Ask Mormon Girl: I’m a 31 year old Mexican Mormon and . . . feminist. Help?

First, dear readers, I want to thank you for the outpouring of support for the gay elder I wrote about last week.  Your letters are winging their way to him in an unnamed region of the globe.  Thank you for your words of kindness, courage, and compassion.

This week’s letter comes from a woman in Mexico.  I’ve been seeing more than a few of these lately.  Young women, usually.  Places like  Brazil and Russia.  The story is often the same.  They were hungry, courageous, willing to be different, tuned into the bigger questions, and looking for answers.  They found the LDS Church.  They gave their lives to it.  And then, complications materialized. As they do for most of us.  Sooner or later.

Here’s the letter:

I have been LDS since I was 19. I’m a convert. Now, I’m 31, single and studying for a masters in population and development. My story began as many here in Mexico. I met in high school a nice friend, and she turned out to be mormon. I did have mormon family but they were inactive and never spoke about church. So, I met the missionaries and got baptized really fast. My mom did too, few days after.

I can’t deny that I was happy and comfortable in and with the church. I even entered the Temple. I didn’t serve a mission, not even really had a plan about doing that since I’m a daughter of a single mother. And yes, that influenced in myw hole life and of course at church. I get really sad about the fact that I cannot get sealed with her (since she never married my father).

I served as an YW president in my ward for really a lot of years. Then, I was called as 1st counselor of YW in the stake; that’s when I saw the big difference between women’s and men’s opinions at church. Always, at our meetings our leaders asked for solutions for the problems that we were facing, but when we offered our opinion and/or solutions we weren’t listened to at all. Always, the main objective was to keep young men safe, not really our women and girls.

For example, one of my church friend´s mom suffered a terrible attack by her boyfriend. She was at the hospital for about 3 weeks; she´s still alive by God´s mercy. When I talked with our leaders about that, one said: “Well, it´s natural, she was doing not so good things in her life.”

That’s when I asked for help outside church, so that´s how I met a group of feminists in my town. Since then, I understand so many things. I understand that violence isn´t only physical, and then I realize that there was spiritual violence too. The saddest part is that I found that we suffered of that kind of violence at the church, at Jesus’s church.

Since that moment I became a little “cold” at church issues. I’m not attending every Sunday because I dont feel ok there. I think about teaching girls that virginity (virtue, what they like to call) is ALL is such a big mistake. I even stop attending temple because I don’t feel confortable with all the couple things (since I’m single…). Even I realize that I’m not the common Mormon girl, even worse, not the common Mexican Mormon girl. I decided to study International Relations and I LOVE politics. Of course, I don´t know how to close my mouth. Even worse, I choose to enter to the masters from going to Utah for a little while and maybe look for a husband. I cannot describe me as feminist, but I do notice the big differences and discrimination that we suffer for being women. And that not exclude what is going at church.

So, when I read about your book, your life, and another feminist Mormon women I didn´t felt alone anymore. Our Mexican culture is so patriarchal, can you imagine how´s church here? As I told you before, I’m doing my masters. In my sociology class I want to write my final paper about mormon feminism. Can you help me find resources?

Así que muchas gracias por leer todo este email. Perdón por los errores gramaticales pero traté de escribir todo muy rápido y concreto.

(Thank you for reading my email.  Forgive the grammar errors—I’m trying to write everything very quickly.)

Estoy muy emocionada por poder estar en contacto contigo, siento que en mi lucha y en mi camino no estoy sola. Han sido meses muy difíciles.

(I am very emotional being in touch with you, feeling that I am not alone in my fight and path.  These have been very difficult months.)

And here is my reply.  In Spanish.  Which I learned at BYU.  Please do not laugh at my Spanish.  It’s the future language of Mormonism.  I’m trying to practice it now. Even though I really don’t know how to make accent marks on my computer. Yet.

Hermana, no estas sola.  Estoy mandando mucho amor y affecion Mormon feminista. Puedo leer mejor que puedo escribir en español.  Please forgive my writing!

Lo que he experimentado es muy común para las feministas Mormón en todas partes. Y mujeres se han escrito sobre estas costas por cuarenta anos.

Aquí es un articulo de Dialogue, un journal académico de “mormón studies,” escrito por Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, un historian muy respetada, que discutir la historia del mormon feminismo:  http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V43N02_53_2.pdf

A principios de la década de 1970, hubo un movimiento de Mormón historiadores feministas que descubrieron los aspectos esenciales de la historia de las mujeres mormonas, incluyendo datos históricos que sugieren que las mujeres en la iglesia primitiva pudo haber gozado de más autoridad que lo hacemos hoy. Un excelente ejemplo de este trabajo es el libro Sisters in Spirit, editado por Maureen Ursenbach Beecher y Lavina Fielding Anderson.

En los años 1970 y 1980, las feministas mormones en la cara de EE.UU. y, a menudo luchó la oposición de la Iglesia a la legislación que apoya la igualdad de derechos civiles para las mujeres. Un mormón llamado feminista Sonia Johnson fue excomulgado en esta causa, y ella le contó su historia en el libro  From Housewife to Heretic.

Feministas mormones en la década de 1990 continuó explorando el potencial feminista de la teología mormona, incluida la cuestión del sacerdocio femenino y la realidad de la Madre Celestial. Algunos fueron excomulgados por sus escritos. Libros importantes de esta época son Women and Authority editado por Maxine Hanks and God the Mother por Janice Allred.

Después de las excomuniones, muchas mujeres tenían miedo. Muchas feministas dejaron la Iglesia, que parecía haber rechazado. Otros permanecieron en silencio. En pocos años, el feminismo mormón comenzó la reconstrucción de sí mismo en el Internet, como las generaciones más jóvenes, una vez más tomó estas preguntas vitales. Hoy en día, usted encontrará una gran fuente de conocimiento feminista a Feminist Mormon Housewives y Exponent  y Wave:

www.feministmormonhousewives.org

www.ldswave.org/

http://www.the-exponent.com/

Hay algunos recursos en espanol en el website de Afirmacion, un organizacion de LGBT Mormones:  http://www.afirmacion.org/articulos/existe_un_espacio.shtml

Y tambien aqui en portuges: http://vozesmormons.com.br/2012/12/13/machismo-no-mormonismo/

Aqui es la idea central del feminismo Mormon:  el movimiento Mormon fundado por Joseph Smith contiene verdades muy poderosa que promover la dignidad y igualdad de todas personas en los ojos de Nuestros Padre y Madre Celestial.  Nosotras hemos tenido experiencias fuertes con estas hermosas verdades.  Pero tambien hay elementos de la iglesia—aspectos de la burocracia, o el templo – que algunos Mormones sienten no afirmar la dignidad y igualdad.  Y cuando nosotras los encuentran, nos encontramos con contradiciones dificiles en el corazon de nuestro fe.  La maneras en que nosotras negociamos contradiciones van a estar muy personal a cada mujer Mormon.  Cada mujer Mormon debe hallar su propia repuesta. Pero ser un feminista Mormon es apoyar a sus hermanas feministas sin juzgando sus propias caminos.  Feminismo mormon es solidaridad.  Y tambien es conocimiento.  Es importante conocer nuestra historia como mujeres mormonas para darse cuenta de que no somos los primeros en enfrentar estas contradicciones y preguntas. Mujeres mormonas siempre han enfrentado a ellos, a veces con un espíritu de búsqueda tan grande como la que inspiró a Joséph Smith para entrar en el bosque sagrado.

(Okay, Anglo readers, I know you are DYING for a translation.  Here’s one paragraph –and get yourself to Google translate for the rest:  Here is the central idea of Mormon feminism:  the Mormon movement founded by Joseph Smith offers some very powerful truths that promote the dignity and equality of all people in the eyes of our Heavenly Father and Mother.  As Mormons, we have had strong experiences of these beautiful truths.  But there are also aspects of the church—its bureaucracy, or some aspects of the temple—that some Mormons feel do not affirm the equality or dignity of all people.  And when we enounter these, we encounter contradictions at the heart of our faith.  The way we deal with these contradictions is going to be very personal to every Mormon woman.  Every women must find her own answers.  But to be a Mormon feminist is to support your sisters  without judging their paths.  Mormon feminism is solidarity.  And it’s knowledge.  It’s important to know our history as Mormon women to know that we are not the first to face these contradictions and questions.  Many Mormon women before us have done so, at times with a  seeking spirit as powerful as that which led Joseph Smith to the sacred grove.)

Espero que aquellos que lean este blog puede ayudar a añadir más recursos y expresar su solidaridad a usted, querida hermana, a tu camino. Usted tiene la mía, y mi afecto.

Readers, do you have resources for our Mormon sister in Mexico?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

15 Comments

Filed under feminism

15 responses to “Ask Mormon Girl: I’m a 31 year old Mexican Mormon and . . . feminist. Help?

  1. Katherine

    Don’t forget askmormongirl…oh wait. :)

    There’s also http://youngmormonfeminists.org/

  2. Andrea

    No estás sola. El machismo mexicano y la desigualdad entre los géneros en la iglesia a mí también me han hecho daño. El sexismo nos hace daño a todos, a nosotras las mujeres pero también a los hombres.

    Dices que no eres feminista. ¿Quieres que las mujeres tengamos las mismas oportunidades? ¿Quieres vivir en un mundo donde no existe la violencia doméstica, el abuso emocional, la violación? ¡Felicidades! ¡Eres feminista!

    No vamos a erradicar la desigualdad sin ser valientes. ¡La solución no es conformarse, sino luchar! Me encantaría si existiera un movimiento feminista en la iglesia en México. A lo mejor tú puedes ser parte de ese movimiento, o tal vez la vida te va a dar otro camino. Pase lo que pase, quiero que sepas que tienes hermanas y hermanos que también estamos luchando.

  3. xenawarriorscientist

    Muchos tenemos este situacion, hermosa hermana, y navigarlo puede ser muy dificil. En verdad, encuentro mucha ayuda en la historia y las escritos de los lideres de derechos civiles mundial como Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, etc. Mexico tiene su propia tradicion fuerte de activismo, entonces probablemente conoces a otros que ya no conozco.

    Son personas que vieron problemas grandes, como nosotros vemos. (Hay muchos hermanos que no les gusta el anti-mujerismo de la cultura de la iglesia tambien.) Y estes personas articularon el problema y animaron a los otros a luchar con ellos por el cambio. Y despues de años de luchar, y poco por poco, ganaron.

    Por la historia de los derechos civiles en la iglesia- o sea, la historia de la eliminacion de la prohibicion de los de linaje africano del sacerdocio- lea blacklds.org. Es escrito para mormones de linaje africano, por los mormones de linaje africano (mundial, no solamente africano-americano). Tambien es un recurso muy ayudante por aprender las experiencias de otros de como vivir con, y trabajar para mejorar, a nuestra iglesia.

    Sí se puede.

    • anwar

      through my reading to many issues i realized much of the conflicts eccore due to generation diferences , ethinic and races conflict. why i think our faith is not that strong which enable us to go over all this issues and to be helpful for others whatever our ideas.no one is perfect all of us have our shortcomings.even if differ from others we shouldn’t stop going to worship places cuz we worshiped God alone and no one beside Him.

  4. Azul

    Como podemos ponernos tod@s en contacto? Yo soy Mormona Feminista, de 28 años, viviendo en Mexico y quiero que sepas que en verdad no estas sola en tu incomodidad y tu discomformidad. Honestamente, yo tambien e luchado mucho conmigo misma, y continuo haciendolo. Por lo que veo hay mas de nosotr@s y es alentador.
    Se de buen animo amiga- las cosas no son ideales, pero siento que el Señor nos a puesto en estos lugares para ayudarnos a hacer la diferencia. a ofrecer una voz diferente a la que se oye comunmente. Hay recursos, y hay maneras, y hay optimismo, y hay otr@s como tu amiga!
    Te quiero mucho (aunque no te conozca) y quiero que sepas que en verdad hay otr@s. Yo tambien e estado buscando, y mira! Te e encontrado! Y al ver los comenatrios que se encuentran aqui, me siento tan consolada. Somos hermanas y estamos juntas en esto!

  5. jan

    Here is a problem I am living with currently. My husband is from Peru. He has served for many years in various capacities in the Mormon Church. Many people look up to him as he has been a great leader in Peru. However, his family relationships with myself and our large family and his ex wife are far from parallel to The Proclamation to the World on the Family. I haven’t suffered physical abuse by him but I think I would prefer it to the emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse of which I endure. He was physically abusive in Peru to his ex wife though he won’t acknowledge it. I refuse to believe that it is a cultural thing because we know as members of the church that the “culture” of Jesus Christ and his teachings prevails above any other cultural attitude. Anyhoo, my feelings about the church have waned due to all of this.I prefer to not be married in the temple with him or share celestial polygamy with he and his ex-wife in the celestial kingdom. I prefer to divorce and be happy without all of this nonsense which has left a very bad taste in my mouth. I am now 52 and do not intend to live the balance of my life in this manner of abuse. So, I say to the Mexican Mormon who became alarmed when a sister in her ward was physically abused and the priesthood holders poo poo-ed it by saying she deserved it due to her actions; THEY ARE WRONG. No body NO BODY deserves to be abused. I imagine it wasn’t the first time. When Heavenly Father talks about Patriarchal order etc I know He is not referring to an order that includes such degrading attitudes and self serving ignorance and blatant narcissistic behavior. I feel for her. All this has me thinking that God is a feminist as well. Nah, feminism doesn’t really even need to be here in a perfect world. Love LOVE LOVE is the answer. The real problema is that people rarely truly know what LOVE IS. Not even my husband who served as a Bishop and a Stake President in Peru for 20 years.
    I am going to remain myself. I know who I am. I am going to call myself a feminist for the time being I guess until LOVE really does become the answer.

  6. Anya

    Muchas gracias a todas y todos.
    Me siento mucho más acompañada y animada. Los tiempos no son fáciles y el ánimo muchas veces se aleja. Pero yo estoy tratando de encontrar el camino donde pueda sentirme cómoda, feliz y segura de que el Señor está complacido con mis elecciones.
    Me encantaría conocerte Azul, estoy ahora en el DF, así que si coincidimos sería muy bueno. Me parece que pronto me pondrán en contacto contigo.
    Les mando abrazos y mis mejores pensamientos.
    Por cierto, soy la autora de ese correo enviado a Joanna!

    • Anon

      A pesar de no ser mormón, tu carta me emocionó mucho. ojalá hubiera estado en el DF para poderte conocer. Mucha suerte con todo, y estaré rezando para tí, y que sientas paz en tu corazón con tus decisiones.

  7. My Spanish stinks even though the rad ladies from Flor de Michoacan are soooo patient teaching me. Actually- i think they like laughing at my accent while i eat their heaven sent mango-chili paleterias! bueno

    it seems that all throughout time there have been cutting-edge boarder-line blasphemous brave women and men searching for their place, blazing their own path. I believe tHis is what our Father wants us to do. We want to find our path, find our value, we want to find knowledge. I think you are one of those people. and i love the power in that.

    SO many women i meet and talk to are eager to bulid on the paths that the women before us made. And as we do this we see that we’re connected with one one gigantic umbilical cord through the centuries back to our great Mother. She is the original feminist. This is our time. These are our lives. These are our discoveries. Our lives are like great puzzles and our brains and hearts have such a genuine way of leading us to gather all those pieces.

    YOu’re gathering your pieces right now, so am I.

    I don’t know much and struggle a lot with my own place in life but I do know our Father lays life and all it’s choices out in front of us. Then he lets us discover. You are a pioneer in your own right. Your questions, your struggles and your important discoveries are digging the ruts and the paths that other pioneers will follow.

    i didn’t mean to make such a long comment. i just meant to give you a high-5 and say how awesome i think you are.

    love, scabs

  8. AMG writes “the Mormon movement founded by Joseph Smith offers some very powerful truths that promote the dignity and equality of all people in the eyes of our Heavenly Father and Mother.” Well, we hear quite a bit of the other side here, the specifics of how people struggle with an organization that diminishes the dignity of gay people, treats women as less than equal, and fails to apologize for anything specifically during years of virulent racism. Yet this is not an ex-Mo, or a no-Mo, or an anti-Mo blog. What is it that keeps blog participants “Mo”? What, specifically, are the powerful truths the movement does offer that do promote dignity and equality?

  9. Julia

    Suerte en esta lucha y decision que tengas que hacer. Mi familia es hispana, aunque yo naci y vivo en los Estados Unidos. Mezclando el machismo hispanoamericano y el machismo de la iglesia— woo! es una mezcla bien poderosa y mala en mi opinion. Es terrible que todo lo malo se convierte en algo tan feo para mujeres. Hay tantas cosas buenas y bellas en la iglesia y en mi cultura latina– como la importancia de la familia. Yo decidi que no puedo vivir entre los dos- mi feminismo y la iglesia, entonces yo elegi el feminismo y mi identidad como mujer. Yo me siento mejor, como saque un peso de mi cuerpo… solo que lo siento mucho el dolor que causa a mi mama. Suerte y amor en tu decision, y si decides continuar in la iglesia, quiero ver tu nombre como la presidente de las feministas mexicanas mormonas ;)

  10. (Sorry my bad english, I hope that you understand)
    Your story is very similar to mine. I am 19 and counselor in young women… When I started college, I met many different people, last year a friend who is a church member, told me he was gay, and my thinking has changed a lot in relation to many things. Here in Brazil the members are still conservative in the extreme. I feel suffocated, I feel like the worst person because like you, I disagree with many issues in the church. such as homosexuality, the virtue and other issues. This week I put in my ears reamers. Sometimes I feel as if I was not mormon, but when I read this blog, I feel I am not alone and that’s good. God bless you and Joanna Brooks …:)

  11. Lucy

    I loved this post and felt a tug at my heart since I too am Mexican and Mormon. Not only is the culture complex, extremely patriarchal, but mix it with Mormonism, and you have a horrible match. If anything, I want to offer support and love. You are not alone in your quest and I love that you studied a difficult subject! Eres una mujer fuerte y tu ejemplo LR ayudara a muchas mujeres que te rodean. No te des por vencida. Te mando amor y muchos buenos deceos.

  12. lds

    BUENO AL LEER EL ARTICULO Y TODOS Y CADA UNO DE SUS COMENTARIOS. Y RESPETO SUS SENTIMIENTOS E IDEAS, MAS SIN EMBARGO YO NO VEO UNA DESIGUALDAD EN CUANTO A TRATO, POR SER MUJER U HOMBRE, INCLUSO AHORA MAS QUE NUNCA LOS LIDERES LES EXHORTAN A ESTUDIAR SIN CONSIDERAR GENERO. Y SI REALMENTE CREEMOS QUE ES LA IGLESIA VERDADERA, QUE DIOS RESPONDE ORACIONES, LA LUCHA NO ES AQUI EN LA TIERRA, SINO DEBE SER ATRAVES DE LA ORACION Y LAS ESCRITURAS, RECUERDEN QUE SOLO DIOS PUEDE CAMBIAR LAS COSAS.SALUDOS.

  13. Anya

    Thanks for all your posts!!!
    I´m sure that God loves us no matter our sex. But not all of our brothers (and sisters, too) share that idea, often, they don´t realize that they are hurting us with their words or/and actions. We need to rise our voices!. We´re in this life to share LOVE.

    Gracias de nuevo a todos y todas. Comparto mi testimonio de que Dios nos ama, no importando los errores que tengamos. Estoy segura que ser mujer es un privilegio divino y una gran responsabilidad, pero eso no me hace perfecta, pero sí me da derecho de reclamar un trato igualitario. Es triste ser discriminada en la Iglesia de Cristo, es por eso que debemos expresar nuestras ideas y deseos. Cristo, estoy segura, que quiere que seamos felices y que nadie NADIE nos lastime. De igual forma debemos encontrar una forma de seguir en el Evangelio sin que nuestros sentimientos sean lastimados por siervos del Señor. Amo mucho al Señor, no sé si en la misma intensidad que Él a mi, pero trato a diario con mis acciones de mostrarle mi amor.

    Anya

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