My wife and I recently agreed to write an essay on “embodiment and sexuality” in Mormonism and as I have often confessed to many of you I know very little about the Utah period of Mormonism. I suspect that, other than being a little tired of the constant fights about the status of Joseph Smith’s dual wives in Nauvoo, many others are curious about how participants in polygamy might have talked about or understood sexuality, how the Mormon family system might have resisted or intersected with trends in the broader American society. Any of you out there have any primary or secondary sources that you strongly recommend for someone interested in understanding more about sexuality in 19th-century Mormon polygamy? I think it’s fair to say that the Victorian polygamy romance novels are not at the top of my interest list, though if there was one you thought was absolutely exemplary it might be interesting.
Summer, 2003: I was a wreck. My sixth child was six months old, and I wasn’t even close to recovering from his birth and the trauma that followed: For him, lung failure and three weeks in the NICU. For me, a profound emotional and spiritual crisis. The combination of outward and inward events shook me hard. My testimony was intact, but I felt disconnected from it. Unmoored. All my usual connection points failed me: church meetings, scripture reading, even prayer. [Read more…]
As a tall woman whose garments fall about 4″ above the knee (regular, not petite size), am I obligated to wear skirts or shorts that cover the garment well, or that go all the way to the knee?
My thoughts: the church can’t be bothered to manufacture garments to fit too-tall freaks like me (update: see comments #36 and #38), I get that, totally. But, guess what, neither can any commercial clothing company. [Read more…]
Sunny Smart returns for a second guest post.
I grew up in the shadow of Phyllis Schlafly and the Eagle Forum. Phyllis was the founder of the STOP ERA movement of the ’70s and early ’80s and is largely credited for the ultimate failure of the ERA. Once the ERA had passed congress and had been sent to the states for ratification, Phyllis, the LDS church–and my mom–went into action. While we lived in California, my mom was heavily involved in STOP ERA efforts. Then, not long after moving to Utah, my mom became the Utah Director for STOP ERA. And how. [Read more…]
Or, putting some fun into our dysfunctional discourse on gender. If you haven’t already ready read Cynthia L.’s excellent post, please read it now before proceeding.
This post introduces a new feature called the BCC Puzzler. Consider the following situations and the questions which follow. If you think you know the answer to any of the questions, please write the answer on the back of a twenty dollar bill and send it in. And if you just paid your tithing yesterday and can’t find a twenty, please write your answer in the comments. [Read more…]
There is what looks to me like a terrific conference coming up at CGU April 23 and 24. Below I’ve attempted to paste in the information from the program. (One with eyes to see will note a lot of bloggers on this program!) Those of you able to should definitely check it out (notes will be appreciated). [Read more…]
I first encountered Joanna Brooks during freshman orientation week at BYU in 1989–she was sitting on a table in the checkerboard quad recruiting for the Student Review, swinging her feet and looking like a pixie with her freckles and short, dark hair. She quickly gained a reputation on campus for being articulately outspoken on various social issues, and I admired her from afar. But I didn’t get to know her until my junior year, when both of us took a certain contemporary literary criticism course from a certain feminist professor. On the first day, I spotted her a few seats down (her hair was longer then–super thick and shiny), and knew this would be a class to remember. And I was right.
I’ll spare you the details of the wild, semester-long romp through Kristeva and Cixous and Jaggar (drop me an email if you want to hear about the bra burning). Instead, let me tell you about the groundbreaking multi-state event that Joanna is spearheading this month: Our Voices, Our Visions: A Mormon Women’s Literary Tour. Better yet, let Joanna tell you about it in this mini-interview we had recently: [Read more…]
Suppose that you are faithful Latter-day Saint who lives in a part of the world where there are few members of the Church, and everyone knows each other–or knows someone who knows those you don’t. A small, close-knit network of several 3rd and 4th generation families and their children, minimally impacted by converts and migration.
Suppose further that your spouse is a very well-respected member of the Church–generally regarded as a highly spiritual person, faithful to temple covenants, magnifies callings, has friends in lofty local leadership positions, and serves in the ward otherwise in ways that demonstrate to all observers that he is an honest, loving, faithful Latter-day Saint, husband, and father. Suppose, however, that the truth is, your spouse is a monster who uses the gospel as a weapon to demean you, to malign you, and to compel you into submission in all areas of life. [Read more…]
The Old Testament is a fairly intimidating source of scripture as it was produced thousands of years ago by a culture that is greatly foreign to our own. The strangeness of the Old Testament text and cultural milieu is likely particularly potent for women who approach the text. Among the few things that we can say with confidence regarding the culture of Ancient Israel is that it was misogynistic. Therefore, Camille Fronk Olsen’s recent book Women of the Old Testament is best considered as a good introductory text to help teachers, particularly those interested in applying scripture to women’s lives, tackle this very difficult work.
The following was submitted by regular BCC commenter blt, whom the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has retained in its membership solely on the merits of his willingness to teach eleven year-olds knots. He currently (p)resides with his wife in Korea where he teaches middle school.
Dear BCC readers,
I recently came across a cache of old MormonAds (they were probably called something else back in the day) while going through some of my Mom’s old things. I thought this might be a comedy gold mine, and I offer this first image (with the original text from the back of the ad beneath) for your captioning: [Read more…]
Had I not been raised Mormon, I suspect that I would not have majored in English literature. I like nonfiction more than novels, but literary criticism offered me women’s studies and a vocabulary through which I could think critically about how my Mormon culture prescribed gender roles that I found constricting. Being able to grasp a historical perspective on the evolution of gender was liberating to me, because this understanding gave me an expanded psychological capacity to choose how I would live my life. I appreciated that I found a place that was willing to take women’s experiences as serious objects of study, thus making significant experiences that were often under-valued. [Read more…]
ELOUISE: I took beginning creative writing from Elouise Bell, who demanded quite a lot. I loved the experience, and decided I would indeed become a writer. I didn’t do particularly well in it (I think I got a B), but I loved the freedom of creating stories. I loved the give-and-take of her class–though I was frankly intimidated by her back then.
I still use some of Elouise’s exercises as I teach my own students. More than her teaching, however, I remember two specific incidents involving Elouise. [Read more…]
Sunstone is over for another year. I finally have access to a computer, so I thought I’d jot some notes on my experience there this year. [Read more…]
Brother Lars Glenson is a good, though misguided and simple-minded soul who shows up hereabouts from time to time. He holds the study of Mormon history in special disdain and refers to it as Mormon Minutiae. Our Christian duty requires us to bear with Lars in his difficulties and to shed as much light as possible on his darkened path. It is in this spirit that BCC announces it will provide from time to time a new feature as a public service called Especially For Glenson. This service will be carried out in the form of short, inspirational posts, much like the format of Especially For Mormons. However, the BCC iteration will be better because the stories will actually be true. Please enjoy our first feature, which we will call Covered Wagon Feminism.
A few simple questions for consideration and discussion regarding your ward’s Mother’s Day festivities:
1. Priesthood Choir or Primary Choir?
2. Flowers or Cookies?
3. Oh, My Father, or Love at Home?
4. Old People or Young People?
5. Spiritual Feast or Cringe-Fest?
Introduction/disclaimer: I haven’t read the books and had no desire to, so I thought I’d check out the movie once came out on DVD, just to see what the big fuss is about. I threw it in my Netflix queue, couldn’t have had lower expectations. Here’s my first reaction: UPDATE: here’s a video “summary” of Twilight for those who haven’t seen it. Heh.
First off, I can definitely, definitely understand Natalie’s reaction in calling it porn for women. The women-porn force is strong in Twilight. Except for the -ahem- very rare moments when I got a little sucked in by it, I was just laughing and marveling at the absurd levels to which the blatancy of its women-porniness rose.
Over the past couple of weeks, there have been some great, thought-provoking discussions here at BCC about women’s issues in the workplace. Implicit in all of these posts, and the resulting comment threads, is a question about how Mormon doctrine and culture influence the way women in the Church balance parental and employment obligations. These topics need far more attention and serious discussion–in society generally, but also in the Church, and especially in our individual homes. However, while the number and magnitude of difficult issues may or may not be distributed evenly across gender lines, recent events in my life have caused me to give more and more consideration to the impact that those same doctrines and cultural elements have on men in the Church.
Over the the past few months, many men I know have lost their jobs. It seems that rarely does a week go by without news that another person from the ward was laid off. Witnessing this has left me with a form of survivor’s guilt for my own good fortune in having a secure job I enjoy, great coworkers, and increasing opportunities for growth. This feeling is magnified by the fact that some of the people who have lost their jobs are dear to me–more so than they could possibly know–because they rallied around me and buoyed my spirits two years ago when I was faced with unemployment and in dire need of help for my family. The time I spent without a job was the worst stretch of my life. Now, nearly two years later, I think I can finally say I’m grateful for that nightmare of a year that was 2007, but I’m still not entirely recovered from the detrimental impact it had on my spirituality, self-confidence, and ability to communicate with God.
No two people experience unemployment in the exact same way; accordingly, I don’t expect that my experiences will resonate perfectly with everyone. However, I have noticed some themes that may be common to anyone dealing with unemployment, and I think they are worth discussing.
In the latest issue of The Atlantic (or, at least, the one I most recently got around to reading), Hanna Rosin has a provocative article on why mothers shouldn’t be or feel compelled to nurse their infants. She argues, rightly, that breastfeeding requires an inordinate amount of time, making it all but impossible for a nursing mother to do paid work. The benefits to the infant, at least as measured so far, are not sufficient to justify the costs to the mother. Moreover, excluding fathers from the opportunity to bond with their infants by feeding them is inconsistent with newer cultural expectations of fathering, and introduces a sort of inequality into the parenting structure that is hard to overcome as the child grows.
I agree with her on all counts. And I think she is completely wrong. [Read more…]
It has recently come to my attention that we, as mormons, have done something shameful, I thought it may be too hot to post, but I can’t be silent. [Read more…]
Will Wilkinson, commenting on Catherine Rampell’s “The Happiest States of America” article on the NYTimes’ Economix blog, suspects “a skoche of culture-driven upward inflation” is at play in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which puts Utah at the top of states reporting a general sense of happiness (HT: Greg). More specifically, he states:
I’ll vouch for the fact that Utahns are exceptionally chipper. Though perhaps it should be noted that some Mormons are almost ideological about the idea that they ought to be happy.
Just some Mormons, Will? Happiness is inherent in our ideology. [Read more…]
It is my sense that women in the church feel our identities defined in part by the callings that our husbands hold. What are the emotional implications for LDS women of their husbands’ callings?
In reacting to a new calling for my husband, I have felt gratitude for having a righteous and service-oriented individual by my side for life’s journey, and pleased (not proud!) in his ability to serve the church so well. It is also my experience that there can be more muddled feelings [Read more…]
A few of us had the pleasure of overhearing an internet conversation the other day. Here are 50 of the more interesting things we heard, which we have boiled down and made anonymous for presentation purposes. Note that this discussion is for mature audiences, and will appear in three parts.
Certain words may appear a little funny as we attempt to keep the original wording intact but permit those with internet filters to enjoy the conversation — the post requires images and may not read well in RSS feeds. Comments are closed on these posts; we encourage you to talk about this conversation with your families and on your own websites and blogs. Please email us with any questions. [Read more…]
It’s a blustery 3 degrees F (-17 C) outside right now on the first Sunday of the New Year. In a moment I need to head into the wind for an meeting. But first, two New Year examples of BCC bloggers popping up in daily life in Utah County.
A few days ago we were playing a family game of hockey on a nearby pond. While one of us chased down a puck after an errant pass, the rest of the family paused to rest, and someone commented, “Can you imagine breaking through this ice to get baptized, and doing that for 7 days in a row!” That statement stems from a family home evening lesson we had based around J. Stapley’s and Kris Wright’s Journal of Mormon History article, “A History of Baptism for Health.” If you haven’t [Read more…]
There is a baptism card sold at the BYU bookstore which shows a white girl (cartoon) apparently preparing for baptism. The upper part of her body is viewable, and she is dressed in white. The front of the card says, “White on the outside…” The inside says “And on the inside. Congratulations on your baptism.” [Read more…]
Previous installments in this series have examined questions from the perspective of a priesthood leader. This post puts a wrinkle in the theme by asking a question about what a woman should do.