Ten Years

This summer marked my ten year anniversary as an Exponent blogger. As with any anniversary it feels remarkable both that it’s been that long and that it also feels like it was yesterday. When I started blogging I had one child and was pregnant with my second, at the time I was a director of a domestic violence program in Arizona and I was in throes of my feminist passion. Since then I moved to a different state, was a stay-at-home mom for 5 years, survived a major depressive episode, added two more children to my brood, finished a Master’s degree and went back to work. And through it all the Exponent blog has been there. This community has been one of the most meaningful and supportive of my life and I feel blessed every day to be a part of it.

As I’ve been reflecting on this anniversary it struck me how much I’ve changed during this decade. This is, of course, to be expected but there’s one change in particular that has surprised me–my activist zeal for change in the Mormon church has almost completely disappeared. In 2010, I was one of the co-founders of LDSWAVE along with some of my fellow Exponent bloggers and other MoFems. And while the organization is mostly defunct now it was at the forefront of the Mormon feminist activism wave that began eight years ago, culminating with Ordain Women. I remember attending a retreat and talking excitedly about the possibility for change in the church when an older feminist who had been through the fights of the 90’s remarked on my fervor and said that experience had taken hers away. Besides feeling a little patronized I also felt pity for this woman who couldn’t see that things were changing and that all the church needed was a good push. But my activism came to halt with the excommunication of Kate Kelly and then the November 2015 Exclusion Policy stomped on any remaining hopeful embers that things could be different. It turns out that the wise matriarch was right and I was wrong.

My activism has turned outside of the church and I now work towards making my state, and society more broadly, a more equitable and just place. I still go to church every week and find quiet joy in belonging to the little community of Saints in my downtown ward. But my expectations for change in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is low–and maybe it’s healthier that way. I don’t know what the next decade will bring but I look forward to finding out.

When you look back at your life and things you cared passionately about, does anything surprise you about how it turned out? What do you think the next decade will bring for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?



Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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14 Responses

  1. Violadiva says:

    Girl, I hear ya. This MoFem activism thing is a thankless, exhausting slog that feels like it goes nowhere and then backwards. I’m glad to see new, young feminists join the ranks with their fire. I hope the larger movement finds a sustainable pace and not so many will burn out and fizzle.
    By it’s just so difficult to push against an immovable object for too long. It either has to budge, or we’ll tire of pushing.

    I’ve found great purpose and peace in pointing my activism toward raising up children of character and kindness through teaching them music, through working with school kids and my own students. It’s also pointing the activism in a positive way, which I really like.

    Perhaps the exhausting part of engagement in Mormon feminism is that it feels like so few things go right and that we’re constabtly in a state of pointing out problems and oversights that we never get to experience the success of our efforts.

  2. Chiaroscuro says:

    I have little hope for changes within the church as well.

  3. EasyGreen says:

    My daughter has the fire that I had ten years ago, and I am the matriarch who saw nothing would change. Hard lessons.

  4. Ziff says:

    I love your optimism, mraynes, and the fact that you’ve shifted your activism in a direction that’s less an immovable object. I’m sorry the LDS church is so resistant to change, but I so appreciate the work that you and others like you have done.

    I’ve definitely never been in the middle of activism like you have, but I’ve definitely had a similar shift over time in that I’ve come to realize that the church is never going to change as quickly as I would like. It won’t even come close. A decade from now, we’ll have more rumors about the two-hour block and another new initiative on trying to get people to call the church by its full name. Women will still be an afterthought. The November policy will still be in place. I guess at least the church/BSA divorce will be complete.

  5. jettie says:

    Hang in there, sis. As a youth leader, I see the numbers: we’ve got at *least* 3 YW for every YM in our stake, and at regional activities, those numbers are about the same, if not even more skewed towards YW. By the time these youth are running things in the church, there’s no way there will be enough men to be in charge of everything anymore. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Tell your children, like mothers of the stripling warriors, about your past plights and disappointments/heartaches. Help them catch the vision of a better tomorrow for our girls and women. They will build it for us.

    • rah says:

      For feminist activism those numbers don’t give me hope. If there were 3 YM for every active YW I think you would start to see change much, much more rapidly. I support those that live within the church and try and push from the inside, but sadly I think that until women actually leave in droves, not stay, there will be little impetus for the COB to do more than tinker on the edges. I don’t push people to vote with their feet and I don’t think that is the right thing for everyone to do. In fact, knowing the costs of doing so I tend to default to encouraging people to ask whether they really want to pay the cost of leaving. However, I think macro changes will only come if women stop supporting the institution with their time, labor and presence. I am so sad to say that, but there is no other mechanism I can see operating at this point.

  6. Anon says:

    I believe there will come a point when the inequality in the church will become intolerable to a majority of members. I fear it’s a long way off, but It seems inevitable because younger generations of women simply aren’t going to put up with it. Continual baby steps just won’t cut it

    A good start would be to stop allowing men to be sealed to multiple women, or allow women to be sealed to more than one man.

    • Wondering Why says:

      Really, that’s the most important? Doing the former would mean a lot more women not being sealed to someone than men.

    • Old Grump says:

      “… it seems inevitable…”. I love these doomsday scenarios. They so rarely turn out correct that they are actually reassuring.

      Yeah, let’s have faithful women enter a man’s second marriage without a sealing or start polyandry on an eternal scale, that will fix everything.

    • Moss says:

      I agree with Anon- allowing women to be sealed to more than one man (while she’s alive) would nicely equalize the sealing practices. It’s always fun to see how uncomfortable the men get when they are the ones contemplating sharing their spouses!

  7. Anon says:

    I didn’t say it was the most important, nor do I think so. It’s just a simple step they could take to do away with the inequality of sealings.

  8. Aspen Hassell says:

    I have seen change, even just in my 24 years of life and church membership. Lowering the age for sister missionaries to serve, allowing sisters to be Sister Training Leaders in missions and to serve fully alongside APs and Zone Leaders. Expanding the role of the church auxiliary leaders. Allowing Young Women to minister at age 14, like the teachers. The increasing acceptance and encouragement of women in education and careers….

    I still have so many questions and things I’d like to see done differently in the church. But I feel that the tide is moving in our direction, not away from us. And I believe that I will see many of my desired changes even in my lifetime. But it is frustrating when things don’t go at a faster pace.

  9. Ari says:

    I don’t think mormon feminists are going to change the church. Too many women are not awake to their own oppression, which enables leaders to dismiss the voices of feminists. But, I love that the Mormon feminist community exists because it helped me and many others to see that we are not alone. That we are not crazy. That is worth a great deal.

    Personally, I am not so committed to seeing change in the church. The questions I had about my ‘value’ that grew out of the misogyny I’ve observed in the church led me down a road of discovery that made all my literal belief fall away. I now only believe in the truthfulness of scriptures on a metaphorical level. Unfortunately, as the literal beliefs fade away, all that’s left behind are the toxic things.

    The day is coming soon when my only connection to the LDS church will be through the Mormon feminists.

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