Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Never Would Have Known

I have written before about feminist topics, and it's no secret that while I feel compassion for the women who have suffered because of the ignorance of men (and women) in the Church, I have been completely unimpressed and sometimes annoyed by the Mormon feminist movement.

Today, my feelings changed.

I have never been particularly concerned about what it meant to be a woman. I loved the Young Women's organization but was excited to be a member of the Relief Society where I could mingle with woman of all ages and learn from their wisdom. I knew that I had a lot to learn from such amazing women, women I wanted to be like - but if you had asked me what it meant to be a woman I wouldn't have been able to tell you. I may have said something involving service and motherhood and Relief Society, but I doubt I would have said anything about the priesthood, and I probably wouldn't have said anything about Heavenly Mother (although I was firmly convinced of her existence and love for me - as a lover of the hymns, my favorite lines of "O, My Father" are the ones that mention her - "Truth is reason, truth, eternal, tells me I've a mother there" and "Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?").

Then the Relief Society published the book Daughters in My Kingdom. At first I didn't read it. In fact, I  only briefly leafed through the pages. I was a busy mother of small children, and reading a book about the Relief Society didn't really interest me at the time.

But then something stirred in me.

Image Credit: epSos.de
I think it was around the time of the General Relief Society broadcast in September 2011, although my heart was being prepared during perhaps the year before that as I talked to my sister about starting a blog for LDS women, with authors in all walks of life - young women, young wives with children, young wives without children, those who had adopted, those who were infertile, older women, working moms, stay at home moms, retired mom, older women who had never married or had children. I envisioned a Zion for women.

Then I started searching for blogs for LDS Women. I eventually found and fell in love with Heather's blog, Women in the Scriptures, among others, but in my searching I also stumbled across some not-quite-what-I-was-looking for blogs. Like Feminist Mormon Housewives, and Mormon Mommy Wars, to name a few. As I read what other women were writing I realized that there were women who didn't understand what it meant to be a woman in the Church, and I found myself wondering if I really knew what it meant.

That was when something stirred in me.

I wanted to know, really know, what it meant to be a woman, a daughter of God. I knew what it meant to be a mother - I had been preparing for that my entire life. But I wasn't sure I knew what it meant to be a woman.

About the same time I was going through this quest for an understanding of womanhood, the Mormon feminist movement gained momentum. I am pretty sure a large part of that was fueled by questions about Mormonism surrounding the United States presidential primaries, since one of the most likely candidates was a Mormon. But every time I turned around, people were talking to women like Joanna Brooks - disillusioned, non-practicing Mormon women who had been hurt and oppressed by unrighteous men in their lives, and were taking out their frustration and anger on the Church. I became increasingly frustrated and annoyed with their presence in the media and their criticism of Church leaders. Where were the women like me?

Over the past few years I have learned a lot about what it means to be a woman. Most of my new understand has come, ironically, through discussion and articles prompted by the Mormon feminist movement. Today I realized that most of the things that I have learned and the perspectives I have gained I can attribute directly to the Mormon feminist movement - either because something they said prompted my own fierce studying of a topic, or because of the responses of other women who understand what it means to be a woman.

So, in hindsight, I am grateful for all the feminist commotion because of the things I never would have known.

Have you learned things because of something that originally annoyed or frustrated you? Has someone else's questions or concerns about the gospel prompted you to study the gospel more fervently, and resulted in a greater understanding?


  1. Thank you for your wonderful insights. I have been pondering these same questions for the last few years. Recently I have found myself caught between two of my dear friends that each feel that I need to be made over in their image. They do not realize we are already made in someones image and it has divine qualities. I am happy as I am and glad to expand my understanding of what Father in heaven expects of me personally and all of us as a whole. So thank you for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to them.

  2. What an interesting journey, thanks for sharing that. To describe my own journey I would probably say "what a long strange trip its been". I too am grateful for the Mormon Feminist Movement. For me it offered a safe place where I finally felt welcome. I don't agree with everything I read coming from those who identify as LDS Feminists, but then I don't necessarily agree with everything anyone says. I feel much the same way that you do in that a lot of what I have read has caused me to really think, and study things that I may not have, things that hadn't necessarily occurred to me. So it sounds like we both ended up at the same destination we just got there in different ways. I think that the gospel does this for a lot of us. To me it is more evidence that the Lord loves us and he knows us, he REALLY knows us and he wants us to learn things. If we open ourselves up to that guidance we will find our way, and what a wonderful feeling it is when we do. I am so grateful for free agency and choice, at the same time I know that the Lord wants us to make the right choices. I've always felt like he, and our heavenly Mother, have a plan B, plan C, plan BC-1001, etc., they are always there to redirect us when we slip up. We also may be part of that plan B for when someone else makes the wrong choice. We're all on this journey taking different paths to the same destination aren't we? Thanks again for sharing that!

  3. Thanks for blogging about this topic. I have viewed the blogs you are talking about in the past when I was on searches to connect with our LDS women. Living in the South, we have to cling to other LDS women so I was venturing out. I was rather shocked, my eyes opened to some ideas the ladies had. My husband has always been supportive, I work full time and he encourages me to go back to school. I manage the finances and we have equal duties. I have always felt like we are a TEAM. I'm the only member in my family, so when I read these women's thoughts, to be honest, I thought wow quit nitpicking! But then I learned about various topics and my views became more loving and kind. I personally have never felt like I was oppressed, although sadly I have seen other women in the church with chauvinist men, but is that a Southern thing or a Mormon thing?! Or is it a boundary thing, I know some women just don't say NO enough and become doormats....
    There's my rant for the evening :)


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