the daily herald gets a dose of feminism
Recently, I was contacted by a reporter at the Daily Herald and asked to write a personal essay about why I am a Mormon feminist and what Mormon feminism means to me. I wrote this essay. Unbeknownst to me, another LDS woman was asked to write about why she is an anti-feminist, which she wrote about here.
Hopefully these essays will help further the dialogue on what it means to be a feminist, and why feminism is important in an LDS context.
On a related note, here is a helpful quiz to determine if you are a feminist or not. http://www.areyouafeminist.com
5 Responses to “the daily herald gets a dose of feminism”
I read your essay and it was wonderful.
Reading your essay, and watching your opening remarks about ordaining women, all I have to say is that you seem to be straining at the smallest of things.
I mean, to read Genesis 3 about man ruling over woman and leaping to the conclusion that women are 2nd class citizens ignores the creation of woman, that she is to be at the side of man, a helpmeet. It ignores all modern day revelation that the husband and wife are equal partners in the home.
To say that the first man was created, with a small addendum of “oh, and a woman” is to ignore that throughout the creation God said each aspect was good, but at the creation of woman, the culmination and completion of the Creation, he said “very good”.
It’s a hugely pessimistic view.
Are there things that can change in the Church, such as unequal funding between young men and young women youth groups? Yes. But pointing out that Christ chose 12 men, that it was a man who prayed and restored the Gospel and the Church and saying that women should have the priesthood is a huge jump.
To assume that it is all cultural, Christ choosing the apostles as men, men being prophets, that women haven’t had the priesthood because in the thousands of years since the creation they haven’t asked for it, is to either look down on all the women of history for not asking that question, or that God himself is biased, when if women can have the priesthood, He could have very well given it to Eve too. He could have given the Aaronic Priesthood not just to all male levites, but he could have given it to the women.
I could be wrong. But it seems a slanted view to say that it is only the priesthood that prepares men to become priests and kings, to become like God. To say that is to ignore everything the scriptures have taught, that God sent man to the Earth to try him in every thing, to see if we will obey him. It puts aside trying to be Christlike, in which yes the priesthood can be a tool in achieving that, and puts the covenants we make in the temple off the side as well. If all we need is the priesthood to become priests and kings, then what need is there for the covenants, and the symbolism of crossing from telestial to terrestial to the celestial?
To have such a view of the priesthood is to misunderstand the Endowment, what it teaches. Obedience, keeping the commandments, living the covenants we have made, striving to be more christlike, that is what makes us priests and kings, queens and priestesses. It’s not the priesthood. The priesthood is a tool used to help accomplish the will of God, to help serve others. It’s not a qualifier for the celestial kingdom.
And thus women do have access to institutional and religious power to become queens and priestesses because they receive the endowment, they enter into the same covenants men do. They receive the same Gift of the Holy Ghost that men do. Because being tied together in a priesthood ordinance allows both man and woman to enter the presence of God, to becomes kings and queens. Because it can only be accomplished together.
The difference the priesthood makes isn’t what we are, or worthiness. It is a difference in how we serve each other.
“…you seem to be straining at the smallest of things.”
I find it ironic how so many can out of one side of their mouth say how trivial this is, and from the other side defend the status quo as it being God’s almighty will that is so vitally important.
“…I mean, to read Genesis 3 about man ruling over woman and leaping to the conclusion that women are 2nd class citizens ignores the creation of woman, that she is to be at the side of man, a helpmeet.”
Yes. Man is there and God says, Adam needs a helper capable of meeting his needs. God never tells Adam that he is a helper for Eve, because it was clear in Hebrew that Eve was more like Adam’s servant than equal.
“…To say that the first man was created, with a small addendum of “oh, and a woman” is to ignore that throughout the creation God said each aspect was good, but at the creation of woman, the culmination and completion of the Creation, he said “very good”.”
Wrong. He doesn’t say very good at the creation of woman. He sums up all the stuff he created and then at the end of the 6th day and all his work he says ‘very good.’
“…He could have given the Aaronic Priesthood not just to all male levites, but he could have given it to the women.”
Yes, this argument did a great job convincing the world that we weren’t racist or prejudice by denying priesthood and temple blessings to blacks. God said so.
“…I could be wrong. But it seems a slanted view to say that it is only the priesthood that prepares men to become priests and kings, to become like God. To say that is to ignore everything the scriptures have taught, that God sent man to the Earth to try him in every thing, to see if we will obey him. It puts aside trying to be Christlike, in which yes the priesthood can be a tool in achieving that, and puts the covenants we make in the temple off the side as well. If all we need is the priesthood to become priests and kings, then what need is there for the covenants, and the symbolism of crossing from telestial to terrestial to the celestial?”
This doesn’t seem to be helping your case at all. Men, with priesthood are prepared to become kings and priests unto God while women can be priestesses to their husbands (see Ezra Taft Benson’s April 1993 Ensign article). Aside from the many gender inequalities in the arena you’re treading in at this point, you seem to be making the case that the priesthood isn’t really very important.
“…And thus women do have access to institutional and religious power to become queens and priestesses because they receive the endowment, they enter into the same covenants men do.”
Well, try listening a little closer next time you’re in the temple, because there are in fact some differences in the covenants made there that establish a God->Jesus->Man->Woman hierarchy, and as noted in Benson’s ’93 article, the temple promises men they can be kings and priests to God (and some stuff about ruling and reigning), while women are simply promised they can be queens and priestesses to their husbands (and a notable absence about ruling and reigning).
I understand that you’re searching for a way to harmonize some current teachings with everything else in the church, but they can’t be harmonized. Here are some church teachings back when the message could be harmonized (prior to claiming that there is equality in marriage):
from President Howard Hunter:
“Of necessity there must be in the Church and in the home a presiding officer (see D&C 107:21). By divine appointment, the responsibility to preside in the home rests upon the priesthood holder”
Joseph F. Smith:
“There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher Priesthood, than that of the father. The authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the prophets who were inspired of God. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity. There is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.”
From the Ensign:
“Let us begin by saying that a Latter-day Saint husband or father presides over his wife and family in much the same way a bishop, stake president, or elders quorum president presides over the specific group to which he is called. Each acts with counselors and seldom makes decisions without carefully consulting those whom he calls to assist him.
A counselor may be chosen to officiate in the absence of the appointed leader, or, even in the presence of the leader, the counselor may conduct by appointment while the former presides. In a similar manner, according to President Smith, “in the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father.” He then explained why:
“… This patriarchal order has its divine spirit and purpose, and those who disregard it under one pretext or another are out of harmony with the spirit of God’s laws as they are ordained for recognition in the home. It is not merely a question of who is perhaps the best qualified. Neither is it wholly a question of who is living the most worthy life. It is a question largely of law and order, and its importance is seen often from the fact that the authority remains and is respected long after a man is really unworthy to exercise it.”
Imagine, for example, the confusion that would result if two bishops were appointed over your particular ward and the first one got up in sacrament meeting and announced that the following Sunday the sacrament meeting would be held one hour earlier. While he was making his announcement, suppose the second bishop stood up and expressed his desire that the sacrament meeting be held at the original time. With two people presiding, would democratic principles work? Suppose you had two stake presidents, two elders quorum presidents, two Sunday School presidents, two Primary and Relief Society presidents presiding over each of the priesthood quorums, groups, and auxiliaries. How would the Church function? Would “law and order” prevail? Similarly, should two people preside over each other in a marriage, particularly when one holds the priesthood and has been divinely designated to preside?”
Patriarchy isn’t the problem, bad patriarchy is the problem. Would the Feminists on this site consider the idea that you don’t need to throw out all patriarchal systems because some have been bad? After all, Christ himself ordained twelve men, Women work hand in hand in this process. As Brother Ballard said, “Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife.” Now that is good patriarchy.
And, the patriarchy found within the church government certainly doesn’t encourage or tolerate any of the ills often cited on this site as the fault of patriarchy. We have no slave trade of young girls, for instance, and a woman married in the temple has a better chance than any women on earth to a husband who will remain true to her for life.
In societies where patriarchy was thrown out for a gender neutral form of government, the women fared much, much worse than Church women.
Go read your history and current events. Gender neutral equality again and again is hostile to the idea of a nuclear family, and patriarchy tends to stabilize it. Gender neutral equality brings a chaos and decline of nations, like we are seeing in Scandinavia where gender neutral equality had led to 67 percent of children being born out of wedlock, with only one parent being active in their lives most of the time.
I realize that you are young and are just exploring ideas on this site, but goodness do you really realize the nature of the forces that you are supporting?
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