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.
Bloggernacle voices (and I’m one of them) often point out that church structurally disadvantages women in a number of important ways. Women are denied the formal leadership structure of the Priesthood; limited in other official roles; subjected to a variety of messages. Indeed, an outside observer might think, from reading bloggernacle posts alone, that women would be fleeing in droves from this anti-feminist church, leaving behind only a foul-smelling, unshaven, male-populated shell of an organization.
They would be wrong. In fact, women seem to consistently be the most active church members. This is perhaps the trickiest conceptual problem for the Mormon feminist: Explaining the appeal of this anti-feminist church to so many actual women. If the church is such a bad place for women — and conversely, such an unfairly good place for men — then why are women so much more likely to attend church? [Read more...]
Here is our newest guest: Rebecca J. When
prodded coerced to write a bio, she replies: “I’m a writer, a housewife and a lifelong Mormon. I have a personal blog, which I write under “madhousewife,” which is an homage to the Sue Kaufmann novel and not a commentary on my emotions. I used to be a journalist, but now I mostly write fiction, which has gleaned me mostly rejection (though I did recently move up to the hand-written rejections, which was nice). I have four kids, two of whom are toilet-trained (mostly). I also tap-dance–poorly, but with joy.” Welcome Rebecca!
As this is my first post for BCC, I feel obligated to break the ice somehow. I could make like I’m giving my first sacrament meeting talk in a new ward and say how I’m really nervous but so grateful for the opportunity and maybe tell the cute story of how I met Steve Evans, but that’s probably been done. I don’t know any jokes, either, so I guess I’ll just have to go straight into my prepared remarks.
Mormons love conversion stories. So do feminists. Mormon feminists must love conversion stories twice as much as anybody. A common Mormon feminist conversion story will tell how a naive, true-blue Mormon girl started out thinking feminism was for godless abortion-lovers and how over time she learned that feminism was merely the radical idea that women are people–oh, and also, that she could vote Democratic and still be a good Mormon. It’s less common to find a story about a Mormon woman who converts to feminism without converting to liberal politics in general, but certainly those stories are out there. It’s even less common to find a story of a Mormon feminist who started out as a liberal and converted to conservatism, while simultaneously diving headlong into the abyss of religious doubt. I am that lonely, prone-to-hyperbole Mormon feminist. [Read more...]
Two ranches are featured in today’s U.S. headlines: [Read more...]
There, Claudia Bushman, as professor, historian, and consummately-involved church member, briefly reviews the history of women’s roles in the church and the development of the Summer 1971 “pink” issue of Dialogue (dedicated to women’s themes). And, almost 40 years after she wrote the introductory essay to that issue, she asks herself and the rest of us for a status report and issues a call for involvement:
“…Mormon women were among the first and best at learning to stand and speak…. But where have we gone since then? Somehow in our liberated society, we have remained as dutiful and quiet daughters and wives. In our Church society where women are valued as daughters of God, as noble followers in the pathway of Eve, we still do not speak out. We know that there are dangers. People don’t always understand. Some take umbrage. Instead of being embraced as sisters, we can be shut out. So I propose a practical program of action for Mormon women to encourage them to speak up and out….”
Received by mail:
Dear Father of a Senior Primary son,
The Primary is preparing for our musical program to be performed in
sacrament meeting on November 18th.
We will close our program with the Senior Primary boys singing with
their fathers “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.” We invite you to
join your boy in singing this song.
The Primary Presidency and Chorister
In discussing women and healing in the early church, one of the most commonly asked questions seems to be, “How could this have happened? Why did things change?” [Read more...]
For Labor Day, I thought I’d write about Mormonism’s own labor hero, Esther Peterson. This is mostly adapted from an interview Cokie Roberts did in 1993, and retold in her book _We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters_ (dumb title; pretty good book).
Esther Peterson’s mother was one of the first women to attend Brigham Young Academy, but she had to drop out and work when her father became ill. So from a young age, Esther was aware of the real necessity of women being able to work and earn a living. [Read more...]
Church Public Affairs has worked with the producers of the recent PBS documentary, The Mormons, to publish extended transcripts of the Elder Oaks and Elder Packer interviews (thanks to Justin for the heads-up). Major kudos to the Church for making these available. Some important excerpts from the Oaks interview: [Read more...]
gmfptyooue asflkjhtr tlaeiew.
There are probably people in your ward or branch who see something like the previous sentence when they see the ward bulletin. Adult illiteracy is a problem in the United States, with about 10% of the population over age 16 judged to be unable to read or write. [Read more...]
Do Mormon women hold the priesthood? For the majority of Latter-day Saints, the answer is an obvious no: women do not hold the priesthood. For me, the answer is an intellectually frustrating “maybe, yes, no, dunno.” In part, I have found Quinn’s research compelling: clearly there was some sense in the 19th century that temple-endowed Mormon women were part of the “priesthood” (see also J. Stapley’s thoughts). There’s also the rather practical realisation that if Mormon women can dress in the robes of the priesthood, wear the priesthood garment, and enact the rites of the priesthood, they are quite obviously “priests” (see Compton).
On the other hand, it is not clear to me that the 19th century use of the term “priesthood” has an equivalent in modern Mormonism (let alone in wider religious theory). Just because Mormon women could be members of an Anointed Quorum, for example, does not mean that they held the “priesthood” in any sense that would be meaningful for us today. Also, it’s rather obvious that priesthood or no, women are not ordained to priesthood office. For me, I believe there is “a priesthood” available to Mormon women, but I don’t quite know where to situate it and we would need an authorised clarification in order to better understand it.
One thing Quinn has written particularly catches my eye. He suggests that the lack of ordination of women, and the separation of Mormon womens’ “priesthood” from the bureaucratic function of the church may, in fact, be a useful thing: [Read more...]
There was a moment when I thought I might be gay. I think most people ask themselves at some time or another. Quietly, of course. In a closet, maybe. Most ask it in attempts to understand or define their sexuality but I was already certain I liked men, a lot, which makes it seem illogical and even a bit stupid for a Mormon girl to ask, but I did. [Read more...]
This past Sunday, during my brief interlude back home from a deposition marathon in Steve’s hometown of Calgary, we had our monthly meeting of the "Radmos" (Radical Mormon Women). The topic of discussion was a look at some versions of the Judeo-Christian creation myth, including the classical Christian, the LDS, some Gnostic views and the Lilith myth. But, as usual, our discussion soon evolved (devolved?) into an inquiry into whether and where our modern-day Eves exist in LDS culture and life. As a group we all seemed to be striving for LDS women in public discourse who provide examples of an exemplary life lived, a model to emulate, a beacon of wisdom. We don’t seem to have any.