This week, Cosmopolitan magazine published an article about a BYU sophomore “fighting the sex ban at BYU.” This story (and several that have followed) mentioned that it was finding a group called Young Mormon Feminists that galvanized her to action.
This sensationalized story misrepresents the character and mission of YMF and in so doing harms our work. As its founder, I’d like to set the story straight.
Young Mormon Feminists was organized in 2012 as a safe space for younger Mormons navigating issues of faith and feminism. We are not affiliated with BYU. We are not an on-campus club, nor do we have any official ties to BYU. At the same time, neither are we banned from campus as some stories have implied.
YMF seeks to support meaningful dialogue with the BYU community around issues impacting women, including but not limited to modesty rhetoric, sexual violence, racism, women’s role in the LDS Church, sexism in the workplace and higher education, and religious freedom. We host this blog, a Facebook group, and a Twitter feed. Each Monday night, we hold “Feminist Family Home Evening” off campus in Provo as well as in many locations across the country to provide a space where young people can share perspectives and learn. Our participants include highly observant LDS Church members as well as those in faith transition.
There are no organized efforts by YMF, or by any individuals that I know of, to challenge BYU’s policy regarding the law of chastity.
The enforcement of sexual chastity through the BYU campus honor code is a difficult subject and that enforcement has disproportionate impacts on women. But sensationalizing this issue does not help us. Rather than a story about one BYU student’s sexual choices, it would be nice to see the media cover the broader issues BYU’s Mormon feminists are tackling. At the very least, the media could cover how BYU’s policies relating to chastity negatively affect queer students, who are not allowed to hold their partner’s hand, on or off campus, without fear of discipline including expulsion.
Anyone interested in participating in or observing Mormon feminists’ endeavors for equality with an eye towards understanding and not just page clicks will thus see that we are more than a titillating news story about BYU’s restrictions on premarital sex, and I hope our readers of all stripes will keep that in mind.