What is Moderate Mormon Feminism?

"I have developed a more refined understanding of the feminism spectrum, and I have come to the following conclusion: If you care about the spiritual, emotional and intellectual development opportunities available to you, your wife, your sister or your daughter, you are a feminist. Period. Based on this definition, the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inherently feminist. The Lord cares about women, our leaders care about women and we as a people care about women. But if we are going to honor this inherent doctrinal feminism and add our gospel-driven perspectives to the greater feminist dialogue, we Mormons must be comfortable entertaining a broad spectrum of feminist convictions so that we enlarge our embrace to include any person who feels comfortable working on behalf of women." Neylan McBaine, A Moderate Mormon Manifesto

Friday, April 11, 2014

Uhh . . . Come, Follow Me?

So after this weekend of conference I've been thinking about this whole blogging thing - and knowing that I have felt prompted to share and seeing the fruits of it in my life when I have helped people.  (That's one of the things that has helped Darik, is being here in my life he hears about all the stories and comments and emails and heart-to-hearts I end up having with people and he *sees* that I'm helping.  Kinda helps the whole feminist marriage dynamic.)

Basically after I blog I just share it on my facebook feed, and I think that sometimes this Mormon feminist stuff could be overwhelming for those who aren't interested or for those who are kind of hostile; in an attempt to separate my personal / family / friend life from this public feminism, I started a facebook page associated with this blog to follow.

I've always been really hesitant to promote or try to advance this blog at all - because I don't want it to become about me, or for me to think I have really awesome things to say and need to be invited to give TED talks like a thought leader or anything (that was a joke).  I'm just a woman doing her best to be passionately faithful and obedient and to ask appropriate questions, mostly about culture and hopes for further revelation.  I feel prompted to share and I don't know what the results will be, I hope wherever the message lands that it does some good, somewhere out there.  That is part of my struggle, I haven't defined my audience (fellow feminists?  people struggling?  family or friends seeking to understand?) and I'm not sure how I should proceed and move forward, but this is my next idea.

If anyone is interested, here is the link:

Confessions of a Moderate Mormon Feminist on Facebook

I also plan on posting links to the things I was sharing on my facebook feed like body image, modesty, and gender struggles in other cultures (p.s. watch The Menstrual Man!), etc.  

So really, I'm not asking you to, but if you really want to - you can like my page and follow me.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept

I've had some wonderful conversations with family members lately (more on that later) and it has come to my attention that in the process of sharing my story and my opinions -- I have not been the most efficient communicator.  It is very hard to convey my tone and purpose.  As I continue to share I plan on putting more effort into being more clear.

For example . . . when I say the word "question" what does it mean?  Especially when applied to our leaders?

One of the results of going through my faith transition, is that when I studied and pondered the Gospel, I found questions about my faith - I never doubted the core doctrines of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But I looked at the appendages, I saw how they moved and changed and didn't stay constant (this includes teachings of our leaders).  In order to not allow questions to shake your anchor, foundation, or testimony -- one must expand the perspective and vision of what Truth is.  Whereas before I thought I had all the answers with certainty and everything I had been taught was 100% the whole, complete answer; instead I saw it from an eternal perspective from far, far away.  I see everything we have as a place on the path that a full and complete truth is being revealed, line upon line - precept upon precept. 

God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  It is impossible for any human being to understand as He does and know what He knows. As He interacts with us, He chooses men to lead and guide His church on this earth.  As He inspires, instructs, and leads them I envision the following story as an example:
I have a 16-yr-old girl I volunteer with once a week. She wanted to learn how to make a cheesecake. I bought the ingredients and showed her how/helped her make it. The crust was burned and it was intensely lumpy. I could have fixed those things, but I didn’t want to, because she wouldn’t have learned as much, and I would have robbed her of the sense of accomplishment that is so important to her developing confidence in herself. I didn’t fix the problems because I have a vision that goes beyond cheesecake. I have a vision of her and what she has the potential to become. My understanding of God is that he works in the same way. He could fix all of the imperfections in our church [organization or] leadership right now if he wanted to. But his goal isn’t a perfect church, it’s perfected human beings. And to learn and grow and become perfected, we have to be allowed to screw up, and learn from our mistakes. In the end, the cheesecake still tasted really, really good. (Quoted from a comment at FMH)
 When I listen to the words of my leaders I'm not searching out lines and sentences that I am judging to be wrong.  But in the context of my Heavenly Father lovingly revealing truth line upon line, I imagine what the full truth will continue to be revealed.  I ponder the words of my leaders and love their counsel and guidance.  And as I ponder I wonder how these teachings will be built upon and expanded upon.  Sometimes when new truths are revealed, they show that our previous teachings were limited by our human understanding.  I wonder what truths will be revealed next? 

And as I read Elder Oaks' talk from Saturday night, that was my response: I rejoiced in the further light and knowledge that was revealed.  For the first time in my life . . . I heard taught from the pulpit that women are endowed with their own priesthood power in the temple (not access to it, and not through their husbands).  We have priesthood power.  The power of the priesthood is not limitied to being a male, and he taught that neither males nor females are more special or favorite to God.  Women aren't inherently better or special-er than men.  He also taught that those with priesthood keys grant priesthood authority to others perform certain tasks, whether male or female: again, not limited by gender.  WOW, you guys!  We have been living below our privileges!!  He also taught that the Relief Society is more than just an organization of women that holds classes, it is where women with priesthood power and authority are to work together to change the world in wisdom and order.  Women are not currently granted offices of the orders of Melkizedek or Aaronic priesthoods.  I wonder how this will play out and be revealed according to Joseph Smith's teachings that he "was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day— as in Paul[']s day"?  (Nauvoo RS Minute Book, Joseph Smith Papers)  Further analysis of that statement is found here.

So as I ponder his words, I wonder, "Hmmm, I wonder if there are other orders of the priesthood that could be established?"and "I wonder what further light and knowledge will build upon this line and precept we have been given tonight?"  I do not perceive our teachings as 100% the knowledge and truth of God, but a step in that direction. 

I heard Elder Oaks speak about how in this Church we should not be worried about rights but responsibilities.  I loved that!  One thing Neylan McBaine taught in her FAIR address about gender in the Church, is that she doesn't think that women in the church are in a power struggle; that we are in a purpose struggle.  I wholeheartedly agree with this perception.  Currently in our church we have a fairly narrow view of the purpose and responsibilities given to women.  This narrow view has hampered my spiritual growth, and I had to discover for myself God has an expanded purpose for women than I was trying to fill.  I imagine it being near impossible to heal from the trial of infertility if one cannot expand their definition of womanhood past motherhood.  General Relief Society President Linda Burton was quoted as saying that the church stands to benefit as “men’s vision of the capacity of women becomes more complete” (Citation)

As one Mormon Feminist explains:  "Expanding the definition of mother to encompass all women merely expands our concept of motherhood. It keeps the womanhood = motherhood paradigm intact.
I want an expanded definition of womanhood— one where motherhood is one of many choices we can make to express our divine femininity."

This expression does not demand sameness and equality - but hopes for further understanding of women in the plan of Salvation and in the life hereafter.  You have to admit our understanding of that is pretty limited.  We desire and seek for further revelation.  It is true I would like women to have more responsibility in building the Kingdom of God (not necessarily priesthood keys).  Not all women feel so and I understand that perspective, but I certainly have the ability and availability because of my circumstances to do so, and I feel my unique talents and gifts should be used to build the kingdom to the fullest respect possible.

I do believe Elder Oaks' teachings were mostly in response to the Ordain Women movement.  And I have expressed I do not mind them existing.  I do not agree with their actions or choices.  I'm grateful these issues became vocal and part of the public conversation, and not just private conversation . . . I believe it played a part in the receiving further light and knowledge we received this weekend.  Sometimes we do have to ask to receive more.  They may continue asking.  I will continue asking for further light and knowledge, because:

"I Believe God Will Yet Reveal Many Great and Important Things Pertaining to the Kingdom of God"

Now, in regards to why certain people have issues or questions or wish for changes, I wanted to share a comment given on my facebook page:
I am not sure there is a more beautiful expression of faith than when we show obedience even amidst questions. That is sustaining.

I loved the talk from President Uchtdorf a few sessions ago when he said, "Don't judge me b
ecause I sin differently than you." I think we would all be wise to apply those same words of advice now... "Don't judge me because I QUESTION differently than you."

We all have questions throughout the journey of mortality. That is simply part of agency, and an important tool in building our faith and making us truly converted. Sometimes our questions are deeply personal, private struggles. And sometimes there is a community of our brothers and sisters struggling with the same question.

Those questioning now deserve the same respect, support, and love that I deserved when I was struggling to reconcile my infertility with my understanding of my divine purpose as a woman, or when someone else struggles to understand the principle of tithing, or forgiveness, or with the temple, or to understand a story or principle in the scriptures or church history, etc. The questions may be different, but the way the person questioning should be treated is not.

President Monson's words today about love touched me deeply. "Love is the very essence of our gospel and Jesus Christ is our exemplar." As disciples of Him and members of His church, we should always strive to love as He would. We know that He would love those who question or struggle, because He lived that way. He would not accuse, or judge, or belittle. And He would certainly never tell that person they didn't belong in His church. He left the 99 to find the 1. He wept with those who mourned. He extended compassion to those who doubted. He forgave those who sinned.

He needs us to do the same now. We have been commanded to love one another, even those—especially those—that may question differently than we do.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How A Mormon Feminist Sustains the Leaders of the Church

I sustain my leaders. They are men of God, and they are our leaders who God has chosen to lead us and these are the teachings for our days. Elder Hafen gave a wonderful talk about how to deal with ambiguity and disagreements between our church, that it is okay to have a different opinion, but I defer to them and obey. That is how I sustain. I do not have more knowledge than them. God knows all things, and I acknowledge that we do not know what further light and knowledge will look like. No one knows what the 100% of further light and knowledge looks like. Our further knowledge could look totally different than what we have now as line upon line is received. I do not assume to know what the answers are or when they will come.

The scriptures teach me and show patterns of prophets asking questions and struggling with issues and it is okay to have questions and struggles (it is often a prerequisite to the answer being given) -- but we still obey.

We may be receiving promptings to share our questions or stories because they may help others. I have had experiences where I have followed the promptings of the Spirit and I ended up being an instrument in His hands that helps other people. It is possible to be a faithful Mormon feminist, following the promptings of the Spirit, and asking questions and sustaining the leaders.

Dealing with Uncertainty, Elder Hafen
Approaching Mormon Doctrine, LDS Church
Faithful Dissent, FMH

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Faith, Hope, and Love

There have always been disputations about doctrine amongst believers, even back to the New Testament.  That's okay. But let's not elevate ourselves above each other -- what can we learn from this?  How can we stretch and grow?
FAITH
I do know I feel prompted to share and speak.  I have faith that there is a reason I'm being prompted to share (regardless of the outcome).  So what if changes I want to see never happen in this life?  Well, I know God loves me and I also know that God is not a jerk.  I have faith that all will be right in the end.  I have faith in the atonement, to heal all hurt and pain.  I have faith that He knows more than I do.  I know that I don't know everything, I am human.  We all are.   I know that there is no human alive that can comprehend the works and power of knowledge of God.  We earnestly make a lifelong effort to do so, and we are commanded to try to pattern our lives after our Savior.

HOPE
Sure I want to see incremental changes I am seriously stoked to receive more light and knowledge regarding women's priestesshood and Heavenly Mother and all that jazz, whenever it comes.   I know that we have very little knowledge about how things work in the next life (other than spread the Gospel, we do have that scripture).  I do know I will be happy, and I need to trust God.  I need to follow His plan for me.  I need to respond to promptings of the Spirit.   And other people need to respond to their promptings, and I have no idea what theirs look like.

I need to bring others to Christ.  Because I hope that's what I'm doing here.  Making a place that is safe to have questions, and leave it in the Lord's hands.  To trust Him.  I hope that's what I'm communicating.  And also to acknowledge that it is HARD.   Hard to live in this culture that tells you not to question, to be silent, to go away.   And also to show: have hope!  Change is trickling down, even if it took years to decide to put up a portrait of women, they did it!  Change is slow, especially in our organization.  So cling to your hope - and if you can't find a space for yourself, make one.  You belong here.

LOVE
It is okay to question, to want things to change, and usually we are brought to these views by something that hurt - that changed our minds and our hearts.  God has a role in these things.  We can feel our sadness and hurt, we can mourn that what we have now is not more - but we must bury our anger and bitterness at that funeral.  We can feel those feelings - but we must let them go.  Don't lose your passion and don't be silenced, but anger and hurt are never good motivations.  Love is.  In all things act in love, and find God's love in your life. 

I know that everyday I find happiness.  I find God's Love for me.  I find it in my expanding group of friends (yes this introvert is making friends).  I find it in tender mercies.  I find it in the budding flowers and the sunshine and the cuddles of my daughter and holding my friends' babies and warm socks.  I find happiness in my green apple carrot juice and my husband's five o'clock shadow and his kisses when he gets home from work.  I feel happy when I study my scriptures, I even feel happy struggling with messy topics and questions.  I feel happiness when I meet a friend online who has questions like mine, and we can strengthen each other and lift each other. 

And we all have a shared goal:  Zion.   We can't have Zion without each other, and we have got to give each other room to exercise our Agency, and work out our salvation before the Lord.  I know how to help people do this:  love them.  Commandment 1:  Love God.  Commandment 2: Love others.....not just those who are easy to love.  Those that are HARD to love. I need to soften my heart to those whom I find hard to love.  This is my challenge. 

 FairMormon, These Are Our Sisters
President Uchtdorf explains, “[W]hen it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and exclusively appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.” The Merciful Shall Obtain Mercy
I think we shouldn't apply this quote to others but to ourselves, I cannot see another person's heart when they say things online to me or stand in line at temple square - I need to let go of anger and bitterness towards others for their actions and words.
Church leadership has provided a number of examples of Christlike approaches, particularly that of Ruth M. Todd (Church Public Affairs) in her interaction with OW last October as they attempted to gain admission to the Priesthood session of General Conference.8  First, Sister Todd was clear in stating the Church’s position. She said, “This meeting is all about strengthening the men of our church, so this is no surprise to you, that we won’t be able to offer you a ticket or a place to see it…Millions of women in this church do not share the views of this small group that has come and organized this
protest today…And some of the members feel this is very divisive as well.”  Sister Todd then reached out with charity, saying, “Even so, these are our sisters, and we want them in our church. And we hope they find the peace and joy we all seek in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” She spoke directly with everyone she could, going down the line and taking them by the hand. She engaged them as individuals rather than as opponents or outsiders with the assurance, “I am so happy to know you…
Kylee Shields, sister to an Ordain Women member; I Am My Sister's Keeper
I understand having a difference of opinion (I have 5 fiercely opinionated sisters). I understand feeling content as a Mormon woman and not understanding why other Mormon women aren't. I understand being uncomfortable with what the Mormon Feminist women are feeling, doing, talking about, organizing, etc. What I don't understand is the hate.  I am my sister's keeper. It is my responsibility to hold her heart and be aware of her concerns. I may not understand why she decided to wear pants to church or why she wants to go to the Priesthood session, but I can certainly learn about her cause and concerns before I demonize her.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

OW and Gender, Part 4: Cultural Gender Identity

I've been thinking a lot lately about why people are SO deeply offended by Ordain Women.  I mean, there are some crazy things that some Mormons believe and we still welcome those members into orthodoxy.  For example, some people believe that polygamy is the status quo for eternity, and that as one young newlywed put it, "I can't wait til I have more wives so that when one is mad at me I can just go find comfort in another one." ugh, yuck.  I get that OW is vocal and you wish they would just shut up and go away, but even if they are less vocal and just blended in, they would still get this reaction from many members of the church:
Even though the definition of priesthood is keys, authority, and power from God (has nothing to do with gender) and even though throughout history the pattern of the priesthood eligibility has been one of steady expansion (I don't believe in a Church based on modern revelation that we have to assume all expansion is finished); this is what it comes down to:  in the modern Church culture, the identity of manhood is inextricably tied to the Priesthood.  The way a boy becomes a man is through priesthood patterns in our culture:   YM offices/quorums, stacking chairs, home teaching, phood session with other men and ice cream afterwards, missions, having others weep with emotion and gratitude for your faithfulness, etc.  Boys become men in our culture because of the priesthood -- they don't have the priesthood because they are men.  A male identity in our culture is inextricably tied in unnecessary ways to the priesthood, it has comixed in with the definition of mormon masculinity (cue Tim the Toolman Taylor grunts).  Whether right or wrong this is what Ordain Women is asking to change, these cultural traditions of gender identity, and we should acknowledge it as part of the conversation.   

It is not easy to be a man in this Church it's a lot of responsibility, and their path for life and most of their choices are already made for them: to be a good mormon man you do this, then this, then this, then mission, then marriage, then career, then provide, then father, etc.  They know exactly how they should  live to follow their plan on earth: the check boxes have been laid out before them.  Men are judged very harshly for varying from their check boxes.  I have heard family members express frustration at such harsh cultural consequences - even if they feel they have followed the Spirit in not walking the line.

A Christian man’s highest calling is not priesthood; a Christian man’s highest calling is to follow Christ.

It isn't easy to be a woman in this Church, it's a lot of responsibility, and women have a much more ambiguous path.  We only have two check boxes: marriage and children.  The focus of which has good and bad consequences.  As in my case, the over-emphasis in my life lead me to ignore God's will in my life in how I was to build His kingdom with all the talents and unique gifts He has given me.  There was only one way to be a good Mormon woman and all else was choosing the wrong!!   Those poor souls who are single or infertile - they just have to suffer through this life until they get their check boxes!  Those check boxes are the only thing that matters!!  And yet in my life, the atonement healed the hurt and pain of infertility when I was prompted to celebrate and embrace it -- to love that I get to follow God's plan for me a different way, and to reject the message that my Womanhood is found in wifehood and motherhood.  Those are very important ways to be a Woman of God, but is not how to define being a woman of God. 

In our modern Church we embrace religious complementarianism: which ties a female's identity and value only to that of a wife, mother, and homemaker (the 1950s June Cleaver).  The gender roles we currently have are not a result of ancient history of how the bible treated women (thank goodness):  Most do not want to return to a time when fathers owned their daughters and sold them to the highest bidder (Exodus 21:7; Nehemiah 5:5; Genesis 29:1–10),  when multiple wives and concubines were a part of everyday life (even for men of God like Abraham, Jacob, and David), when women were forbidden from owning property, when foreign virgins could be captured as spoils of war (Judges 21), when a woman’s lack of virginity could get her executed (Deuteronomy 22:11, Leviticus ).  We know we don't want to return to Biblical Womanhood, but even then If you follow the history of the Church, the scope of women has not always been so limited as it is now. And the timing of the rise of the complementarianism is exactly the same timing of the movement of Second Wave Feminism.

Here is where so many women get SO ANGRY.  Complementarianism is wonderful because it celebrates that a woman honors God in the home -- this is such a wonderful, beautiful, needed message.  Where the confusion comes in . . . is when it says that is the only acceptable way for a woman to honor God.  This is where I find Elder Christofferson's talk to be beautiful: because it doesn't say, women you have to only do one thing . . . it says, "women exercise moral authority in homes, classrooms, boardrooms, etc."
"A common refrain among Christians is that “motherhood is a woman’s highest calling.” I must have heard this 1,000 times growing up. While men can honor God in varying capacities through work, family, and ministry, a woman’s spiritual aptitude is measured primarily by her ability to procreate.  I understand that many pastors elevate motherhood in order to counter the ways contemporary culture often dismisses the value of moms. This is a noble goal indeed, and the Church should be a place where moms are affirmed, celebrated, honored, and revered....[yet]

A Christian woman’s highest calling is not motherhood; a Christian woman’s highest calling is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Dugger.  (Rachel Held Evans, Women of Valor)
Ruth is a beautiful example, because she was a foreign, dirt poor, single, childless, field gleaner who is praised for being a woman of valor before she ever married - eshet cheyil - just as our Proverbs 31 homemaker is.  Being a woman of valor is not what you do or what your role is -- it is who you are.  It is our character and virtues that define us and make us Women of God: honesty, chastity, faith, divine nature, knowledge, integrity, accountability, good works, humility, kindness, patience, diligence, charity, temperence, purity, modesty, meekness, discernment, cheerfulness, mercy, courage, brave, protective, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, love, etc.  These are all virtues that define our character.  {Tangent: quit using the word virtue as a euphemism for sexual purity.  It is a misuse of the word.}

You can be a woman of God as a homemaker or as a congresswoman.  As a former working mother myself -- working in no way lessened by focus, love, or dedication to my motherhood, it did broaden the definition of my womanhood.   Increased responsibility in my life did not lessen my motherhood -- it required that my husband and I, due to our circumstances (in following the family proclamation) adapt and find a way to continue to raise a family with a Christ-centered home that honored our fatherhood and motherhood.  This can be done in many ways, and it is important for us to consciously choose the way that works best for our family and own the consequences of this decision and honor and support others in their decisions. 

I do not mean to imply that men and women are exactly the same, but could we challenge ourselves to enlarge our vision?  That there can be more than one way to be a Good Mormon Man or Woman?  To realize that being a Mormon Male is more than Priesthood Holder; that Mormon Woman is more than Mother?  That if this idea is threatened it doesn't mean we value the priesthood or motherhood less?  Can we unlink our gender identities from a role we perform and link our value instead to being like Christ?  Who exhibited what we consider both masculine and feminine virtues (leadership and nurturing, strength and meekness, courage and submission) that both men and women should develop? 

OW and Gender, Part 3: Not Equality; Accountability

PRIESTHOOD

Here I think it's important to talk about what priesthood is.  I liked Sheri Dew's definition of it being the keys, authority, and power to act in God's name.  But there are two distinct and separate areas this power is exercised: ritually and administratively.  Most of my feelings on this matter are very well encapsulated by a post found here (On Being Needed Vs. Being Necessary), it has thoughts that I believe that most of the conversation going forward shouldn't be based on "equality" but on a fuller understanding and expression of "accountability and responsibility."   I'll quote and try to summarize below.

"In the Church, possession of priesthood is not solely about the proper legitimate performance of spiritual rites and ordinances, but also about the right to speak and be heard, the power to make decisions, to be endowed with full accountability and responsibility, not just at an individual level, but also at an institutional one. Lacking these things can and often does lead to the alienation and brokenness these women have experienced solely on account of their gender."

"New practices and policies.. could be instituted in order to improve women’s and girls’ experience in the Church.  But no matter how much women are included in general processes and individually listened to by priesthood leaders, the fact that they must be included and listened to in the first place demonstrates that, de jure and de facto, women stand outside all formal decision-making, at both the general and local levels."

"Our sisters, wives, daughters, and friends deserve to be represented at every level where they have a stake in ecclesiastical decisions and events that affect them..... Merely asking for the opinions of some women would not inform our response like having women with the power to shape and mold it alongside the men they work and serve with."

"Though we believe the Church was instituted by God and its leaders can and do receive divine guidance on its behalf, it is nevertheless a human institution run by and peopled by human beings. I think this is the underlying theological defense of the status quo, that if God wants something to change, God will simply see to it; therefore, the gender of the decision-makers is insignificant because, as stewards of God’s power, they will simply receive divine instruction and all will be well, all wounds will be eventually be healed, all problems resolved, in the Lord’s own time."

"However, priesthood does not make of its holders passive receptacles of constant streams of divine revelation, but makes them responsible to make decisions of their own will and wisdom, in hope of divine ratification. How can we not include women in this process? How can we not empower women as vessels of such responsibility? Women cannot be regarded as fully human until the full measure of responsibility and accountability is theirs. This is where the charged rhetorics of modesty, pedestalization, and singularity and specialness of gender are mutually embedded–in the wonderful-terrible blessing and burden of cultural, institutional, and religious responsibility and accountability, or lack thereof. This is also why the rhetoric of “equality” should be replaced with one of responsibility and accountability. Responsibility is what is really at stake with this kind of empowerment, and it is really what we mean by “equality.” Responsibility is the decisive and irrevocable difference between becoming angels or becoming gods."

"Cultural identity that Priesthood has produced is what really is at stake for both the men who balk at extending priesthood authority to women and the women who insist that they would never want priesthood–not really because they can’t imagine passing the sacrament or doing Tithing Settlement but because they don’t want to be men, full stop."  (PS this will all be addressed in Part 3!)

"But the institutional Church is nevertheless of vital importance to its members. It could never cause so much pain, joy, sense of community, and alienation if it were not. If there is another way to irrevocably and formally fold women into the decision-making process at the local and general levels, I’m all ears"

"Regardless of being able to show that women were once ordained at various levels (as can be more or less demonstrated in both Mormon and Christian history), that there is here and now a need that has gone unmet demands that we start doing things differently. If that means giving women the priesthood, I am in favor. If alternatively it means restructuring the priesthood so as to decouple it from administrative authority and limit its functions to more spiritual matters, thereby freeing women to participate administratively and have a voice of institutional power, I am in favor. If it means giving women a female priestesshood that is distinct from male priesthood but with equal and responsibilized authoritative stewardship, I am in favor. If it means not necessarily giving women priesthood but placing them on councils where they have a more equal say and vote, where they become systemically necessary and not merely appealed to if arbitrarily fortunate enough to have priesthood leaders who truly care about what they say, that is at least a leap forward. Even gradual changes in a direction that looks something like this are better than nothing. What matters is that women be empowered to speak and serve and bless in the religious community no less than their brothers. What matters is that when a woman speaks women and men should sit up and listen, not just because she might have priesthood or legitimate authority of some kind, but because there are no institutional barriers providing a convenient excuse not to listen to her. What matters is that building the kingdom of God is an effort that requires all of us in our full capacity, liberating us to use whatever talents we have at our disposal. There are so many women who are outstanding leaders in the workplace, but whose leadership isn’t nearly as vital in our ecclesiastical context. There are so many other women who could learn to be these outstanding leaders in a pastoral context if given the opportunity. What about women counseling with others about suffering, faithfulness, the temple, sexuality, etc? What about women feeling more capacitated to participate and contribute in a multitude of different ways? What about men and women together trying to figure out how to strengthen families while discussing what it could mean for men to be men and women to be women? How much closer to Zion could we leap then?"

"Most important here, though, is the increasing alienation so many women in the Church are feeling within the structure as it currently stands. A Mormon “priesthood of all believers” may not ultimately be the answer, but it is acutely appealing in fully responding to this growing alienation, because it makes precisely that structural change that would plug women fully into the heart of the life of the Church. Could Church leaders prayerfully enact something like this, something of which there would be divine approval? I think the answer is yes. Priesthood is a sacred God-given trust, not alone to passively listen for God’s will and carry it out but to freely use that power, the privilege God has given holders of the priesthood to righteously engage in service according to the stewardship they have been given."

"In the end this is an argument for formally and radically weaving women into the heart of the ebb and flow of Church life, giving them voices that are systemically necessary, a part of the conventional function of the Church, the equals of men in speech, institutional power, and responsibility. The current priesthood-driven structure seems to insist that ordaining women might be the only present way of really doing that,  though what seems paramount is ultimately seeing the realization of these fundamentally necessary goals, regardless if priesthood is the vehicle to make that happen."

I very much apologize for block quoting - but . . . he speaks what my heart feels. Please note that I don't place any timelines or stipulations on changes or improvements. . . But I agree with my cousin yesterday who commented 1) we discount how long God waits until the population is open to receive further revelation before giving it and 2) the doctrine of our Gospel and teachings in the temple whisper very much of a shared power dynamic.  Much of this belief comes from the commandment that we have to become ONE upon marriage.  The we have God the Father and God the Mother***** who are one  . . . I don't know when changes or revelation or anything will come.

But I do believe now is a good time to have respectful discussions about these issues - AND all voices should be included in these discussions.  This is not currently happening.  The scriptures are replete with examples of prophets questioning things they thought were always true (Nephi having to kill Laban) or prophets who wrestle with issues before God (Enos).  The scriptures teach me that questions and wrestling with them is okay.  That my faith has been strengthened and deepened through my questions and wrestling.  And everyone's path in faith back to God is different.  And we should respect each others' journeys.

*************The Reference for "God the Mother" is found in the comments below

OW & Gender, Part 2: Why I Disagree With Ordain Women

ORDAIN WOMEN

First of all, if you haven't yet, please go read Ordain Women's FAQ page and a handful of their profiles.  Now, whether you agree with these men and women or not, please acknowledge their bravery and courage for taking the risk of putting a profile up.  The consequences these faithful members face is real in their lives.....wowza, right?  Looking at those profiles, I am filled with a confirmation that these are my brothers and sisters sitting next to me in the pews and holding callings with me and leading and loving my children in their callings, etc.  I don't want them to leave!!

One of the reasons I am not an OW member is because I look around and see easy changes that could be made in the church organization via policy changes, I enumerated on some in my first blog post:  equal funding and structure of boys/girls programs, an improved conversation regarding modesty and sexuality in the Church, female representation on decision-making boards in the Church, eliminate gender restrictions on callings that have nothing to do with priesthood rituals: stake auditor, Sunday School presidency, etc.  These are specific issues that are important to me based on my life experiences as a Relief Society and Primary President and as an accountant.  Other women have other issues that are important to them.  To me these things seem like obvious, low-hanging fruit that may take years to change and have NOTHING to do with priesthood ordination, but if no one says anything about them, nothing will continue to be done.

For example, in Elizabeth Smart's advocacy for human trafficking and sexual abuse, "Smart said she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn't run because of that alone.  I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value."  She was referring to the abstinence only object lessons she received in the church (no one wants a licked cupcake, chewed up piece of gum, manhandled flower bud, or any other really poor, awful, objectifying things that equate a woman's value with her virginity).  Many people criticized her for publicly criticizing lessons she received in Church about her abstinence-only education that caused her harm.  But listen, if no one ever stands up and publicly talks about how "chewed up piece of gum" is a bad, harmful way to teach chastity -- we are still going to get people teaching those lessons. 

How Ordain Women sees things is this:  for decades Mormon feminists have been asking for the low-hanging fruit.  And they've been punished and excommunicated and marginalized for publicly advocating for things like: women praying in general conference.  So Mormon feminists can continue to just talk amongst each other -- but nothing will ever change until women are actually in a position to enact the changes.  They also reason that the MoFem community is alive and well on the internets, but if all we do is just talk on the internets nothing will happen - the Church has shown that they can easily ignore FeministMormonHousewives.org and let them have a community where the complain and explain and listen to others mansplain (ha!) and not really acknowledge their existence.  But the internet created tools of advocacy too, in the case of petitioning the Church for an official policy on menstruating women and Baptisms for the Dead (policies were all over the place and haphazardly enforced to the detriment of many women) or to the action of "Let Women Pray."  (How Social Media Revitalized and Enlarged a Movement, www.academia.edu).  Because of the historical precedent established between Mormon feminists and the church organization, Ordain Women strongly believes ordination is the only answer to solving many issues.  What they see is the Church becoming more like Zion.  They sincerely have this belief that it is the only way to move forward, I do not agree with them.  The public affairs letter referred to their end goal as non-negotiable, I think the Church would be surprised how many OW would go along with an alternate solution revealed from God.  And I disagree with the Public Affairs letter that since they have a certain opinion on the way forward, that their voice is damaging to the discussion (and shouldn't be listened to).  ALL voices should be a part of the discussion, yes even these OW ladies. 

TONE AND ACTION

Kate Kelly is the founder of Ordain Women, and I have found her to be a little rough around the edges.  I have seen her easily dismiss opposing opinions and not conduct herself in a . . . well, a way that we teach our women they should act, she's a bit brassy :-)   If I think about it I'm not surprised, a woman with enough chutzpah to start this thing has got to be filled with so much passion and determination and fearlessness that she's probably the only type of woman who could have done such a thing.  Kelly is a human rights lawyer, and she observed that when working towards rights that in Africa, action received a response.  When women had a peaceful protest and quietly asked for a right which they were due -- they ended up being handcuffed and dragged away.  But the thing that began changing minds is that the men having to drag these women away were now their friends, neighbors, and family members looking them in the eyes and seeing their pain: and they could no longer ignore those feelings, they had to be addressed.  So Kate comes from a political activist background which I believe frames what she does and the words she uses (ie Equality, more on that later).

There are many members of the Church who support women's ordination (many, many of them male) who are not members of OW.  They don't agree with how she does things either or how she responds to their suggestions or correction or criticism.   Most people who are in this camp also disagree with the actions the group takes.  For example, the peaceful "action" being held during Priesthood Meeting is a point of a lot disagreement.  I do not believe it is the best foot forward, but I can empathize with them and their pain -- and I do see OW as a group that needs to be included in conversations about women's issues.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ordain Women and Gender, Part 1: A Response to the Public Affairs Letter

I have had 48 hours to process The Church's Letter to Ordain Women.  As I have stated before, I am not a member of supporter of the movement, and I generally disagree with their tone and methods.  So as a non-OW Mormon Feminist, I'd like to share with you my perspective on some of the contents of the letter:
  1. You are a small minority and your position is extreme.   What does this have to do with the price of rice in China?  Is the fact that a smaller number of women have felt pain, marginalization, and sexism and has questions about policy and practice in the Church negate their experiences?  It's validity?  Do only the experiences of the majority matter?  And citing the Pew Study numbers are problematic, as the question it references is actually quite a loaded question in Mormon culture.  Again with marginalizing them into a fringe radical group.
  2. Your position detracts from the helpful discussions Church leaders are having with women in and outside of Church Leadership.  While I am not a member of OW, I do participate in WAVE (Women Advocating for Voice and Equality) and I'm A Mormon Feminist communities.  For years and years (chronicled back to its establishment almost 10 years ago) WAVE has sought a way to start a discussion between women who have issues with practice and policy in the Church and leadership.  They have been thwarted right and left, and told the only way to address the Church is through the proper structure: bishop, stake president.  Not one member of any of these groups has been allowed to speak to a leader of our Church with any influence or authority to affect any changes (above a SP).  In fact often many of these women have been released from callings and been given probationary status and punishments for meeting with leadership and discussing their concerns and views.  This has created a culture of fear of addressing these issues.  So, whatever conversations are actually happening with women in the Church, they are not with women who actually experience pain and marginalization and hold these actual concerns enough to belong to these communities.  It makes no sense to me to say, "We hear that some of you have issues, so we are only going to consult with women who don't have any issues in attempting to resolve them."  The reason Ordain Women is engaging the Church in a public manner is because they have asked and asked and asked for a meeting with leaders to discuss their concerns and all attempts at addressing these issues privately have been ignored.  There is a pattern established in scripture that members are able to petition their leadership to prayerfully ask questions of God on their behalf (Zelophehad's Daughters, basically all of D&C, etc.) and they are attempting to find a way to follow this pattern.  If the church has a problem with the publicity of it all -- it could easily be solved by making it a private matter of conversation.  Would there be harm in creating a Women's Group that discusses matters that has GAs on it, AND that has women that represent the full spectrum of Mormon Womanhood (Ordain Women, Non-OW Mormon Feminists, Non-Feminists who would like to see change, and Women who support the Status Quo). The reason the activism continues is because they have not been engaged, and the church has a history of directly engaging with marginalized members in the past (Genesis group), they just to refuse to do so in the instance of Mormon Feminism. 
  3. Ordination of Women will never happen.   Says who?  Even Elder Anderson, when addressing the question in Conference in October, said that we have no idea why things the way they are.  There certainly are enough indications in scripture and apocrypha (female priests and prophetesses), church history (Emma's ordaining, turning of keys to RS), GA quotes (McConkie on women among noble and great ones who created the world), and the temple (all genders are to prepare to officiate in the priesthood etc...are you not listening in the temple?) that make the matter quite complex.  Now I don't know when these revelations will be fulfilled or received - in this life or the next . . . but living in a certainty that we already have the answer actually precludes further revelation from being received. It IS a possibility.  A defining feature of our Church from all others is that we do not live by creeds.
  4. Attend the Women's Meeting.  I support a general women's meeting.  I don't think we should get rid of gendered spaces in the Church -- but if we have a women's meeting the other meeting should be called a general men's meeting.  Actual priesthood or even membership in the church has no bearing on if you are allowed to attend and enter -- just maleness, so call it what it is.**Ordain Women has stated if it were the General Men's Meeting there would be no reason for them to try to attend.  The only reason they are there is because it's advertised as a place for prospective priesthood holders to receive counsel from their prophets.**
  5. Take your protest to the free speech zone.  Ah, this broke my heart.  As Uchtdorf indicated, we are to respect all honest seekers of truth.  Whatever your opinion of these women, I invite you to see them as your sisters and not as enemies.  Sisters in need of comfort and a listening ear and love.  Sisters who have questions.  It is not a crime to have questions.  Again, reread Uchtdorf - they are welcome with us.  I do not see anything in OW plans that is not peaceful.  It certainly is uncomfortable for the Church and public relations to have to turndown a crying woman asking for entrance into an overflow location with standby tickets even though there was room for them.  What would really be the harm of publicly stating, "Sisters, we disagree with you insistently.  But of course if there are extra seats in the back of the Tabernacle overflow after all men are seated we will let you enter."  Their mere presence would not "destroy" the meeting if people are in tune with the Spirit, any more than a man or husband being granted entrance into the Women's Meeting to sit on the back row would destroy the meeting.  I agree with the quotes in the SL Tribune article:
           The church "has regretfully upped the ante," says Steve Evans, a Salt Lake City attorney and Mormon blogger. "The repeat of last year’s activity was not destined to gain as much press as before, but now things have changed. If it not only refuses entry to these women but also forces them off of Temple Square, the church may inadvertently send the message that it feels threatened by the Ordain Women movement."  Mormons need to see that their church "is open to serious, faithful conversation about the role of women in God’s organization," says Evans, a founder of the LDS blog, By Common Consent. "This response probably sends the wrong message."

           It’s also a "PR disaster for the church," says Kristine Haglund, editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. "Goliath is never going to get better press than David — the optics are terrible."  And unnecessary, she says, given that Ordain Women had announced that April’s conference would be the second and final time the group planned to seek priesthood tickets.
I want to challenge every person who disagrees with OW not to think of them as enemies, but as sisters.  Sisters that you have been commanded to love and comfort.  The relegating of women with questions who are seeking ways to engage the leadership of the church to the status of anti-mormon, garment burning protesters . . . it hurts me deeply.  Because while I am not a member of OW -- I am like them.  I have questions.  I hope for change and engagement and to be listened to by leadership.  I am like them.  I have seen them called apostate and I personally have been called apostate as well.  While I cannot speak for all of OW, at first when I was antagonistic towards them I despised their existence.  And then I sought to understand them.  I engaged them online and listened to their experiences via podcasts and posts.  I heard their hearts and understood, yet felt the Spirit confirming a different answer for me. So who are these so called apostates that everyone enjoys hating on? 

Mormon feminists are not exclusively female; 19 percent of those surveyed were male.  Seventy-nine percent were aged 40 or younger.  Ninety-five percent lived in the US, and 91 percent identified as Caucasian.  Eighty-one percent attended church three times per month, and 70 percent currently hold a calling.  Eighty-seven percent reported having been baptized at the standard age of eight years.  Seventy-seven percent reported levels of belief that were consistent with those of mainstream Mormonism.  Ninety-one percent of married Mormon feminists were married in an LDS temple, a sign of faithfulness and orthopraxy.  The majority of respondents were parents (62 percent).  Fifty-nine percent believe that women will be ordained in this life or the next, a further 26 percent believe that women already hold the priesthood, and 16 percent believe that women will never hold the priesthood. (I Am A Mormon Feminist", 2013 Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion)

From Joseph Smith:
“I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like Methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled.” [2]  WoJS, 183-84.
 This is not an instance to celebrate the separating of wheat from the chaff, as I've seen in family members and on online forums.  This may not be a test for Ordain Women.  This may be a test for us as how we respond to them.  Does not the Lord leave the 99 to seek after the 1?  Yes, the Lord would comfort them and weep with them.  Of this I am sure.

I am sure because Jesus wept with Mary.  In John 11 Lazarus had died and Jesus was returning to help.  Mary went out to meet Jesus:

 32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
 35 Jesus wept.

You see, Jesus already knew Lazarus would rise from the dead.  Could he have upbraided Mary for lacking faith?  For not already seeing the end from the beginning?  Or did he feel her pain and share her sorrow.  He wept.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On Being Divisive and Becoming One

I've mentioned before that one of my passions is for unity in the Church.  I've posted that's one of the reasons I have real concerns about Ordain Women, is that it seems a breeding ground for contention. I'm going to come out and change my stance.  Because in the last six months I've studied so intently in and out of the temple and had such wonderful spiritual experiences, especially with my husband in the celestial room, that were prompted because of Ordain Women and the questions and discussion they are raising.  I no longer begrudge their existence.  I do think it makes my job harder, as a moderate mormon feminist, advocating for policy changes instead of ordaining women.  But I think they need to be there, even if I don't agree with their actions or their tone. 

And it starts me thinking about our commandment to become one, as the Body of Christ.  I cited that in my newspaper article in the Standard Journal.  Unity does not equal uniformity.  How can we become Zion?  By everyone exercising their free agency in only the way that makes you comfortable?  Is it possible that by having diverse opinions and thoughts and perspectives on how we are to build Zion, that it strengthens the church.  Are people who are different only welcomed in our culture and in our Church, so long as eventually they step in line and act and think and dress like the majority?Elder Uchtdorf says, "Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church." 


As a Mormon Feminist, I often end up sharing my opinions that may be different than others'.   I often am told that I shouldn't care about the things I care about, that I'm looking beyond the mark, that I'm being ungrateful, that I don't value what I've been given, or that I should just focus on loving and serving others (as if my having a different opinion on Mormon culture or church policy makes it so I'm not loving and serving others).  I've also been told I should just keep my questions, experiences, and opinions private - that putting them in public is dangerous and wrong, mostly because it shows that a member of the church doesn't agree with how some things are being done.  That I'm disagreeing.  And we shouldn't disagree in public. 

Rachel Held Evans, an Evangelical Feminist, does the same thing in a much more widespread manner than myself, she has her own post up about how she is accused of being divisive all the time, below I've quoted my favorite part of her response.  Please go read it in its entirety at the link above:
But when I began writing about gender equality in evangelicalism, it became apparent to me that no matter how careful my tone, no matter how reasoned my arguments, no matter how gentle my critique, my work would inevitably be characterized as “divisive.”
“How dare you challenge a man of God?”
“The world can’t see us disagreeing like this; it hurts our witness.”
“We should be talking about more important matters.”
“Let’s just focus on what we agree on and let these minor issues go.”
“Can’t this be settled privately and not publicly?”
"You need to calm down and stop being so emotional."
“Stop being so divisive. Jesus wants us to be unified.”
One of the easiest ways to discredit another Christian is to label their questions, concerns, or calls for justice as too "divisive."  I don’t like being divisive. Believe me. But I don’t like being silenced either.  There has to be a way to discuss controversial, difficult topics—even on social media—without resorting to outright hostility on the one hand or sanctimonious silencing on the other.  And I wonder if it begins with acknowledging that friction doesn't mean division.   We Christians suffer under this rather fanciful notion that no one in the early church ever argued about anything, that the first disciples of Jesus sat around singing hymns and munching on communion bread, nodding along in perfect agreement about how to apply the teachings of Jesus to their lives.  But the epistles would suggest otherwise. 
The epistles would suggest that when you throw together a group of people from vastly different ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds there is going to be some serious friction. Within the early church raged debates over everything from the application of the Mosaic law, to whether Christians should eat food offered to idols, to how to handle the influx of widows in the church, to disagreements around circumcision, religious festivals, finances, missions, and theology.
So when Paul urged the Ephesian church to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” he followed this with an acknowledgement of the Church’s diversity, in which there are “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers…so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
This Body is still growing, so there will be growing pains. 
But if we love one another through these growing pains, “then we will no longer be infants…instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
I suspect Paul combined this call for the Body’s unity with an acknowledgement of the Body’s diversity because he knew that unity isn’t the same as uniformity.
We’re not called to be alike; we’re called to love.
We’re not called to agree; we’re called to love.
We’re not even called to get along all the time; we’re called to love each other as brothers and sisters, as people united in one baptism, one communion, one adoption.
Maybe we need these differences to be animated, to be alive, to mature. Maybe friction isn’t a sign of decay, but of growth.
The world is certainly watching. But this doesn't mean we hide our dirty laundry, slap on mechanical smiles, and gloss over all the injustices and abuses, conflicts and disagreements, diversity and denominationalism present within the Church;  it means we expose them. It means we talk about them boldly and with integrity, with passion and with love. I suspect that talking about our differences is better for our witness than suppressing them, and I'm sure that exposing corruption and abuse is better for our witness than hiding them.
And when it comes to injustice, a far more important question to me than "What will the world think if they see us disagreeing?" is "What will the world think if they don't?"
I love that last line.  What will the world think of us if we are always of one opinion, thought, perspective, and dress?  It may not reflect our doctrine that free will is our most important gift that we treasure above all else.  If we create circumstances where there is only one way to be a good mormon, to use your free will in only one acceptable way, I believe that is when we may be looking beyond the mark.  This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  All are loved and welcomed at the table. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What is Feminism? Part 1: The Waves of History

Don't run, it's okay to learn about the history of feminism without you catching the "feminism" virus.   Historical feminism has been categorized into 3 waves.   I think it's important to note that not all players in the history of feminism claimed the term (as it was first suggested derogatorily) and in every era feminists have disagreed about the whys and hows of issues and activism. 

First Wave Feminism:  1800s - Early 1900s
Jane Austen could be considered a precursor to the feminist movement for her work in popularizing the social critique of limited choices available to women.  During this era industrialization and global politics came to the forefront and informed the movement.  The main goals were to create more opportunities for women and to gain suffrage.  In addition to fighting for the right to vote, they also fought for the right to an education, the right to work, the right to work safely, the right to the money they earned when they worked, the right to a divorce, and the right to not be property of their fathers or husbands or lose their children in marital conflicts.  First wave feminists were also very active in abolition and temperance.  This period is where women would be the "firsts": first female reporter, Nellie Bly; first female doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell; etc.   The right to vote was granted in the 19th amendment in 1920.  This period of feminism is probably taken for granted; most women who "hate feminism" would shudder at the thought to give up the rights gained during this period. 

Second Wave Feminism:  1960s - 1980s
This period was one of anti-war and civil rights movements, where I think the movement was being overshadowed and women became a little more radicalized to be heard.  This wave fought for equal pay, equal hiring opportunities, rights to contraception/abortions***, for divorce, a right to property in the case of a divorce, and the right to have marital rape be outlawed.  They established "women's studies" programs in academia.  They staged a counter-protest at the 1968 & 1969 Miss America Pageant where, "feminists parodied what they held to be a degrading "cattle parade" that reduced women to objects of beauty dominated by a patriarchy that sought to keep them in the home or in dull, low-paying jobs.(1)  Many militant and radicalized feminists looked down on women and mothers who were traditional and stayed home.  Four legal wins for the 2nd wave include the outlaw of marital rape, the pregnancy discrimination act of 1978, Title IX (1972), and Title VII (1964).  They failed to pass the  ERA amendment: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."  Opposition argued that this would eliminate the all male draft.  The STOP ERA leader "Schlafly defended traditional gender roles and would often heckle feminists by opening her speeches with quips like "I'd like to thank my husband for letting me be here tonight." (2)  They argued legal protection for women under the law would destroy the family and even eliminate the existence of single-sex bathrooms.  p.s.  traditional Mormons, here is the feminism you love to hate.  Many in the church associate the word feminist with negative connotations from this era as well as the Church's active campaign against the feminists ERA amendment. 

Third Wave Feminism:  1990s - ??
Third wave feminism is often seen as a response and push-back against some second-wave principles.  Sometimes they love lipstick, high-heels, cleavage which the first two waves identified with male oppression.  "Pinkfloor expressed this new position when she said; "It's possible to have a push-up bra and a brain at the same time."(3)  This wave focuses less on laws and politics and more on individual identity and choices - realizing there are many different backgrounds and many different ways to be a woman, it challenges the assumption there is a universal way to be a 'good woman.'  "It allows women to define feminism for themselves by incorporating their own identities into their belief system of what feminism is and what it can become."(4) This wave challenges stereotypes in the media, words used to describe gender, rape culture, gender expectations, body image issues, institutionalized patriarchy, etc.  This wave also attempts to avoid "us-vs.-them mentalities" thus often avoiding the label of feminist themselves.  Often described today feminism is the radical notion that women are people, too.

Historical Perspective
Throughout the history of the world, power had been held by those with the most strength.  World history is basically a story of one empire becoming stronger than another and defeating it.  Because strength = power, men did have all the power, decision making, access to education, etc. which consolidated their power.  Survival in past society was dependent upon using the strength of men:  it is true that men were the hunters, warriors, builders, farmers in the fields, etc.  Families needed the muscles of men to provide and protect them.  In today's society providing for oneself and protecting oneself is no longer dependent upon muscles and strength, but brains and talent.  The historically weak (women) are no longer kept from literacy and education, which are keys to success in today's world.  A woman no longer *needs* to stay at home and be the one cooking and cleaning to survive.  For the first time in history, success and survival are not dependent upon your role or your gender.  There has been a great equalization, and those in power will always be reluctant to give up their hold on it. 

What will the world look like in the future where more of the leaders of the business and political world are women?  I don't know but I look forward to it.  Based on some gender studies I read about in the book The Big Short about the global meltdown, females take less risks and have a buy-and-hold strategy.  So female-led investment banks didn't take during the financial crash because they never fell for the lies of easy money.  There would also be less wars and government shutdowns  (Women the Only Adults Left in Washington, TIME)  as women are more likely to reach across the aisle and negotiate. 

I think it's important to note that in the history of the world women have only been allowed to vote in (arguably) the most free country on the planet for less than 100 years.  For less than 100 years (and only in the most democratic countries) have women not been considered the property of men.  I get a little confused when people talk about how feminism is bad and we don't need feminism.  Does gender inequality and sexism still exist?

Have you seen the latest RAINN statistics, 97% of rapists are never prosecuted?  That the Stubenville rapists were defended by everyone in town?  That teenage sexual assault is written off as a prank?  Are women starving themselves with eating disorders because of body image issues?  Are women equally and fairly represented in media?  Do they continue to be objectified by others (ex. porn) and ourselves? Could we attempt to get more momentum for family friendly employment policies?

Pause for a moment.  Have I said anything about how they hate men?  How they think they are stupid and worthless?  That men and women are the same?  Sure, some feminist thinkers despise men and motherhood.  Some feminist thinkers love men and motherhood.  Some feminist thinkers are vegans and some eat Paleo.  Some feminists thinkers support gay marriage, some don't.  Some feminist thinkers are man-loving stay-at-home mothers who honor womanhood and cherish motherhood (hi! that's me!).

Keep that in mind as you read in part 2 about Modern American & Global Feminism.
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Read more:
What are the Three Waves of Feminism?, Ehow
Feminism, New World Encyclopedia
353 Feminist Glossary
(2) ERA, Wikipedia
(4) Being Feminist Blog
(1)(3) The Three Waves of Feminism, Pacific.edu 

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