Ask Mormon Girl: Time to come out of the closet as a Mormon feminist. How do I tell my husband?

Over the last couple of years I feel I have been transforming. I am no longer the completely accepting Mormon woman, who accepts all the teachings of the church as truth, and just say, “I’ll understand it in the eternities. Don’t worry about that now.” I think I started to see something going on within myself when I lived in California during the Prop 8 stuff and was not in alignment with what seemed to be every other Mormon’s opinion. I started reading Feminist Mormon Housewives at first because it appalled me a little. But then I actually started to agree with some of the things that I was reading. Then I started reading Ask Mormon Girl and recently added Young Mormon Feminists. I had a realization that I actually AM a feminist.

My problem is  . . . How do I come out of the closet?

My husband is not completely traditional in his beliefs and opinions. Right now, he is a stay-at-home dad, and I am the bread winner. But overall, he is a fairly traditional Mormon man. I keep worrying that he will see the blogs I read and discover that part of who I am and it will be a major “thing” between us. Do I just come out and say it? Or do I give it to him gently? And if it is gently… how would I do that?

TR

Welcome, sister suffragette!  Want to break the news to husband . . .  gently?  Try some PANTS, perhaps.  Wear them.  To church.  And then to bed.   With your matching “Well behaved women seldom make history” t-shirt.  While reading your copy of Mormon Enigma.  And sporting a grumpy look on your face.  With the covers pulled up to your chin. That should do the trick, right?

I kid, I kid.  But I hear you: this can be scary. I know there are many, many closet Mo feminists out there who crash their browsers and clear their histories after reading FeministMormonHousewives.org in case someone finds out they might be a Mormon feminist.

And my question is:  why?  Why in the world does this feminism word make knees quake and quiver?  Whence the powerful stigma?  We are talking, after all, one of the most rational and accomplished mass movements of the modern era.

This is the movement that won women the vote.  The right to own property.   The right to represent themselves in legal affairs.  Access to education.  Access to higher education.  Birth control.  Family planning.  Family medical leave. (Even though SHAMEFULLY the United States is one of only 8 nations in the world still without paid maternity leave.)   Domestic violence shelters and anti-violence legislation.  Equal pay.   Equal access to school-based sports.  (Really, just getting started here.) You like democracy?  Girls’ soccer?  Breast cancer research?  Feminists say:  you’re welcome.

The charge attached to the Mormon feminist label goes even deeper.  Say Mormon feminist and all of the sudden people A) cannot compute; cannot wrap their minds around the concept, or B) run to all sorts of fearful extremes, like a “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” from the Book of Mormon musical, but this time with Sonia Johnson chaining herself to the gates of the Seattle temple, polyandry, diaphragms, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, and all sorts of dancing TROUSERS!  Trousers on fire!

Truly, it’s a crazy kind of power that happens when you say the words: I’m a Mormon feminist. It’s like telling people you are a unicorn.  A real live unicorn! BAM! I just blew your mind.  Just by existing.  With a smile.

And you might say that mind-blowing is the point of the whole feminist enterprise.  For at its philosophical roots, feminism is an existential project.  Translation:  feminism is about confronting absurd misconceptions that shape day-to-day human behavior and keep us all—men and women–from being our grandest, most joyful and knowledgeable selves.  It’s about setting those absurd misconceptions aside.

Case in point:  remember that feminism is the movement that (especially in the quarters where it is needed) continues a quiet, respectable, and unfailing advocacy for frankness about the existence of God’s creation the clitoris.  And I know you may be blushing just to see that word on a blog.  Truth be told, I blush to write it because I know my mother and people from my ward read this and I just typed the word clitoris.  But really, why should I be ashamed to type the word clitoris? Let’s confront that stigma right now.  What is shameful is not the clitoris but the fact that many women have no idea that intercourse alone does not work for many women.  I am truly not trying to be provocative.  It’s just an important yet often occluded fact of women’s health and marital well-being.  It has to be said. AND FEMINISTS SEEM TO BE THE ONLY PEOPLE CONSISTENTLY SAYING IT.  (Like my friend the Mormon Therapist Natasha Parker Helfer, whose article here you might read if this paragraph is news to you.)

All of this is to say that the shaming of what is not shameful is a powerful weapon.  And it needs to be dismantled with grace, confidence, and humor.  Whoever taught you to be ashamed of feminism was not your ally.  Truly, the same might be said for whoever taught you to be ashamed of the word clitoris.

It’s up to you to put that all behind you.  And who better to do it with than your husband?  He is your husband!  The one who promised to love you always and always.  The one with whom in all likelihood you’ve shared much more unpleasant conversations—about taxes, or bills, or difficult in-laws.  Really, you don’t have a dread disease.  You have feminism!  You’re taking your place in a long and noble lineage that spans Eliza R. Snow to Emma Lou Thayne to Claudia Bushman and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich to you and me.

Try not to worry.  Have some fun with it.  Project shamelessness.  Project humor.  Project confidence.  Take him by the hands and say:  “Of course, I’m a feminist, dear.  Somewhere deep inside you’ve always known it.  And truly, it’s one of the things you’ve always loved about me.  I know you love girls’ soccer, and voting, and equal pay for equal work, and breast cancer research. (Perhaps, too, you like the clitoris?)”

Then, give him a peck and a squeeze, and go about your business.  Keep on  learning, and asking hard questions, and growing—every day, every step, and claim him as your beloved ally.

Because feminism, oh, sister, it’s not the end of the world.  It’s just the beginning!

And, you–dear readers–time to ‘fess up.  Who here is hiding their feminist light under a bushel, even at home?  Who is crashing the browser every time husband (or mom, or dad, or roommate) walks into the room?  And why?

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

About these ads

64 Comments

Filed under feminism

64 responses to “Ask Mormon Girl: Time to come out of the closet as a Mormon feminist. How do I tell my husband?

  1. I’m getting frustrated with many of the blogs here. So much talk about feminism! I have a wide circle of friends–most non-LDS–and we don’t talk about feminism. We’re too busy talking about ideas, movies, PBS, etc. I’m LDS; I don’t want a LDS marriage (LDS men…so many, in my experience, are goofy little boys who want control; so many LDS women marry so young without really understanding marriage and its responsibilities… And, then, they have babies, usually too quickly, and then want the freedom they needed to have sought out in their 20′s when most were at BYU primping and looking for the “right” man. Mormon culture is weird and unhealthy. I stay in the church because of the spiritual experiences I’ve had, not for the craziness of the culture or the dysfunctional LDS community! So grateful I can step away from all this crazy-making. Sorry!

    • Jude49,

      Please don’t confuse this blog with the LDS religion. There are lots of us who are strong women, who know why we’re here and where we’re going. We don’t whine about meaningless travesties that are more pretended than real. Most of all we are sure in our knowledge, strong in our faith, and not tossed about by every wave of the sea.

      • Opinionscount

        Jude,
        My husband and I are LDS converts. We see things differently than many LDS members who have been in the church for generations. We have seen many positive aspects of Mormon families as well as some of the problems that are mentioned in this blog. Recently we were offered callings in our Ward. Both my husband and I felt they had our callings reversed. They had to ponder this and get back to us because it was not a matter of a simple switch. It wasn’t like one was a Priesthood calling. I’ve always believed, and still do, that callings are a revelation not only to the Bishop, but also to the person receiving the callings. I said that is what separates our religion from being a cult. It wasn’t like we were turning it down it was more like we just felt it would be better if my husband had the calling I was given and I had the calling he was given. We are waiting to find out what the decision will be. Apparently it’s not just women who don’t speak up, but even the men in the church may be confusing tradition with revelation. Personally I prefer to wear a dress to church because I wear pants to work every day. I like getting dressed up for church. I also like seenig my husband in a suit and tie. That is a tradition I don’t mind keeping.

    • Katherine

      “Crazy-making”?! If anything is making me crazy it’s your post. You’re really saying that you’re too busy talking about ideas- and that a) somehow feminism is not an idea (it is- one of the greatest ever!) and b) that PBS is more important than the equal rights, equal political, economic and educational participation of half of the population?! Wow. That’s shameful and sad.

      • A couple of decades ago the U.S. gave aid to an underdeveloped country. The “aid” was a monetary investment in some proposed cash crops. So the men took the money and grew cash crops which they then were able to sell back to the U.S. for a very low price. It was expected to be a win win until it was realized that this deal which was meant to help the poor for the most part only helped out the men who more often than not used the money gained from the cash crop on liquor and entertaining women. The women with children actually became worse off from this situation because not only did they not benefit from the extra income (since they had no rights to it) – the land they had previously used for subsistance farming (gardens to feed themselves and their children) had been taken over by the men and turned into cash crops. They were left with less access to food and even more dependent on their husbands than before the aid agreement took place.

        A woman in Africa was interviewed for a documentary. She stated how she was scared for her life because she knew her husband was sleeping with other women. With AIDS being rampant in her country she thought it was only a matter of time before he contracted the virus and passed it on to her. This woman could not leave because she was dependant on her husband as she had children with him and could not take care of herself and the children on her own.

        An early feminist once claimed that as long as women have uteruses they will always be slaves. I think I see her point. Women who have children need support – they always have and they always will. By having children women are automatically placing themselves in positions of vulnerability. Fair or not – that is what nature has dished out. For some the answer to this problem of vulnerability is to somehow eradicate the vulnerability (by simply not choosing to bear children or by other means). I see this as a naive and impossible goal because as long as women have uteruses they will always be… disadvantaged. I think the Mormon church understands this reality and actually supports and liberates women in the face of what some may see as the cruelty of nature.

        An LDS man is taught from very young that he gets to choose ONE woman to have sex with – his wife. He doesn’t get to have sex with however many partners he chooses. He is told to love her and respect her and take care of her. He is told to be involved at home and to really show up as a father. He is told his wife is his partner and that he must put her needs and the needs of his family before his own. He is told that he must do his very best to provide for his family. In his temple recommend interview he is asked if he has any children that are not currently living with him and if so is he taking care of them as well? How much of his extra income is to go to liquor, gambling, drugs or other women? None – not one penny because he is told he is not allowed to drink even one drop of alchohol, he certainly doesn’t gamble and of course any drugs are totally out of the question. What about spending some money on porn? – a purchase which most men indulge in and don’t even think twice about. Forget it – our men are told over and over that pornography is evil. Don’t touch it – they are told it is because not only are you disrespecting your wife by looking at it – you are disrespecting those women who are posing for it – daughters of God whose bodies deserve respect. And as for their free time – what free time? Any married active LDS man with children gets to hold down a full time job, help out as much as they can at home and with the other spare minutes that barely remain they get to spend it fulfilling their church assignments. Just last Sunday my husband took our baby into his Elders Quorum presidency meeting, I saw another man in a sharp dark suit holding a little baby with a baby toy strapped to his belt. Another husband got up and delivered a talk (which took time to prepare). He spoke for 20 minutes on the importance of patience and how important it is for us to practise patience with our families. While other men were perhaps golfing, or playing football or watching TV, the LDS men in my ward were in suits and ties, struggling with their toddlers during sacrament meeting, carrying babies around and dedicating their time to pondering the importance of patience and love.
        And when they mess up they get to sit infront of a bishop (who could be doing a million other things with his time) and talk about making things right in their lives and drawing closer to their Saviour so that they can serve their families and their communities with perfect love.

        I am not saying that “mormon feminists” don’t have some important things to say.

        I am saying that I completely understand that there are many women in the church who don’t feel like they’re getting the shaft and when they hear
        women complain about how unfair and unequal the church is, perhaps they want to roll their eyes a bit because an LDS woman who wants to get married and have children and be supported in that choice by their husbands – is totally pampered relative to what many other women are experiencing around the world. Many LDS mothers feel that what the church teaches and offers them is protection from their places of inherent vulnerability.

        So I think one thing we should all be able to agree on is that there are more ways than one of looking at the issue of the welfare of women and just because someone doesn’t align themselves with feminists doesn’t mean they don’t care about women’s issues.

  2. abigayle

    Are people really afraid of talking about clitorises?! Clitorii…? Sorry, I’m a little fuzzy on that pluralization. But, really? Married adults?! That’s just silly.

    I’ve always been confused and saddened by the Mormon fear and disgust associated with the word, “feminism,” as if it were synonymous with denying the Holy Ghost or something. Any man or woman who believes that God created man and woman as equals is a feminist. And I do believe that is the doctrine of the church, as woefully as it may be misrepresented by the culture.
    My two cents would be to start out the the term, “egalitarian.” That is the term my husband prefers. It’s less… feminine. :) Maybe he’d be more willing to embrace your position if it were clear that fairness and equality of the sexes lies at its heart.

    • Amy

      But I remember when the feminists protested conference and they were thrown out of the conference center and the prophet then thanked them for leaving. Our past prophets have said that being a feminist is wrong. It’s a good thing that these times are changing even within the church. I look forward to much more change.

      • Kathy Datsko

        Is there a link we can go to about this?

      • Amy

        I wouldn’t know how to search for that link. It was in the 70′s sometime…when the church came out against the Equal Rights Amendment. That was what was being protested. I was quite young but remember it clearly–so have no idea how to find what year it would have been. I couldn’t understand what was so wrong with women having equal rights…

  3. If you think of the state of the art of modern feminism and the current realities of Mormonism, then “Mormon feminist” is an oxymoron, However, if you think of feminism as a direction, then the starting point can be anywhere…even for husbands.

  4. Nothing to add really. Well, there probably is and I’m sure others will add. I look forward to any added perspectives. Really enjoyed reading this blog entry. And being male, not just because you mentioned (several times!!) the clitoris :)

  5. Ted Olsen

    Maybe your husband will be comforted in knowing he is married to brave, smart woman. I am.

    • love this. thank you! feminism should be freeing for men as well, right?

    • I can completely relate to this woman’s concerns as I have gone through the very same thing. It is just really hard to tell the people you love most that you are changing into someone different from the person they have known. And for a while I just needed time to gather the strength to deal with this emotional turmoil. But, I became so hidden that I eventually needed a counselor to point out that I couldn’t monitor other people’s feelings (it was up to them not me to feel happy, sad, mad at who I was evolving into), that I was sending my husband the message I didn’t trust him to handle my evolution, that married couples are separate people sharing a life together and we need to allow each other our separate progressions, and that my hiding a part of myself was ultimately incredibly destructive to my marriage. I’m not going to lie, this is no easy journey. But I am far happier and complete now and I believe my husband is too (but I’ll let him speak for himself). Best of luck to you!

    • Opinionscount

      Sometimes I think my husband is more outspoken about the Mormon feminist movement than I am. It really bothers him that they have so many great programs for the boys in our church than they do the girls. We only had one child. My husband worked from home and took her to school and church functions. I worked outside the home. We have always been comfortable with those roles. He respects me and I respect him. We are converts to the church.

  6. Connie

    If the relationship has open communication, the husband already knows you’re a feminist.
    “I worry he’ll read the blogs……find out who I really am….”
    Really? Put on your big girl pants and have a discussion

  7. Lauren Ard

    When I first told my husband I didn’t have the right words. I hadn’t identified that I was a liberal-thinking Mormon and instead interpreted it as, “I’m losing my testimony.” Of course wording it this way upset my husband greatly! That evening was hard for both of us. However, after that one evening we haven’t had any more difficult moments, because, in practice, our life is the same as it always has been – I continued to go to church, do my calling, and support his calling in the bishopric. And I slowly grew to understand (thanks to Joanna Brooks’ book and the FMH blog) that my testimony was not extinguishing, just evolving!

    Since I continue to attend church and generally do Mormon stuff, since then my husband has had no issues with my feminist Mormon stuff. He was mildly bemused when I started wearing pants to church. He was thoughtful when I pointed out that women have never prayed in general conference. He is mildly apathetic when it comes to doctrinal issues (he has a “God will work it out” sort of stance).

    So, my thought is to avoid labeling or “coming out” in one big moment. The word “feminist” has unpredictable and weird connotations and you never know what a person’s perception of that word is. And definitely don’t tell him anything like you’re losing your testimony! Instead, ask him about specific issues you have with doctrine. Think of all the new conversation ideas you have now! Spend one conversation talking about women and the priesthood, another conversation about Heavenly Mother, yet another about the history of women in the church, etc. Chances are he’ll be fine with these conversations, and afterwards he will know where you stand without needing to put a label on it that he might misinterpret.

    Above all, keep your chin up! Even though I feel I initially went about it the wrong way, in the end my marriage is stronger than ever, because I know what is important for my husband in terms of being a Mormon. I discovered that for him, as long as I continue to go to church, everything else is an acceptable deviation. Your husband may have different priorities than mine, but if you discover what principles/actions are the most important to him (and continue to do those things), it will help you be a feminist while minimizing conflict in your marriage. I hope that makes sense!

    • Opinionscount

      The problem I have with the word feminist is that since I grew up in the Hippie era I always associated feminists with lesbians. I have nothing against lesbians, my brother is gay. I just didn’t want people to think I was a lesbian, especially women, because I prefer being a feminst married to my husband. It was Proposition 8 that brought my brother and I closer together. He is not LDS, but he will defend the LDS religion when another gay person puts it down because he understands why I am a Mormon.

  8. I’m in a similar life situation–my husband is a stay-at-home dad and I’m the bread winner. He helped me discover my inner-feminist and is very supportive. Sometimes though, I can tell he’s afraid of where this will lead. How extreme will I become? So I try to be as open as possible about how I feel and what I’m thinking to limit his concerns. Having him to talk to about Mormon feminist ideas helps me feel much less alone.

    Don’t be afraid. Like Joanna said, he loves you. Maybe try to tell him how you discovered this about yourself so he can see that it is something you take seriously and have thought a lot about, that you have sincere reasons for believing as you do.

  9. I honestly don’t understand what being a feminist means anymore. There was a time when feminist goals and beliefs were pretty clear. Now? I feel like an eskimo coming to terms with the fact that in English there is only one word for snow.
    Ann Critenden who has written one of the most important books of our time “The Price of Motherhood” talks about how many inroads the feminist movement has made for women yet mothers seem to still be left stranded, unsupported. She states that the taking care of our children is truly the most important goal we can have as a society. Yet, mothers and other caretakers are still at the bottom of the nations priority list even after so many feminist victories. It’s a brilliant read.
    Leslie Bennetts (a stanch feminist) wrote “The Feminine Mistake: Are we giving up too much.” She seems to have a different view of where the feminist movement should be going. She chides women who choose to stay home with children instead of vigourously pursuing a career and shames them for lazily giving up on our feminist forerunners. She criticizes this new third wave of feminism that seems to be lulling our women into thinking that full time child rearing is a noble pursuit rather than an ignorant, irrational, offensive mistake.
    In the book “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the age of Anxiety” Judith Warner claims we mothers haven’t really gotten that far since Betty Frieden wrote “The Feminine Mystique” The same sort of feelings are being expressed by mothers, who in America seem to be as lost as ever.
    Then of course online I’m reading so many different versions of feminism my head is starting to spin.
    And whose to say. Whose the person who decides what feminism means and what it doesn’t mean. And if it means a hundred things what value as a word does it really have?
    “feminism is about confronting absurd misconceptions that shape day-to-day human behavior and keep us all—men and women–from being our grandest, most joyful and knowledgeable selves. It’s about setting those absurd misconceptions aside.”
    Whose to say what is a misconception and what is not? Whose to say what is keeping us from being our most grandest, most joyful and knowledgeable selves. People can’t even agree on what equality means or would even look like if we were to truly get there. Perhaps that is why some Mormon women shy away from the word feminist – not just because they are ignorant, backwards, tunnel vision thinkers.

    You don’t have to declare yourself as a feminist. You do have to communicate your ideas and beliefs to your husband and maybe ask him how he feels about these things. You could start sentences with “Have you ever wondered why in the church we……” You don’t have to own the whole feminist establishment. You do have to own your own experiences as a woman. You don’t have to use feminist language. You do have to be honest and thoughtful and respectful of other points of view because there are a lot of them out there.

    • slsdm

      Excellent. I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you.

    • Dani

      You’re to say what feminism means and what it doesn’t mean. Each of us is, individually. I chose not to marry or have children. I have struggled defining my place within the sphere of Mormonism my whole life — and how my place mirrors and rejects the choices of my grandmothers and their sisters. For me, this is what it means to “work out my own salvation.” It probably will be like this for the rest of my life — and I accept this. It’s made the journey all the more fascinating. But be warned — it’s also made it heartbreaking. The term “difficult” doesn’t begin to describe my situation. Still, I am satisfied that the outcome will have been worth it, because I have faith (a word, I fear, we overuse to the point of near meaninglessness) that this is the path my Creator and I worked out together. I hope your exploration is equally as interesting as mine.

    • Opinionscount

      When it comes to men and women I like to think of it as we are equal, but different because we are different then men.

  10. I’ve felt the same struggle as I’ve “come out” to my family about my feminist beliefs. I’ve found that they’re mostly accepting. Once you’re able to explain what you really truly believe it actually acts as a moment of “missionary service” for the feminist movement. They’re able to realize that you’re not really any different, you are just more aware of the difficulties women face in the church.

  11. I was talking to my friend James J Flannery. We were in his bar and he said, “If you believe god created you do not belittle that work by being subservient to any authority beyond your own mind.” I ask him who wrote that? He said, I did. Then he added, “That’s the challenge, common sense.” And I said, “You write that too? He said, “No. Chris Matthews did. James J recommended I read this new book, The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott. He said, “It is about this dude has the same problem you do, once you start thinking your screwed. You are starting to take back your own mind.
    I found holding hands helped me soften the blows when I had to tell my wife things that might hurt her.
    http://www.michaeloborn.com

    • Dani

      Beautifully — and courageously — put. We fear we hurt each other constantly. And the truth is, we do. Sometimes, however, the welts that result from those blows can become the magnificent scars that help us identify each other in the darkest of nights. Even the risen Savior of us all had to hold out his marred palms before his own disciples recognized him…

  12. thejpearson

    Reblogged this on A Usual Mistake and commented:
    A lighthearted but sincere discussion about being a Mormon Feminist.

  13. justshan

    I have been wondering lately about the roles of gender in marriage and how that shapes our identification as Feminist. If you are in a marriage where you are valued as a woman and an individual, are you more likely or less likely to identify with feminist ideas? I have seen so many woman in Mormonism and in other Evangelical religions who are marginalized by husbands and religious leaders. They think it is ok because they feel value or protection in the relationship and have no interest in change. I think that my own feminist awakening was possible because I am in a marriage where that has been welcomed even before I was ready to identify in that way. Initially I was far more conservative than my husband and now those positions have shifted and are coming to the center.
    My advice is: Embrace the journey, don’t label your ideas-just follow them and they will bring greater depth to your life. Read many ideas and be courageous in thought. The rest will follow… Good and bad. :)

  14. Kathy Datsko

    Can I offer a sincere suggestion?
    1) Get alone with the Lord, where you have time and won’t be interrupted.
    2) Sincerely repent of ways that you have sinned (yes, unknowingly) in the past. Repentance is good for the soul and gives you a clean slate if you truthfully approach the Lord to repent. Did you judge feminists in the past? Did you in the past try to shove those uncomfortable questions under the rug? Deny your own agency to fit into the peer-pressured culture? Care about what people thought rather than what God thought? Whatever sins the Lord reveals, sincerely repent of them.
    3) Feel, and bask in the cleansing power of Christ.
    4) Atonement in the Greek/Hebrew means covering. Your sins are not just covered. Receive, and bask in the incredibly freeing and cleansing that is offered by Christ for all sins; His blood *will* wash you clean, you will have a fresh clean slate if you truly repent. You will not just feel covered. Covering is nice. Being totally clean and free is better.
    5) Ponder on what your testimony actually is. Do you know that the Book of Mormon is from God? That the Gift of the Holy Spirit is real? Solidify within your own mind what you *know* is true. Remind yourself of these things.
    6) You are now prepared to go forth and day-by-day try to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost to do what He leads you to do. It matters not if it is writing letters, asking questions, wearing pants, wearing a baby bjorn so that you can be in the blessing circle, whatever. The Lord will guide you.
    7) Repeat steps 1-6 over and over.

    Your husband loves you dearly. He will be glad when you are able to live with more liberty and joy. He may already know deep down that something has been going on. He will most likely be thrilled to know what it is.

    • Connie

      Just guessing you’re not a feminist or a supporter of feminism. Your input is a dead give away.

      • Connie: I know Kathy. And I’m pretty sure your assessment is actually wrong. I read her comment as being very thoughtful and searching. It suggests that we should overcome our fear by working with God in prayer. That doesn’t sound anti-feminist to me.

      • Kathy Datsko

        Connie,
        I’m a born again Spirit-filled Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian who came into the LDS Church 10 years ago because the Holy Spirit, whom I have loved since I was 24 led me here. I’ve known and loved Jesus since I was 16, and tried to follow Him my entire life. I was baptized in 2002, endowed in 2003, a month later my husband was baptized, and we were sealed in 2004. We go to the temple regularly. I could not stay within this oppressive culture if I did not have the gift of tongues which I received at age 24. Praying in tongues regularly gives me the strength to live with the full knowledge that I was willing to give up worship, the wonderful presence of the Lord in our services, the gifts of the Spirit, including tongues, Word of knowledge, laying on of hands healing (yes, a brain tumor disappeared after I joined several others and we all laid hands on on a friend’s head and prayed), etc. to gain the Book of Mormon and the LDS Gift of the Holy Spirit and the sealing ordinance. I would come into the Church again even though we have lost so much: We had prophetesses in our other churches, priestesses, and 50% of all the leadership was women. My husband was told by MD Anderson Cancer Center that research had shown that the very strange cancer he contracted two years ago was most likely caused by a traumatic loss. We immediately knew the “loss” was the presence of Jesus, the worship and Power of the Holy Spirit that we willingly sacrificed to obtain the Restoration. He was sobbing last week again- from the pain of missing the Holy Spirit in this our “new” church. He has the gifting and anointing to help invite the Holy Ghost in, through worship, and his gift is not welcomed. It is not in the almighty Manual.

        We have sacrificed all things, including family *and* liberty for both women and men – and come into a camp where everyone is afraid to even
        talk to the Holy Spirit – but just talks about duties and obeying the commandments and the leadership. I know the Restoration is true. I *know* the Church is not. The Church will only be true when all are encouraged to embrace their agency and follow the Lord with all their hearts, rather than just follow the Prophet (who is an ‘honest but imperfect man’ as Neil Andersen stated in Oct Conference).

        Is feminism so narrow that I don’t fit in? I don’t think so!

      • Dani

        This is more of an observation — not a suggestion, and by no means endowed with anything akin to what many faithful members would define as “authority.” My family history in the church goes back to its roots in the East, with J. Smith, and recently, in reviewing various family history documents, I’ve noted several first hand accounts of faith healing practiced within the context of early Mormonism, anyway. I bring this up to imply that we needn’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” to use a tired (but often accurate) maxim. If the spirit moved you to such endeavors, why abandon them because you have found a different location in which to worship? The same holds true for the notion of feminism and its myriad meanings and implied practices, I think. The spirit testifies to each of us individually. We should use those precious, deeply personal gifts (I use “personal” in the sense that our Father sees us in our utter fulness, knowing us, personally, as no mortal can) freely — regardless of how others around us perceive those actions or our behaviors. Christ offered himself up to us — for us — that we might have — and exercise — free agency. Is it not the highest form of blasphemy to devoid ourselves of that bestowal? Just a thought…

      • Connie

        Point taken however, this blog seems to embrace new ideas, entertaining the unpopular and previously unspoken
        Kathy’s initial reply sounded like…. A woman, giving the same old answer,,,,blah, blah, we’ve heard over the years….mundane & repetitive.
        Now, with Kathy’s additional information, experience and a conversion story,,, frankly, I would have expected a better answer! Personally, I enjoyed the new information!
        As a result, I retract my last comment (-:

    • Kathy Datsko

      Same answer, in a nutshell: Take the time for deep and sacred fellowship with the Lord. Drink of His love and grace. Ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration, then go forth with faith and boldly do what you feel is your True Calling. And I’m not talking about Church “assignments”.
      The Holy Ghost has a marvelous sense of humor and will continually give us creative ways to shine the Light of Christ into the dark corners of damning traditions of man that are mingled with scripture and have kept men and women bound within this Culture far too long.

    • Opinionscount

      When I discovered my independence many years ago my husband did not like it. He used to make comments that I acted like I was single instead of married. It wasn’t until I became indendent that my husband really respected me for who I am. It was overcoming my own insecurities that brought respect. It was not an easy journey, but it was worth the trials.My husband did not love me dearly during those trials, but he does now because he knows I love him. God doesn’t do it for us. We have to do the work and the faith will follow if we have the desire to become who we are meant to be.

  15. Melinda B.

    I’m not a feminist because there are too many silly definitions for it. I’m good with my own label, a Daughter of God. I’m crystal clear on what being a Daughter of God is and my role. If wearing pants, helps you find yourself and your clitoris, good for you.

    The insecurities and discoveries of self are important for men and women. One of the other bloggers said she and her friends don’t walk around saying their feminists and neither do I walk around saying I’m a Daughter of God. I know where I stand with my Creator and that’s enough.

    However, when other women ask me if I’ve ever experienced this or that situation, I will answer to the best of my ability. I’ve never had to discuss my genitals with another women, rarely does it come up in conversation. I would ask MG, who wrote the following, “…Case in point: remember that feminism is the movement that (especially in the quarters where it is needed) continues a quiet, respectable, and unfailing advocacy for frankness about the existence of God’s creation the clitoris. And I know you may be blushing just to see that word on a blog. Truth be told, I blush to write it because I know my mother and people from my ward read this and I just typed the word clitoris.” Why did you blush (or at least claim to) when typing the word clitoris. It’s part of the vulva. You failed to make your “case in point.”

    What concerns me as a LDS woman, a democrat, a teacher, a Daughter of God, etc., is that I have never in all my 47 years both before I was LDS and since, ever, ever heard women in the church complain or mention their genitals. You’re point/case was not made.

    • Kathy Datsko

      My guess is that you live in an area where they don’t routinely cut off those female parts. When this type of forced amputation is performed, women often have excruciating pain during their periods, and during childbirth. Also, the scar tissue, as I had read, inhibits other functions as well. If you live in an area where this is not an issue, be aware that millions of other women in other countries struggle with this everyday. If your talents and gifts lie in other areas (i.e. you have not been called to help solve this issue), you most likely may not be aware of this atrocity that happens to our sisters around the world.

      • Dani

        It strikes me as rather sad that there are adult women in this world who’ve never had frank, open discussions about their bodies with other women. How will we ever truly understand one another — male and female — if we keep the most essential aspects of ourselves so intensely hidden? And I by no means am advocating that we run through the streets screaming about our most intimate sexual encounters to any unfortunate soul who happens to be in our wake.

        I’m ceaselessly surprised by how deeply rooted repression is in the human psyche, and in all the highly subtle ways it pervades our everyday existence…

  16. Connie

    Per Wikipedia
    Feminism: The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
    In regard to the previous clitoris references….as a businesswoman in a predominately male field,,,, the subject has never come up under any condition. (This includes my previous non-lds & lds singles circle.)

  17. I used to love to read the stories and comments on this site. I often appreciated your insight as you compassionately answered really difficult questions, from real people, with real pain that resulted from real struggles that we all face in one form or another.

    I don’t watch the TV very often, it bores me, but every once in a while I catch a small glimpse of a show. This happened a while back, “Saturday Night Live” was playing a skit that I believe was called “White People Problems”. The essence of the skit was black people pretending to be self-absorbed white people, complaining about miniscule irritations, that they embellished until they believed they were important issues.

    You used to feature thoughtful questions from people who are struggling to answer the difficult – but most important questions of life; to which you gave answers of comfort and hope. You now feature meaningless whining from self-involved individuals, to which you give self-promoting answers laced with suppositions of self-grandeur.

    • Stephanie: Is it important that couples are able to communicate honestly with one another? Is it important that husbands and wives not live in unnecessary fear of one another? These things are important to me.

    • This is such an interesting comment. I’m assuming Stephanie, that you are a woman and yet this topic of feminism seems to be almost a non issue for you. I’m not judging – I know a lot of women who feel the same way about this topic. Women who honestly see that they are valued, equal, supported, taken care of and that talk about this subject is as you put “meaningless whining”. I think that’s a valid experience as a woman.
      I also know a lot of women who find this issue to be crucial to the happiness and well being of themselves as women. Women who see women’s rights as a personal question for society – Am I truly valued by society? Valued enough to be treated fairly and respectfully and equally? Perhaps experience has led them to different conclusions. Conclusions which are also valid and should have space in our discussions.
      Your comment reinforces my belief that a woman’s experience in North America is so varied that when we talk about feminism – the word just means a million things to women and so, sometimes, nothing to women.

      Thanks to AMG for providing a forum for thoughtful discussion. It must be challenging at times to be so public with such intimate thoughts.

    • broberts

      I totally agree with you Stephanie. The last few months this site feels more like a question and answer period in Young Womens!! I used to come to this site to find answers to doctrinal issues/questions but lately the topics discussed seem rather trivial.
      Why would any woman be afraid to tell her husband she is a feminist?? Like someone else suggested put on your big girl pants and speak your mind girl!!! f you can’t be your true self and voice your opinions within your marriage then maybe you married the wrong guy!!

    • Opinionscount

      I will agree to disagree with you Stephanie. I thnk what is being talked about on this blog is very important. Psychology doesn’t have all the answers. I like the fact that men and women are communicating on this issue of feminism. When I was younger I didn’t understand the women’s liberation movement because I felt like a liberated woman. It wasn’t until I got into the workforce that I understood what was happening. I also saw how more mothers and fathers had to work for a living because the fathers were no longer earning enough to support their families. I found a profession that pays more than some men are getting paid. My husband could afford to have his own business because I had the benefits from my job. I’m also in a profession that usually employs more females than males.

  18. Male YSA Mormon Feminist

    I was actually going to write AMG this week to ask for advice on how best to ‘come out of the closet’ as a mormon feminist. Perhaps you could say this post was an answer to my prayer. Thank you for your advice, AMG. Being confident, kind, and honest to those you present your position to is of the utmost importance.

    That said, for me being a mormon feminist seems to be about much more than the clitoris. To me, it is about not giving one gender lower leadership positions than the other, not making one gender cover their face while the other is praying, not making one gender covenant to obey their spouse while the other covenants to obey God. Mormon feminism, to me, is about equality in leadership, equality in access to the power of God, and equality in the ability to communicate with God.

    Thus, my question is somewhat different. What should one expect when they express their dissatisfaction with parts of the temple ceremony? when they voice their desire to allow women to participate in leadership? to allow women to give blessings? to allow women (heaven forbid) to hold the priesthood?

    Will there be church discipline? Will there be heartache when I express these opinions to my dear elderly conservative parents?

    Perhaps readers of this blog can share their experiences.

    Might I also make mention of one more point perhaps somewhat unique to my situation. Being an active YSA male, it is very difficult to find an active female YSA who not only holds these feminist positions, but is partially sympathetic with them. Perhaps there is a Mormon Feminist dating site somewhere out there? (only half-kidding)

    I can’t express how many times I have been disappointed when I take bright, talented young LDS women on dates, ask them about their career interests and passions, and get the response that they would just like to raise a family (and more often than not, a large family). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see this as a poor desire, but I want to raise my family as well! I don’t just want to win the bread, but make it with my kids too. And I want a wife who will be an example to our children that life is about the fulfillment of passions, the development of talents, and serving society with these talents and passions.

    • Amy

      These are the questions I would like discussed also. They have been heavily on my mind for a couple of years (not about finding someone to date though ;).

      I don’t feel comfortable discussing these things with anyone in person except for my husband for fear of reprimand. I don’t want to be told that I just have to live with it because this is the way our church is. I need to be able to have hope that it will not always be this way. How can I believe in a Heavenly Father that doesn’t see a need for these things to change?

      My husband believes that the church as a whole has not been ready for equality for women and that it will come. That this is one of the things that were not revealed because we were not ready. I hope that is the case.

    • Riss

      Male YSA Mormon Feminist (that…is a mouthful)

      If I knew you, I would ask you out on the spot. Do you know how hard it is to find LDS guys who get this? I mean, they’re certainly out there, but they aren’t especially plentiful in my area. I agree, there definitely needs to be a dating site for progressive Mormons.

    • Opinionscount

      I don’t have any desire to hold the Preisthood. I like my role as a woman in the church. There is nothing that says we can’t pray for a blessing for the sick. I have no problem with the men giving the Priesthood blessings. There are other things in the temple ceremony I wish would be updated.

  19. aureliusslc

    The thing I like most about what askmormongirl says is her laundry list of topics. Maybe this doesn’t need to be said, but the last thing I would do initially is “come out as a feminist.” I say this not because I think there’s something inherently wrong with making such a declaration, but I wonder if using the label so early on might cause your husband to fill in the blank with his own ideas of what feminism means. Quite possibly before you have a chance to more fully explain. Thus, the laundry list. So I think of your situation (or this situation as you’re obviously not the only one) as one in which you might gradually loosen the filter between what you think and what you say. Plus, by choosing the topic and the timing of your statements, you can not only further investigate what your feminism looks like, but you can hopefully do so in a way that includes your husband, and which maybe doesn’t start with a long, tense conversation in which one or two careless statements might do unnecessary harm.

    Lastly, on the topic of Mormon Feminism itself, as much as it’s perceived as an oxymoron, I find hope in the idea that Mormon and LDS are themselves relatively new labels that have shown remarkable evolutionary potential and which may, one day, more closely dovetail with feminism, its achievements, and its goals.

  20. Portia

    I don’t think that my husband and I have any secrets from each other about our personal ideologies, and most of my close friends and immediately family members know that I am a feminist. But I can relate to TR’s reluctance to label herself. I have plenty of extended family members and church acquaintances who do not know that I am a feminist. The fact is, I like these people, and I want them to like me. They are my grandparents, my old Primary teachers, and my mission companions. I don’t want them to be disappointed or uncomfortable with me or my ideas, and I know that some of them would be if I were more outspoken.

    I’m a smart and confident person, and I know how to communicate clearly and intelligently about touchy subjects. Still, I feel like I would be giving up something warm and comfortable by standing up and telling everyone, “this is what a feminist looks like.” I am more comfortable saying, in a one-on-one conversation, “I read an article online about women in the church that I really liked, and I’d love to know what you thought about it.” Maybe this is a good way to start a conversation with your husband.

  21. MoNa

    Oh honey. I’m sorry you are in a position where you feel like you have to hide your feminism. My sympathies – I’ve felt that way, too; like I was struggling with an overflowing handcart full of Mormon Feminism. The more I pulled it, the heavier and bigger it got. Eventually I couldn’t camouflage my struggling anymore, and I didn’t want to.

    And then my husband surprised me. As I became more vocal about the things I was observing, reading and thinking about, he got down in the dirt with me, and we are now pulling that overflowing handcart full of Mormon Feminism together. It isn’t so heavy anymore, and I no longer feel that a handcart is the best metaphor for my feminism.

    You didn’t say a lot about your husband, or the kind of man he is, but I like to think that most people who love us tend to give us the benefit of the doubt. Give him the benefit of your doubt, as well. Open up, tell him what you’re reading, what questions it inspires, the discomforts you are having, and allow him a little freedom as he gets to know the part of you that you’ve been hiding. Embrace your uncertainty (it takes you one step closer to God), and hold on tight to your partner in life. I think there is a very good chance he might love you enough to go on a journey with you, or at the very least support and trust you as you search, ponder and pray.

    Joanna, I thought you gave a great response to an excellent question. Mormon Feminism absolutely has to do with learning to be authentic (and demystifying!), and in the end that’s what all of this is about.

  22. I have good news to report friends. After reading this post yesterday, I felt like i wanted to share more about my feminist-ish beliefs with my husband in a more in depth way. He knows where I stand on a lot of issues and has been supportive, but I was a little worried that when I more seriously shared my thoughts and feelings, he may not understand.
    I could not have been more wrong. I forget sometimes how well my husband knows me. At the end of my venting, he said, “I agree with everything that you just said, and honestly, I’m feel bummed that you thought I may not.”
    Anyways, it was a great experience, and I sincerely hope and wish the same for you :).
    Hugs from Oregon!

  23. Tristin

    TR, gentle and unapologetic honesty is the best policy here. He loves you and he will try to understand, even if it is hard for him at first. Joanna effectively illustrates how the problem is often one of language. Once we let go of our presupposed meanings of words it becomes easier to understand each other.

    It might also be helpful if you can connect your husband with a network of feminist men that he can relate to and get reassurance from (even if he wants badly to believe you are still the woman he married it will be a huge relief to hear it from others as well). I’ve been able to build a small network of supportive feminist men (I’m a man myself), but mostly through being the “out” guy that everyone else knows about first. Once you are out yourself you will likely find there are many others like yourself just waiting for a safe person to come out to. Then maybe you can help your husband as well.

    So much emotion around the topic of feminism! If I didn’t know myself better some of the comments here would have me convinced I hate Jesus, the church, and everything warm and soft in the world. All I want is a little more effective communication and honesty about how we treat each other, and I don’t think I’m the exception among feminists.

  24. plwriofrio

    Dear Sister,
    As a brother, I am very confident about your spouse becoming blessed by your growth. However the open country of the love of God and church doubts is a scary place. Things are not easy when deep fears are stirred. I also know the fear of change, the fear of being powerless over that which he values most, the fear of the pain of his own growth known only in his unconscious, or the fear of unsettlement you may inspire.
    He needs what you are learning about. He needs you to be all that is making you a new person.
    So, speaking practically, maybe don’t start with labeling yourself (feminist). Try describing the changes in behavior and feeling that lead to the new joy you are seeking. “Empower” him, not by trickery, but by patience and loved unfeigned,telling him how important his help is and how his help might enhance your growth. Maybe paint a picture of the woman you envision becoming.
    Lastly, speaking as a husband of a changed and greater woman, teach him about the awesome gift the clitoris is!
    Peace.
    PLW

    • Opinionscount

      Your right I never even thought of labeling myself a feminist when I went through my midlife crisis. I now realize I was a Mormon Feminist and just didn’t know it at the time. I also agree with the person who likes to be referred to as a Daughter of God. I still don’t feel comfortable using the feminist label. It’s kind of like my dark skin friend who doesn’t want to be labeled as African American or Black. She thinks of herself as an American. I’m a woman!

  25. Tawnie

    Ummm, someone asks about Mormon Feminism and the reply is “clitoris”… Really? That’s not only shallow, it’s offensive — we are much more than our body parts. It’s like a group of men got together and said, “When a woman says she’s a feminist, it really just means she’s not being satisfied sexually, right? Yeah, so let’s throw her a bone and pay more attention to her private parts.”.

    Uh, No! It means she’s not being treated as a Co-Equal.

    It means she knows women in the early days of the church had the Priesthood and we want to know why we don’t now?!? I’ve personally had a Bishop teach me how to properly access and use the Priesthood, so I would have it in times of emergency. Why aren’t all women in the church taught this?

    It means she knows women are capable of fulfilling the office of Bishop, Stake President, Mission President, Seventy, Apostle or Prophet. There were Women Prophets in both the Old & New Testaments, why wouldn’t there be today (God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, right?)?

    It means that we recognize YW’s program should be every bit as rigorous and instructional as the Boy Scout Program.

    It means we understand women can just as equally conduct temple worthiness interviews, and most likely more comfortably so, for young women going to the temple for the first time.

    It means we understand that a woman may have a career AND a family — they are not mutually exclusive. Nor is a working woman to be looked down upon or ostracized because full-time mothers used to feel threatened by working women. We understand that today a prudent marriage is prepared for both spouses to be a breadwinner, and that a woman will likely need/want to work at various times in a marriage, if not the entire marriage.

    It means we know it’s time that women are equally and fully a part of the leadership and decision-making of Our church.

    I’m not sure what era the “clitoris” reply was directed to, it seems like my Great-Grandmother’s era, but women today are capable of fulfilling every position in the church a man holds… And it’s not only time we are provided the opportunity, the church NEEDS us in these positions.

    • Kathy Datsko

      Will you please share with us what you have learned about accessing the priesthood so that those of us who are willing to practice our priestesshood are then able to glean from what you have been taught / learned? I learned in the Pentecostal circles about the power of using the authority of the name of Jesus Christ and the power of accessing His blood covenant.
      Thank you in advance for sharing,. I know these things are sacred. I also know it is wrong to withhold spiritual food from people who are starving, all because you don’t want to ‘throw your pearls before swine’. If we judge them as swine, and they haven’t even oinked, they may instead be Heavenly Mother’s starving daughters.

  26. Tawnie

    I will be interested to see just how unbiased this site truly is, as I wait to see if my comment about what Mormon Feminism really means is actually allowed to be published.

    • Opinionscount

      I understand how you feel about holding the Priesthood, but what about us women who do not have that desire? Men are expected to hold the Priesthood. There may be men that wish they wouldn’t have to have that responsibility. This reminds me of when I was a Senior in high school in 1970 and girls could not wear pants to school. The next year all the kids were allowed to wear blue jeans to school. They went from one extreme to another and it wasn’t long before they had to find another regulation because of the t-shirts kids started wearing to school. Then there was talk about making kids wear uniforms. That never got passed. You can’t please everyone. I’m grateful to be a woman in this church. Personally I do not want to hold the Priesthood or be President of the church. I’m a convert so I wouldn’t say I have been brainwashed from a young age to believe this. I appreciate my role as a woman. I’m a Mormon and I am a woman. That to me is Mormon Feminism. I’ve worked full time ever since I joined the church, even after having a child. I have no desire to take on a man’s role in the church. I do appreciate your willingness to want to do that. I know there are other women in the church who feel the same as you do even if they don’t want to admit it. I also know there are women who feel as I do. I like to trust there is a divine reason for the way things are at this point in time.

      • Tawnie

        Dear Opinionscount~ I understand how you feel and where you’re coming from because this hasn’t been today’s “way of doing things” and change is scary… Though as Mothers/Sisters/Teachers/Friends/Mentors/Nurturers/etc, isn’t our greatest desire for those we care for and help raise up, to grow to their Full Potential??

        Women and the Priesthood isn’t a new concept — our Sisters in the early church had this blessing (remember the story of Sister Amanda Smith who listened to the Lord’s instruction how to mix a poultice of ashes & herbs to help restore her son’s shattered hip?!). And perhaps with an equal amount of time spent studying the Women Prophets of the Old & New Testaments, the fact that God does call women to be Prophets wouldn’t be so foreign and unfathomable to us. If Joseph Smith hadn’t been martyred, this conversation wouldn’t be necessary as women would have continued along with the power to bless lives through God’s Priesthood, just as women use the Priesthood in Temples today.

        The question becomes: “Should your fears hold someone else back?” Especially when that someone in all likelihood would be your own children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews, etc. I include men as well, as many do long for their partners to share equally all of God’s blessings and opportunities. And the Temple gives us the knowledge women are capable of doing so.

        We are taught in the Church to examine the source of our fears… We know who the father of fear is, and it’s not God or the Savior — All things are possible In Them and Through Them. Our wonderful U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, helped our country though changing times with his accurate analysis that “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

        Certainly Satan knew the power of women with the Priesthood; and with the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, he has thwarted it for a season. Set yours fears to the side for a moment and IMAGINE… How much women can bless and help change the world with the Priesthood power!

        The Church has hit a wall. Members are leaving in droves. The Church cannot figure out: Why? The answer is so simple, almost too simple that it’s not being recognized, as it sits just before them (and beside them in the church pews, and across from them at the dinner table)… Restoring the Priesthood to Women and truly serving the Lord our God together, in full partnership. Thus enabling all His children to achieve their full potential and by so doing, working together as He brings His Church out of obscurity and we build His Kingdom together here upon the earth.

        Living in the Midwest (after growing up out West), I can see the MANY wonderful things women Ecclesiastical leaders DO in their communities! It is not something to fear, it has been done before and is being done throughout the world. :)

        President Hinckley said it best, “Do not let fear overcome your efforts. . . . The adversary of all truth would put into your heart a reluctance to make an effort. Cast that fear aside and be valiant in the cause of truth and righteousness and faith.” in his “Stand Up for Truth,” in Brigham Young University 1996–97 Speeches [1997].
        This is my prayer for all of us in His church, Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s