Suffragettes

I find it interesting that the most strident anti-feminists in the LDS Church are, in my experience, women — but this was not always so. A survey of even the broadest and most available literature makes this abundantly clear.

While the Church was disenfranchised and impoverished under the Edmunds-Tucker Act, mormon women were at the forefront of the suffrage movement and played a major role in advancing equal rights for men and women. The Utah Woman Suffrage Association, founded by Emily Richards (plural wife of Franklin D.), coordinated with the Relief Society to establish local women’s rights associations throughout Utah, using the Exponent as a major publishing platform. [1] The melding of everyday worship and zeal for equal rights is apparent in a contemporary suffrage song, sung to the tune of ‘Hope of Israel':

Freedom’s daughter, rouse from slumber;
See, the curtains are withdrawn,
Which so long thy mind hath shrouded,
Lo! thy day begins to dawn.
Woman, ‘rise! thy penance o’er,
Sit thou in the dust no more;
Seize the scepter, hold the van,
Equal with thy brother, man. [2]

Despite external and internal opposition (via B.H. Roberts and others), the work of Emmeline Wells, Jane and Emily Richards, Zina Young, Margaret Caine and others bore fruit at the Utah constitutional convention in 1895, with these simple sentences:

The rights of citizens of the State of Utah to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this state shall enjoy equally all civil, political and religious rights and privileges.

[3]

Arguably, statehood marked the apex of a golden age for women in the Church. Women occupied positions of social and ecclesiastical power that have not since been replicated, and enjoyed pre-eminence in the arts and sciences. Within a few decades of the passage of the Utah Constitution, the Woman’s Exponent would cease publication, the Relief Society’s role as an independent body would be dramatically reduced, and the Church would return to its quasi-Victorian roots.

———————————–

[1] “Women’s Suffrage,” entry in Utah History Encyclopedia (citing Elizabeth Cady Stanton, et al, eds., History of Woman Suffrage).

[2] Reprinted in The Mormon Experience, Arrington & Bitton, p. 229.

[3] Constitution of the State of Utah, Article IV, Section 1.

Comments

  1. California Condor says:

    Well, okay, but did women speak in General Conference in 1895? Also, don’t overlook Sheri Dew’s post as CEO of Deseret Book. I don’t think a woman would have been in charge of an LDS book publiser in 1895.

  2. Don’t forget Martha Cannon who defeated her own husband to be elected the first female state senator!

    California, I am not so certain that a woman couldn’t have run a Church-affiliated press.

  3. LOL. CC, I stand corrected. Please ignore this entire post.

  4. btw, I love that song, even if it has a bit of Eve bashing in it.

  5. CC,
    As to your #1, I have no idea, but someone with knowledge will chime in soon, I’m sure.

    As to #2, why not? Women in Utah in 1895 were doctors. They published magazines. They were active suffregettes. While I don’t know if they would have been CEO of a publishing company affiliated with the Church, I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be.

  6. I think in terms of women speaking of General Conference, it didn’t happen until the early 1980s? I seem to remember Justin finding the exact talk in another thread …

    But we’ve come a long way since 1895! Women now give 5% (2/39) of the talks during General Conference weekend!

  7. I have a question about this topic.

    Is it fair to compare the LDS Suffragettes to the current crop of LDS Feminists?

    I think they are apples to oranges. For one the S. of old seemed to have ecc. backing. Currently there is no such backing from SLC for modern faminists.

    Comments?

  8. bbell,
    I think it’s fair to say that there are significant differences between the philosophies of early and modern Mormon feminists, but there are a lot of similarities as well. Apples and oranges, maybe, but both still decidedly fruit. (or is that fruity?)

  9. bbell, is the comparison fair? That’s an interesting question. Certainly in terms of directed political agenda, etc., there are significant differences. But I don’t see ecclesiastical “backing” as an inherent difference between contemporary feminism and the suffragettes, nor do I think it accurate to broadly state that there is no backing from Church authorities for modern feminism. It is also a bald mis-statement to say that the suffragettes had ecclesiastical backing — indeed many proponents of statehood felt that female voting would be a hindrance to the larger goals.

    It would be more useful to talk about the methods and purposes of the two time periods rather than simply focus on which one had the stamp of approval from the COB. Twisting history and contemporary analysis to deal purely on with this aspect doesn’t get us anywhere.

  10. StillConfused says:

    When a man gives birth, I will want more responsibilities in the Church. Until then, I am perfectly cool with how things are now.

    p.s. typically the women talks at GC are in that annoying “primary voice” and I have to put them on mute anyway. Exception was the gal at the last GC — she was cool.

  11. bbell, they most assuredly did not have ecclesiastical backing. There were some supporters of women’s right to vote among the Brethren, but many of them only supported it because allowing LDS women to vote would ensure that Mormon voters would outnumber Gentiles. There were plenty of folks who ardently opposed women’s suffrage (including plenty of women–ERS, for instance, was silent or ambivalent on the subject).

    The major difference, it seems to me, is that different opinions about women’s proper roles or the political means to achieve those ideals was not viewed as a reflection of one’s righteousness or unrighteousness, and expressing a minority political opinion did not open one to speculation about one’s secret sins.

  12. StillConfused, I’m a little mystified by your comment. First, you draw upon the old chestnut of equating responsibilities in the Church with child-rearing, which I don’t think is applicable here. Then after saying you’re cool with how things are now, you talk about putting female GC speakers on mute. I guess I don’t know what it is you’re trying to say, really.

  13. Still Confused, I take exception to the phrase “primary voice”. I prefer you said they were using their “inside voices”.

  14. It’s interesting to think about how the place of women in the Church changed as polygamy was being phased out and as we tried to become a mainstream church instead of a regional sect. Lots of ironies.

  15. StillConfused says:

    Seriously, does anyone else find the primary voice / inside voice irritating?

  16. No more irritating that referring to President Julie Beck as a gal.

  17. I’m noticing more people referring to the current RS president as “President ___” rather than “Sister ___”, as was the case with previous RS presidents.

    1) Is this really the case, or is it just me?

    2) If there really is something to this, why is it? Did Beck’s recent General Conference talk somehow “earn” our respect more than the talks of previous RS presidents?

  18. JimD,

    I can’t speak for anybody else, but I started to use that title for women who are auxiliary presidents after I read that book by Elder Ballard about working in councils. He recommended that the female auxiliary leaders take a more active role in ward council, welfare meeting, etc., and that they deserve the respect that the title confers.

  19. Steve, I’d be really interested in what you think would qualify as institutional/ecclesiastical support for modern feminism.

  20. Steve Evans says:

    Ann, that’s a toughie. Certainly we cannot look to modern politics as indicators — the Church did not support the feminism behind the ERA. But at the same time, we can see some comparative support for women in the Church, for example in the forms of our policy on abortion (more feminist than some religions), and in our emphasis on education and self-sufficiency.

    Those are admittedly small potatoes, compared to the brass ring of institutional decision-making authority, but I don’t think we can say in fairness that the Church is obviously misogynist or even anti-feminist. My point earlier was not to say that the Church is somehow in the vanguard of feminism, but rather that issues of ecclesiastical support are not cut-and-dried, whether we speak of pre-statehood Utah or of the current day.

  21. Steve,

    Did you read the quotes in the SWK manual from the late 1970’s? This lesson was taught last month.

    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b3bc55cbf541229058520974e44916a0/?vgnextoid=da135f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1999862384d20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1&contentLocale=0

    Then we get to the Beck talk. I think its pretty cut and dried that the SLC leadership is opposed to feminism as currently manifested in the West.

  22. Steve, I’m interested in your claim that the most strident anti-feminists in the church are women. Could you elaborate or give examples? And do you really think there are a lot of anti-feminists in the church? Because I sort of doubt that. Sort of.

  23. I guess, as usual, it depends on how you define feminism. I think many women who currently attach that label to themselves are very far removed from the 19th century examples you cite, but I think almost all LDS admire our pioneer foremother suffragettes!

  24. Steve,

    I would ask you to provide a clear cut definition of what YOU mean by “feminism” in this context and then ask everyone else if THEY agree with that definition.

    I think women are as actively involved in the Church today as they were in the 1880-1890’s. Mormon women THEN were not encouraged to leave their homes and children either, and clearly understood that their FIRST roles after marriage were wife and mother before anything else. Our Church leaders today have not changed that stance, and I never expect them to.

    In fact, the LDS Church was one of the first entities to grant to women the right to vote, own property, divorce if they so choose to, and establish that women are equal to men and deserve to be educated in the same universities and vocations as men do. None of those things have changed today, so I’m not sure how you can say that the Church returned to anything close to “quasi-Victorian” behavior.

    I cannot find one instance where an LDS apostle or prophet has ever preached that women are “less than” males, in fact, I find MANY stating that women should be honored and treated with respect and veneration.

    The points where the Church parts ways with feminism is where things get radical…and it should. Radical feminists have problems with gender identities such as “male and female” and believe that they are social definitions rather than God given roles. Should we agree with them? I don’t want to believe in a Church that changes its policies and doctrine based on popular sentiment or the ideology of “mankind” no matter how enlightened they become. Do you?

  25. …even if it has a bit of Eve bashing in it.

    Blasphemy! ;)

  26. Steve Evans says:

    bbell, I think you’re just wrong. I really do — and I think you’re missing the point of what I said earlier in my no. 9, as well as missing the point of President Beck’s talk. You can say that the Church does not align itself with popular feminist movements on any quasi-political level, but it’s unfair to say that the Church does not ever engage in feminist behaviors.

    primsie, your comment is certainly emphatic! Despite your vigor, your points are largely incorrect. I’ve said nothing about women abandoning the home, so I am a little confused as to why you’re bringing that up. If you’re interested in LDS apostles or prophets preaching that women are less than men, there are many examples, from Paul down through as recently as bbell’s favorite, SWK. That doesn’t make their declarations doctrinal or correct, but both the scriptures and our own latter-day leaders have said many things that can be described as establishing the superiority of men, whether in a sense of spiritual or physical submission. If you cannot find one instance, you’re just not trying very hard.

    As for your final sentence/rhetorical question, the Church has in fact changed, and does change its policies and/or doctrine based on popular sentiment. If you’d like an example, I give you the Woodruff Manifesto.

    E, anti-feminists in the church? It takes little time in the Bloggernacle to find antifeminists. Heck, there are a couple of them on this thread alone.

    Eve — bash you? Perish the thought!

  27. Kristine,

    As far as I know, current ecc declarations about the roles of males and females seem to be very similar to those expressed by early church leaders, so I’m not sure I understand where you see a difference…Are you saying that early LDS women had a different opinion about the proper roles of women than those of the early Church leaders and that they were viewed as unrighteous/righteous or that current LDS women have a different opinion about the roles of women than current Church leaders do and are viewed as sinners etc?

  28. Come on, Steve, which commenters are anti-feminists? I’m not seeing it.

  29. Clark Goble says:

    Isn’t there just a basic problem trying to compare late 19th century feminism with 21st century feminism? Yet it appears that a lot do this. But just like a Democrat from 1930 might dislike the current Democratic party it doesn’t follow that a “feminist” from the late 19th century would agree with what is common in modern feminism.

  30. Steve,

    Would you be so kind as to point out where my points are largely wrong, even if you disagree with them?

    And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find anywhere in SWK’s lesson on Women where he teaches (or even insinuates) that women are “less than” men or that men are superior. Maybe I just missed it because it was mixed in with all those statements like:

    We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us.
    “The place of woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him. In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel … was devised by the Lord for men and women alike”

    Sometimes we hear disturbing reports about how sisters are treated. Perhaps when this happens, it is a result of insensitivity and thoughtlessness, but it should not be, brethren. The women of this Church have work to do which, though different, is equally as important as the work that we do.

    I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality.

    but righteous women and men will one day receive all—think of it, sisters—all that our Father has!

    Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.

    Since you are better acquainted with the many examples where LDS apostles preach that women are inferior to men, if you could send me some references to look up I would appreciate it.

    On Paul-
    If you are referring to the accuracy of his comment about women speaking in church etc, does re-iterating the Hebrew custom of women not being vocal in church make him a sexist?

    On the manifesto-
    What you define as a policy/doctrine change due to enlightened societal pressure, some believe was simply the repeal of a higher law for a lesser law by direct revelation from God. Just because a specific law isn’t practiced for whatever reason doesn’t mean the doctrine regarding the law changes. We don’t currently live the law of consecration, but it is still one of the doctrines of the LDS Church.

    E. seems to feel the same way I do. Can you in good conscience label anyone as an even regular ol’ “anti-feminist” much less a “strident” one without explaining what you define as feminism first?

    Kristine might feel the need to smack you for being judgmental about people who have an opinion different than yours.

  31. Steve Evans says:

    primsie, I’m sorry if I’m judgmental about you, but you don’t really have a lot of credibility. Sorry! Claiming that Paul wasn’t sexist, or that the Manifesto wasn’t the product of societal pressure, just is being plain dumb.

    Kristine might feel the need to smack me from time to time — I’m sure of it. But not because I’m judgmental about people such as yourself.

    E, as for which people are antifeminists, that secret can only be seen in their hearts, I’m sure, but I was just guessing.

  32. Steve Evans says:

    Clark, you are right on, although I have the feeling that categorizing 19th century feminists is at least as elusive a process as categorizing the contemporary ones.

  33. E–

    This occured in my Relief Society:

    A women was talking about both good and bad internet sites that she had found in the course of some searching on a topic. She accidentally followed a link to some site called “Feminist Mormon Housewives…”

    Audible gasps from the sisters…

    Knowing nodding and grim countenance from the sister.

    These sisters had NO IDEA what was on ths site, no inkling whatsoever, but everyone was certain from the title alone that it was a “bad bad” place.

    Is this strident anti-feminism? No, but actually recoiling at the word “feminist” cannot be constued as pro-feminist, can it?

  34. primsie: Mormon women THEN were not encouraged to leave their homes and children either, and clearly understood that their FIRST roles after marriage were wife and mother before anything else.

    This isn’t true. Polygamy allowed for women to concentrate child raising and consequently many women were encouraged to work outside the home and even leave their families for years while they pursued education in the East. Moreover, if it was financially possible, most homes would hire servants to do the housekeeping and some of the childrearing. The Relief Society at the turn of the century even created an Employment Bureau.

    While your views on the the Manifesto, may be popular among some Mormon circles (though I tend to think not), there were several Apostles the were relieved of their Church status because they refused to forsake the generally held belief that it was political document and that polygamy was still a current law of the Church.

  35. J. Stapley,

    This isn’t true.
    Really? I had no idea. Would you mind providing sources indicating that the LDS Church leaders taught married women with children that their education and/or vocational skills were their first priority over being a wife and mother, or that the early LDS sisters you mentioned personally embraced that understanding?

    Polygamy allowed for women to concentrate child raising and consequently many women were encouraged to work outside the home and even leave their families for years while they pursued education in the East.
    Was anything done to provide a fair and equal opportunity for women who did not live in polygamist families to pursue education in the East?

    Moreover, if it was financially possible, most homes would hire servants to do the housekeeping and some of the childrearing.
    I have nothing at all against hiring help and wish I could! But do you have any statistics regarding the number of early LDS homes that had the financial resources to hire help vs those that didn’t?

    While your views on the the Manifesto, may be popular among some Mormon circles (though I tend to think not), there were several Apostles the were relieved of their Church status because they refused to forsake the generally held belief that it was political document and that polygamy was still a current law of the Church.

    I base my personal views on the Manifesto upon the statements made by President Woodruff and the 12 apostles who were serving at the time. I also have no problem with those who view it differently. If I felt like I was right and everyone else was wrong, I’d probably just tell people who don’t agree with me that they are dumb or lack credibility.

  36. Steve,

    Credibility is borne of trust and confidence-it is based on evidence that what someone says is worthy of being believed, acceptable and reasonable.

    This is why I asked you to provide first a definition of “feminism” as you see it so that those reading and responding can confidently determine for themselves whether or not they agree with it and accept or reject other posters as feminist or anti-feminist. Because you continue to avoid giving your personal definition, your determinations continue to lack credibility to me.

    If your statements above are just your opinions, I am fine with that even if I don’t agree, but you stated them as facts. I’m sure in that light you understand that I am only being reasonable to request sources that back up your determinations that “many” LDS leaders have preached (by preach I mean taught as doctrine) that women are less than men, and that Paul was completely and irrevocably a sexist.

  37. Primsie, if you based your personal views on the Manifesto according to what President Woodruff and the 12 apostles then serving said and did, you’d be schizophrenic. John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley certainly would have different takes on it from President Woodruff or Elder Cannon.

    I don’t think you’re dumb — but I do think your positions are relatively unsupported, and hence some of them are dumb. As for lacking credibility, what kind of credibility should be afforded to someone named “primsie” whom I’ve never heard of before in my life?

  38. re: Paul, only someone completely blind cannot see that Paul was sexist. Whether or not his sexism is excused as a product of his times, etc. is a separate question, but his sexism is plain and simple.

    Frankly, establishing my credibility to you ranks very very low on my to-do list. The burden is on you to do a little reading and research before just asking for endless lists of sources and proofs. There are plenty of books out there for you to read — don’t demand that others read them for you.

  39. All right, that was pretty snotty of me. Forgive me for getting carried away. Shall we move on?

  40. Would you mind providing sources indicating that the LDS Church leaders taught married women with children that their education and/or vocational skills were their first priority over being a wife and mother, or that the early LDS sisters you mentioned personally embraced that understanding?

    They didn’t say they were their first priority anymore than career is taught o be the first priority for men. The question is what the difference between first priority and second priority. While I tend to disagree vehemently with what I perceive to be the major strains of modern feminism in this regard, I also tend to dislike how many “socially conservative” women (especially in Utah) view it as well. (I put that in quotes for obvious reasons since I think this idea that women stay home and do nothing else has no basis in Church teaching)

    Brigham Young taught,

    As I have often told my sisters in the Female Relief Societies, we have sisters here who, if they had the privilege of studying, would make just as good mathematicians or accountants as any man; and we think they ought to have the privilege to study these branches of knowledge that they may develop the powers with which they are endowed. We believe that women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but that they should stand behind the counter, study law or physic, or become good bookkeepers and be able to do the business in any counting house, and all this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things they but answer the design of their creation. (DBY 216-217)

  41. Steve,

    I agree that establishing yourself as a credible person should be very far down on your list of things to do, not to mention being very difficult to do across a computer screen, and was not asking you to. I was asking you to establish your argument as credible, and while I am not familiar with the rules of debate/apologetics or even informal discussion, I think that if it is rational and fair for you to state that my relatively unsupported positions are hence “dumb”, that I have the equal right (pun!)to declare the same thing about your positions that remain unsupported.

    Hummmmmmmmmm I noticed that there are several lawyers who post on this forum…I wonder how they would be viewed if they said something like this to the jury: “It’s not my job to prove that our defense is credible. The burden of proof is on you to just do a little reading and research. There is plenty of evidence out there to support that my client is innocent, don’t ask anyone to find it and bring it here to you.”

    You see, I can be very snotty too and I speak only for myself in saying that I tend to be the most snotty when I ignore the fact that, by definition, my presumptions about people do not automatically make them the truth. So of course I forgive you.

    But I don’t think we really can move on in this discussion unless we are all working from the same definition of what being a “feminist” is in the first place. Here’s why-

    First of all, the word “sufferage” is defined as-the right to vote, and while “women’s sufferage” can be applied to a variety of aspects of social discrimination, generally the term refers to a woman’s right to vote.

    Feminism is defined by Webster’s as-1:the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
    2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

    I honestly don’t know even one LDS woman (or man for that matter) who disagrees with feminism defined as the equal, legal right for women to vote, work, own property, divorce, pursue an education, etc. Wouldn’t that mean that they too are “feminists”?
    I also don’t know even one intelligent LDS woman who thinks that the Church defines the role of women as strictly confined to baking cookies, doing laundry and homeschooling their children and that anything outside the doors of their own homes (or their husband’s priesthood stewardship) is off limits and evil.

    I would define an “intelligent woman” to mean one that is physically capable of reading and comprehending the scriptures, the words of current Church leaders and the published curriculum of our faith. These sources are easy to understand and clear in their meaning for even the “weakest” of the Saints, and they contain a unity of gospel and doctrine designed to unify members of the Church because the Lord commanded us to be one.

    Without a solid definition of how YOU define anti-feminism, the natural response would then be to define it as someone who does not agree with social, political and economic equality for both sexes. An anti-feminist would view women as inferior to men in all social arenas as well as deserving lower pay for the same work, and no voice in society at large.

    If you are indeed stating that a large portion of LDS women and/or that the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is “anti-feminist” according to the above description-I believe you have a responsibility to every person who reads this thread to either provide actual evidence to support your position as a credible fact or a disclaimer stating that it is just your opinion.

    Of course if you have an altogether different definition then sharing it might have altered the course of this thread at least 20 or so posts ago.

  42. Primsie, the fact is that this is a post about how women behaved and were treated in pre-statehood Utah. If you know nothing about the topic, it is not my job to inform you. You simply need to read more than you have.

    As for whether or not we can move on in the discussion without my definition of feminism, the reality is that we’re going to move on. I have no responsibility to you, and I’ll prove it. I declare your threadjack over.

  43. primsie, as you undoubtedly know, there are entire volumes devoted to essaying a definition of feminism. Demanding such a definition before proceeding with the discussion is probably futile when the level of discourse is that of a blog post. It’s true Steve could have been a little more careful in his original post–“anti-feminist” is not a particularly helpful descriptor, but there are quicker ways to clarify his meaning than to just demand a definition.

    As for the question you asked me, the quotation Clark produced is helpful, and one could adduce dozens along those lines. The notion that childrearing should be identity-defining and all-consuming for all women has not been a constant even in the relatively brief history of the church.

  44. Feminism is defined by Webster’s as-1:the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
    2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

    Where the debate arises, however, is in determine what equality means and entails. There are a lot of strains of feminism. Modern feminism from an ideological basis, tends to rankle me quite a bit. However I suspect that had I lived in 1890 I’d have been labeled a feminist since I’d favor more liberal (for then) divorce laws, better legal protections, the right to vote in national, state and municipality elections, the right to run, and so forth. However those debates are long, long over and tend to not characterize the modern debate.

    This is why I tend to find the term “feminist” as unhelpful. Not just because of its pejorative status – primarily due to its use as a self-label by many extremists – but also because there are just so many radically different ideas within that general movement.

    The reason so many (somewhat validly) within the Church dislike the term feminism is that they see many self-labeled feminists as often criticizing the church. There is a perception (whether just or not) of denigration of the roles of father and mother and the primacy of the home and children. There are also other issues tied to PC-speak, socialized state programs, and so forth. Once again I’m not saying all those judgments are fair. However they tend to have their roots in the actual writings of people who self-designated themselves as feminists.

    Having said that though some things that even modernists promote I agree with even if I may disagree with a lot of their other agendas and ideology. We can’t get into a situation where something is wrong just because an intellectual opponent believes it.

  45. Steve Evans says:

    Clark, I largely agree with your analysis, even if our individual tolerance levels re: modern self-labeled feminism may differ. I don’t think the term is useful out of context, which is why I have not been willing to address it. It’s of far more importance to us, I believe, to look at the actual behaviors, attitudes, limits and powers of women then and now rather than sign on to political slates that have largely been externally defined.

  46. Wonderful thread, cogent and cantankerous, as its topic requires!

    A small suggestion, Consenters: The endings “et” or “ette” when added to a standard noun often indicate either a small version of the real thing, or an imitation thereof. (As in: baronet, cellaret, dinette, drum majorette, leatherette, and many more.) In preference to “suffragette,” the word more favored today is “suffragist.”

    A comparable linguistic point has to do with the ending “-ess” for women poets, managers, actors, et al. Most of the -ess versions have dropped from common use now, I think. My favorite contortion of this sort (common 50 years ago) is “aviatrix”–I get the image of a pilot who is somehow performing tricks in a tutu while she flies!

    I once gave a lecture on these matters, titled “Smile When You Say That, Pardneress!” It was video-taped and put in the appropriate BYU archives, but a year later, when a colleague wanted to play the tape for his class–sacre bleu! It had vanished! A burglaress, no doubt, or perhaps a vandalette. A small loss, in any case, and a small linguistic point.

    Have I said before that I find BCC the most thought-provoking blog site found on the Web?

  47. “Smile When You Say That, Pardneress!”

    lol, Elouise. L.O.L! You’re a treasure. I guess the duchess said that as she reached for her six shooter.

    In this case, though, I think there is a slight difference in meaning between suffragette and suffragist, or at least there was at the time women were granted the franchise. Suffragettes were women only, and regarded males as the enemy. They also tended to be more militant. Suffragists included both men and women who wanted women to vote. I learned this from Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge.

  48. Steve Evans says:

    Elouise, I am very very grateful for the correction! Thanks very much.

  49. Feministfromoz says:

    Awwwwww Steve!

    I hate it when the new kids force you to choose between responding with cheap insults and blocking them for impertinently insisting that you support your positions. Seriously, why engage in the noble cause of teaching and expounding the truth to others by providing information and knowledge that they might lack when one can just tell them to go find it themselves?

    Hopefully when her limited understanding becomes as vast as yours, she will be able to appreciate the pure and perfect logic behind things like opening a thread addressing the behavior and treatment of LDS women participating in the “externally defined” “political slate” called women’s suffrage with a comment about the “strident anti-feminists” of today’s Church and ending it with the declaration that from shortly after the turn of the century until now, the Church has functioned in a quasi-Victorian state. Especially considering that you provided further clarity in post #45 by saying that you don’t feel that the term “feminist/anti-feminist” is useful out of context anyway.

    But of course you are wise not to allow her to question the credibility of such brilliant dialog. After all, if you don’t silence everyone that isn’t completely captivated by the show, someday one of them is bound to notice the big curtain on the left and be curious enough to see what is in there.

    Toto sends his love

  50. Everyone, feministfromoz is primsie, posting under another alias. Enjoy.

  51. theflyingmonkey says:

    Great Oz,

    Just utilizing a disgusting ploy that you have engaged in yourself…but it only lends YOU credibility and not me doesn’t it? Don’t worry, I don’t want to participate here any longer. BCC’s brand of free thinking and expression is just as hypocritical as it is disturbing. You should be so proud!

  52. Changing aliases, swapping IP addresses to avoid banning…. pathetic.

    Sadly, this is a pattern that has tended to repeat itself with increasing frequency: a new commenter comes on the scene and demands respect, only to show him or herself as a troll. People sometimes ask me why I am occasionally harsh to newcomers — people like Primsie are the reason, really. There used to be a time that commenters would invest a little social capital into making comments and being reasonable; now, it seems like it’s either instant respect or instant descent into trolldom.

  53. Steve Evans is a poopy head!

  54. Have I said before that I find BCC the most thought-provoking blog site found on the Web?

    Amen Elouise!

  55. Tanya Sue says:

    Clark-I think you should include the idea that many “man-haters” claim to be feminists. Example, a friend told me there were other feminists in my ward which I haven’t seen. When I said that feminist is not the same as man-hater, her response was “oh, then what is a feminist?”. In her mind, and many others, they are the same.

    I explained that us feminists hate MOST men, not all men….(kidding)

  56. FWIW, I found several pieces in the Woman’s Exponent on the subject of suffragettes vs. suffragists.

    An Important Gathering of Women (May 1909)

    Suffragists and Suffragettes (Mar. 1913)

    The Suffrage Movement in England (Feb. 1914)

  57. kristine N says:

    Tanya Sue–That’s where the lovely term “feminazi” becomes useful. I have that argument frequently with my husband–he’s convinced I can’t be a feminist because I don’t hate men or think women are better than men.

  58. Tanya-Sue. I think that’s a great point. (What’s the term for the female equivalent of misogynist? Misandry?) And, especially among women who’ve been mistreated by men either through abuse or messy divorces or relationships there are misadrists. Just like I’ve known divorced men whose ex-wives weren’t the nicest of people to descend into troubling misogyny. As ever, sometimes forgiveness is hard to give and when we don’t give it we cause a canker on our own souls.

    I think there definitely is a class of famous feminists who count as misandrists (or men-haters). Who was the famous writer from the early 70’s who said all sex was rape? Or something like that. (I remember only because I had a girlfriend who had to read this author in college along with quite a few others.)

    As I’ve long said, extremists in the feminist movement are the main cause for anti-feminist backlash.

  59. Clark,

    You’re probably thinking of Cynthia Mackinnon but according to Snopes, she never said it, at least in those exact words.

  60. Well, “at least in those exact words” being key. I’m just going by the reaction my girlfriend had after reading the writings.

  61. To add, I don’t know if it was MacKinnon. This was over 15 years ago. It could have been Dworkin or something else for all I can remember. The point being that just like today Ann Coulter says outrageous things which (unfortunately) has the effect of making many hate all conservatives, feminists have had people who made outrageous or over the top statements or writings which likewise produced backlash.

    And of course many Mormons will find themselves having a lot in common with MacKinnon or Dworkin on the topic of pornography or sexual harrassment in the workplace. Both were very important figures in passing laws in those regards.

    So things are always more complex than they first appear.

    But that was ultimately my point. Just as no conservative wants to be painted by the brush a liberal paints with after quoting Ann Coulter I suspect feminists wouldn’t want to be painted by the brush that various “iconoclasts” among themselves have allowed.

  62. One more point, the whole issue of power-relationships and especially formal and perceived informal power relationships is the very place where I disagree the most with feminist theorists. Especially the kind of discourse MacKinnon and Dworkin engage in. I simply think there are multiple – typically contradictory – power lines going forth. So I tend to view it all through what might be broadly perceived as a deconstructive “strategy.” To me while it is important to focus on informal lines of power rather than just stated ideal formal lines, the fact is that typically the discourse feminists engage in can be treated exactly the way they treat patriarchal discourse.

    Put an other way, power is very, very layers and complex and a healthy dose of skepticism ought be employed by anyone tying power and sex together in a broad and general way.

    I think most of these things are better dealt with through science and empirical testing in areas like cognitive science. Otherwise folks are typically just “hand waving” the way some alternative medicine person does with their claims about chi and shakra points.

  63. As far as B.H. Roberts being opposed to women voting. Do you know the reasons he gave for his opposition?

    I know a few, I believe. He said his ultimate concern was that politics in general was a mean business and women ought to be above such a thing, that the man of the house would consult with the spouse and decide on whom to vote for.

    I think B.H. was also opposed because he was a Democrat.

  64. Weirdly, Snopes kinda drops the ball on this one.

    The statement originally comes not from MacKinnon, but from Andrea Dworkin’s book _Intercourse_ , where Dworkin writes that “Violation is a synonym for intercourse.”

    This is sometimes summarized (usually by critics) as “all sex is rape,” but Dworkin herself has repeatedly disavowed that position, and has elaborated that her claim is that heterosexual sex, like rape, has historically been an act that takes place in a relationship of extreme inequality. For Dworkin, that inequality, at its extreme, becomes rape; but even non-rape sex is often the product of a highly asymmetrical power relationship.

    Catharine MacKinnon (not Cynthia) is one of many feminist writers who draws on Dworkin’s work in her own writing. MacKinnon’s work deals mostly with feminism and law, and she’s probably most well-known for consistently arguing that pornography should be outlawed because it is an illegal form of sex discrimination and has a harmful impact on women.

  65. Sorry, but the title of this post reminds me of this.

  66. Of course Kaimi, even if it isn’t formally rape, it certainly bears similar features. And, as I recall (it’s been years), the examples she gives regarding power relationships isn’t exactly…positive. So if, for instance, the High School QB marries a cheerleader, even if they love one an other and are good people, the power relationships tend to “contaminate” any physical intimacy in such a way that a structural parallel similar to rape is in place.

    You can see why for many that might turn them off of feminism, regardless of whether the nuances are right.

    Put an other way, many people have trouble in how feminists in looking at purported large scale structures tend to value those structures and by association the instantiation of those structures in a particular and individual relationship. There is a kind of tyranny of global structures on individuals that seems silly when you take a step back from it. (Which isn’t to deny to role of society on the individual – just that it can be grossly overstated)

  67. Kaimi and Clark, you both misspelled Katharine MacKinnon’s name–if I were you, I’d take that as an indication that you’re underqualified to debate her point publicly.

  68. Clark Goble says:

    Kristine, I mispell nearly every philosopher or scientist I discuss. And if you heard me face to face you’d cringe and my pronunciations.

    In any case, what’s being discussed is less the particular writings in question that public perception of them. So, I might reject out of hand most peoples perceptions of Derrida and postmodernism as representing good exegesis of his writings. Yet I have to fully engage with how they are read and received. (Which, coincidentally is why I’d never call myself a “deconstructionist” or “postmodernist.”) There is very good reason why postmodernism has a bad rep just as there is very good reason why feminism has a bad rep.

    But I fully admit that I read the figures in question 15 – 20 years ago, have fragmentary memory of them and can’t debate the particulars. (I think I made that point in a few of my posts)

  69. Clark Goble says:

    Dang, I made a joke about misspellings and pronunciations; posted; and then read my post. It was unintentionally ironic how many misspellings of common words were in it. Perils of typing in cramped quarters on a laptop quickly.

  70. And Kaimi actually had it right. Doh.

  71. Kristine:

    Ahem.

  72. Doh squared.

  73. Clark Goble says:

    To add, my complaints about power analysis is primarily due to discussions with self-proclaimed feminists and the like. Once again I’m not referring to any particular popular text. Further clearly there are feminists who are influenced by movements within Continental Philosophy that undermine straight-forwards power relations.

  74. Tanya Sue says:

    Kristine N-so true! That and I don’t enjoy male bashing and get annoyed when people do it. Of course I cannot be a feminist, because feminists bash men.

  75. “discussions with self-proclaimed feminists and the like”

    care to elaborate? It doesn’t exactly sound like the makings of a well-informed opinion about feminism (any more than talking with 5 self-proclaimed Mormons would give you an adequate idea of Mormon theology)

  76. StillConfused says:

    “Of course I cannot be a feminist, because feminists bash men.” Amen sister

  77. Not much to elaborate. Are you saying that there isn’t a significant portion of feminist discourse focused on analyzing power relations?

    I’m very skeptical of such discourse. As I said, I never implied this was even the majority of feminist discourse. Indeed I believe, by my Ann Coulter analogy, that I argued against it.

    As for whether it is “well informed” I don’t think most “po-mo” discussion is terribly well informed either. Yet that crap that goes under the rubric tends to make up the majority of “po mo discussion.”

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