Thursday, July 26, 2012

Feminist Mormons

          These past few years, I have been noticing an unusual phenomenon - the presence of liberal feminist Mormon women.  Between Feminist Mormon Housewives, The Exponent, and Joanna Brooks, there is a faction of women within the church that are laying claim to their right to be liberal and Mormon.  And I am very grateful for the work of these courageous women, as they are fighting to create a place for my mother and sister, who are liberal Democrat Mormon women with careers.  
          When I was a Mormon, I knew many fantastic women, my mother being one of them.  But most of them were very quiet about their convictions.  My mother is a Democrat, one who has hinted at pro-gay marriage and pro-choice convictions.  She is my mother and I love her with a fierce conviction.  Touch a hair on my mother’s head and I will eviscerate you.  I am grateful to the courageous women that are working within the Church to make life better for my mother.  
          This rise of feminist women within the Church is forcing me to re-evaluate my precise reasons for leaving the Mormon Church.  It is true that I felt like I was being forced into a box that did not fit - marriage, children, homemaking.  The thought of my future as a Mormon woman filled me up with terror.  What if I had stayed and become part of the feminist Mormon movement?  Would that have been an acceptable compromise between my personal convictions and the rigid intolerant faith I was raised in?  What if I had stayed and fought the good fight?
          The more I examine my convictions, the more I realize that the narrow mold of life as a Mormon woman was not my only reason for leaving.  The core reason for my departure from the Mormon Church is simple.  I do not believe the Mormon Church is true.  I do not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  I do not believe the Book of Mormon is true.  I cannot support the current authorities in good faith.  
         Post-Mormonism, as I have examined my convictions, I have arrived at the conclusion that I am an agnostic atheist with humanist tendencies.  I don’t know if there is a god or not; I suspect there isn’t.  In the meantime, I take comfort in the basic goodness of humanity - people are capable of amazing things.  And for me, this is enough.  I will live the best life I know how and find joy in the tiny beautiful things.  


  1. I've wondered similar things in the past few years as I've read fMh and other blogs of women who are faithful and forward-looking. I wonder if, at the time just before I left, I had known any women like these, or had had the idea to be one myself, if things would have been different. I don't know if it would have been enough.

    1. I know, it is something to think about. But the overwhelming sense I get is that their efforts are just a drop in a bucket. I'm very glad they are doing the work they do but I don't think it would have been for me. I don't mind being a fighter but I need to believe in what I am fighting for and the belief in Mormonism just wasn't there.

  2. Are there any major ways the Mormon feminists differ from non-Mormon feminists?

  3. I think that it really depends on how academically you define feminist. I grew up with a lot of strong examples of women who were church members, but still very independent both financially, politically and how they work within the LDS community to do what they thought was the right thing to do. My mother used to tell me that there were only three things you needed to change something in
    any organization:

    1) Know what you want changed and be able to clearly explain the what and why of the change you want.

    2) Know your role and position, and always start with approaching a supervisor or organization leader to voice your "concern." that supervisor should never be "skipped over" because as your boss may be able to give advice or insights you need, and advice on which people are most likely to be open to listen to you and your concerns. You need to find ways to solve a common problem, and working towards a common goal. By asking for the right people to give you advice, you are creating a large group of allies, using *soft influence* - which means, creating allies who have higher rank or a larger sphere of influence, and who are emotionally invested in "their idea" for fixing your shared goal(s). If those allies are enthusiastic they will discuss the concern, and the ideas about how to "fix it," with others iand take and ward leaders. When the idea gets attributed to the person you talked with, the solution gains more clout. Although this soft influence may take some time, if lots of influencial people are advocating for the idea, your *something* has a better chance of happening, or not happening.

    3) Leave the ultimate decision, and the responsibility, to those who have the authority to make it. Soft influence isn't compatible with going on the attack. If you can't live with a few decisions you don't agree with, then it is probably an organization that isn't right for you. There is no shame in saying, "I thought that I would enjoy this group. I didn't. I tried to influence people to change a few things I found untenable and those things have not changed. Given how I think and feel about this group, I can't, in good conscience stay."

    I am not saying that there aren't reasons to attack a person or organization, but for changing one from the inside out requires either patient "soft influence," or a bloody coup. Not being a fan of bloodshed, I admit to strongly advocating non-violent options if you decide to stay.

    I have doubted that the LDS church is the restored gospel, and eacb time has brought me out of each struggle with a stronger testimony. So I continue to work on changing those things I can. If you do not believe that a church, or any other organization is wrong, then staying just to try to change it, would end up taking away your dignity. I believe that the church can and will continue to evolve, but my relationship with Christ is what keeps me here.

    If YOU don't believe in Christ, God, or the LDS church, then your choices are aligned perfectly with your beliefs. ;-)

    1. I'm not a fan of bloodshed either. :-) And I'm really glad to see you have such a mature and thoughtful perspective to add.

      Try and recover soon!

  4. I had someone, on another blog, accuse me of taking all the fun out of huge "comment battles" by clearly stating what I thought both sides were saying, and getting down to the one thing they really disagreed on, and that since both sides seemed to agree (in many comments from both sides) that they were not ever going to agree on it. I have also occasionally been accused of thinking before I type, so that it is hard to get mad at a well thought out opinion that allowed for other experiences. Apparently trying to understand people "takes all the fun out of fighting.". Several times I have used that when they ask me what my biggest strength and weakness were.

    :-) ;-)

  5. I followed the link, FMH doesnt seem to have a mission statement and I couldnt disern any kind of ideals from the few blog entries I skimmed.

    Like wise the exponent doesnt really seem to have any sort of mission satement, the posts seem more . . . critical of the church. But no more so than any of the complaignts Ive heard wispered by men in the halls of the church as well. Though that it highlights things from a womans point of veiw is an interesting perspective

    None of these websites has any core ideals or beliefs laid out where they can be easily seen, or any plans on how to lead, or form, or even participate in any sort of movement. I appreciate they are trying to air their problems that they feel preisthood holders arent recognising

    I'll let you in on a secret, they dont do a whole hell of a lot to address the problems men bring to them either.

    But I dont see how they are planning to effct any change

    1. You bring up a good point in that there doesn't seem to be much of a plan to change things. But I do think that talking about issues in a public forum is the first step to effecting change and there is a lot more openness about these issues than what was the case 10 or 20 years ago.

    2. I dont know, it looked more to me(aside from a very few exceptions) like a typical apologetics website where such behavior was explained justifyed or outright forgiven without any effort at all

    3. The posts vary wildly in tone depending on the writer and can be apologetic at times. But if you consider the September Six, along with Mitt Romney's harassment of the earlier Exponent Women, I do think this is progress.

      If you haven't already seen it, I would recommend reading this article


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