Hello readers! On July 19th/21st (deciding on an exact anniversary is hard) it was the fourth birthday of Young Mormon Feminists. As we have done semi-regularly/sporadically (semiregadically?), we put out a survey to the YMF community to better understand who’s here, what’s going well, and what could go better.
In the interest of full transparency and accountability and also because it was easier to just take screenshots, below are the results of the survey! Responses to the open-ended questions have been summarized to protect everyone’s anonymity. 109 people took the survey.
Everyone who helps keep YMF running will be reviewing and incorporating all this feedback to make YMF better– please feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly anytime if you ever have other questions/comments/requests. We’re a scrappy bunch with hectic lives and do our best to foster this community and appreciate your support.
10. What do you LIKE and/or DISLIKE about the YMF blog?
- LIKES: younger crowd and relatable content, varied perspectives on religion and feminism, helps people feel less alone, new perspectives on topics related to Mormon feminism, good resource for self-educating, posts are a good combination of topics, uncensored approach to Mormonism and feminism
- DISLIKES: lack of updated posts, lack of content from women of color and people outside of the U.S., too anti-Mormon (but also too religious), format is too plain, not enough posts and/or contributors to blog, some articles aren’t very well-written
11. What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard said from the pulpit?
Some gems included:
- A guy compared himself to Jesus because he bought roses for all the girls on his ballroom dance team
- Husband shared in a sacrament meeting talk that his role is like a Wonderbra – i.e. his job as a spouse was to “support, uplift, and magnify”
- “Levi Lovin'” as a way to describe dry-humping
- “Marriage is about cleavage” – statement made in regards to marriage and cleaving to your spouse
- A mother bearing testimony on behalf of her infant child
- There was 15 minutes of sacrament meeting left, so the bishop got up and read the scripture with the phrase “fruit meet unto repentance.” The bishop stopped, pulled out his deep-thoughts-Mormon-thoughts voice and asked, “Brothers and sisters, what do you suppose fruitmeat is?” He proceeded to ramble about the importance of fruitmeat in our gospel growth, clearly very impressed with himself for his profound understanding of the scriptures.
13. What do you LIKE and/or DISLIKE about the YMF Facebook group?
- LIKES: group at least tries to be a safe space for marginalized peoples and takes steps to make it so; policy of quickly booting people from the group who have a history of harassment; group helps members learn and recognize their privileges; an “invaluable resource” for teens in difficult family situations and for those attending BYU; relatable people; low level of moderation; safer space for people of color than other online spaces; “sarcasm and generally salty posts;” zero tolerance for oppressive language; honest tone of the group.
- “After discovering YMF I feel like I’m starting to really understand my privilege and intersectionality.”
- “I liked that it was one of the few places where people believed me, without skepticism, when I told a story of having been abused.”
- DISLIKES: privacy concerns due to moles in the past leaking info; conversations dominated by white, cis, straight people; cliquey vibe; desire for a more formal structure to handle problematic or hurtful viewpoints; hostility at times; group not active enough; getting called out for something is scary; too politically correct; miss the balance of humor and genuine conversation group had in the past; that men are allowed in the group and that they are sometimes/in some cases very vocal; rehashing same topics; some frequent posters drown out other voices; desire for more discussion of articles on the YMF blog; hostile environment to people who support the church; backlash to people who don’t use the “right” terms or language; miss feminist FHE and the spill-over discussions in the group; gender policing and assuming that someone who passes for a gender or race identifies accordingly.
- “I wish there was more conversation and comments from WOC as well as people raised and living outside of North America.”
16. If there was a particular issue or event that stands out as having radically transformed your relationship with the church in some way, please share briefly below what it was if you’re comfortable.
- Positively described issues/events:
- Being able to connect with immigrants and minority groups through the church; coming to see Joseph Smith’s humanity as a symbol of God’s willingness to work with us in our brokenness; mission and time at BYU cemented loyalty to the church; supportive family members and bishop who offered a safe place to learn and grow and be upset and angry without judgment; taking a university course on ethics and learning ways to discuss contradicting ideas; “God asked me to stay.”
- Negatively described issues/events:
*NOTE– over 1/4 of all respondents considered the November policy leak as a/the major event distancing them from the church.
- Other responses included feminism and LGBTQIA issues; historicity of the Book of Mormon and secretive history of the church; the excommunications of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin; teachings on sexuality and sin that made recovering from abuse more painful; #yesevenmormomwomen revealing more of how common abuse is in the church and how poorly it’s handled; racism in the church; worthiness standards; experience of reporting sexual assault at BYU; learning about Joseph Smith’s history of polygamy and targeting of young girls; feeling of betrayal at going through the temple for the first time; church’s stance on same-sex marriage and Prop 8; women and priesthood and Ordain Women; suicide of a family member; being considered extreme for asking simple questions; coming out or family members coming out; Heavenly Mother; serving a mission; BYU, the honor code, living in Provo; uncharitable members; bishops perpetrating sexual harassment, bishops disciplining members for having been sexually assaulted or raped; bishops threatening expulsion or discipline over Facebook content or expressing opinions on social/political topics; being sexually assaulted by a mission companion; CES letter; experiencing derision for marrying a non-member; mothers not being able to hold their babies during naming blessings; being a woman in STEM; feeling conflicted over pressure to be a stay-at-home mom vs a career; interactions with the Strengthening the Members Committee.
- “Policy change. They threw me off a high rise building, and they did it on purpose. It is very clear that they do not want me.”
- “Every day since [the November policy leak], I am reexamining my relationship with the church and whether I can morally be a part of it and whether God is part of it.”
“I had reached a point where I felt like I could be okay with thinking the Church was not the one true Church and that it had some major historical issues, but that on the whole it was good. Going to the temple changed everything. I then knew that the historical issues were still present and that the Church was not good, and that if this was truly what God was like then He was unworthy of worship.”
- “Years of not being valued as a real person. The church has no use for an introverted autistic woman.”
- “Realizing my sexuality and gender would make it so the church would never be safe for me. Ever.”
- “Ultimately, the temple has destroyed my testimony and confidence in a female divine self more than anything else.”
What things keep you feeling tied to Mormonism?
- Family, spouses, culture, heritage, mission ties, obligation, the music, faith and beliefs (expansiveness of Mormon theology, eternal families), the people, being connected and making contributions to a community of faith, ecclesiastical endorsement/attending a BYU school, rituals and ordinances, relationship with Christ, commitment to service and volunteering, personal revelation and spiritual experiences, fear of destroying eternal family if resigned, guilt, wanting to set an example that one can be a liberal temple-recommend holding member, the youth program having useful applications, hope the church will change, guilt for leaving when the church is providing needed assistance, activism in the church, fascination with Mormon history, free Ancestry.co membership, love of the temple
- “When I didn’t know who I was, I knew I was a Mormon. That’s very hard to let go of.”
- “I feel like Mormonism is my spiritual DNA. I access deity through the LDS lens. I love funeral potatoes and Heavenly Mother and the LDS view of the afterlife. I love the sanctification of the mundane. I love how service-oriented the church is. I love having a sense of belonging and family no matter where I go in the world because of church. I love the hope that is intrinsic in Mormonism and the thought of continuing revelation. I feel like even if there is no god, I will have been a better person because of what I have learned and lived through Mormonism.”
- “I don’t want my parents to blame themselves”
17. What could admins do to better organize/moderate/respond to issues with Young Mormon Feminists?
- Have a plan of action or formal way of addressing problematic posts in the group and the blog. Maybe add another admin. Address issues earlier but still allow mostly self-moderation. Discouraging personal attacks without tone policing [most people realize that this is challenging.]
- Some people feel like specific groups get marginalized over other groups. If there’s a way to make the atmosphere in the FB group and blog more equitable, we should find a way to take steps toward that direction.
Any final suggestions/thoughts/uncategorized opinions?
- If admins need help with stuff, you can ask people to sign up as a YMF volunteer. Don’t commit folks to anything specific upfront, just “if you’re willing to help out with x,y,z let us know and we’ll add you to a pool of volunteers.”
- “I don’t always feel brave enough to post the feelings I have that are not church-approved, so I am SO GRATEFUL that this group of YMF is out there, saying what I am too afraid to say (for fear of excommunication, rejection, or isolation), and making our voices heard”