post it to other LDS blogs so it’s seen by more people.
    Reminds me of Carol Lynn Pearson’s classic “A Walk in Pink Moccasins.”

    • April says:

      Thank you Sherrie! I’ve got a draft essay about the value of male genitalia to spiritual work and maybe I’ll send that one to Ensign, since I missed the opportunity with this essay.

      I loved the Pearson piece. Thanks for the link.

  5. X2 Dora says:

    April, this a fabulous description of the twisted nature of gender interactions within the church. I’m reading through some information on Mary Magdalene, and really enjoying _Sister at the Well_ (which Caroline recommended to me), by the Holzapfels. Fascinating. Of course you can keep women down, and prevent them from expressing their full humanity when you don’t educate them, don’t allow them to participate in public discourse, strip them of their right to sexual autonomy, and deny them the rights of free citizens. Centuries of sexism? Millennia!

  6. Orwell says:

    Phew, thank goodness I’m a male and am therefore enough like women to read this post yet different enough to still mansplain it to you in the comments.

  7. Genevieve says:


  8. Ziff says:

    Great post, April! A perfect way of highlighting the contradictions in our two lines of rhetoric.

  9. Olea says:

    So well articulated!

    Now my train of thought is trying to head in several directions at once.

    Just one idea: if the Priesthood is the power of god on the earth, would that not include authority/direction from Heavenly Mother? So, perhaps simply by virtue of having the Priesthood, men are in fact able to somewhat bridge the “gap” between genders? (Of course, this only strengthens my preference for women also being ordained to the Priesthood, so maybe it doesn’t really make sense to people who feel differently) (and it doesn’t really resolve any of the problems, just thinking aloud, really)

  10. EmilyCC says:

    I love everything about this!

  11. gr8scot says:

    Bravo! Why is something that is so clear, so difficult for so many to see? Maybe it’s so clear, that they just see right through it? Thanks for a great post.

  12. nat kelly says:

    What a perfect illustration of how dense and nonsensical these conversations can quickly become! Excellent post, April!

  13. Suzette Smith says:

    Very Clever. I loved it.

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