The Mormon Portal at Patheos has an amazing forum on feminism up.
The main article by Kathryn Soper is amazing. This type of analysis is not happening on the blogs. I think that Patheos is providing a great space for such issues.
In addition to Kathryn’s, are responses by a rather impressive list of Mormon Feminists including:
All Else Will Follow by Claudia Bushman
A Tale of Two Women by Rixa Freeze
This Great Social Upheaval by Kristine Haglund
Confident and Proactive by Neylan McBaine
A Source of Social Capital? by Melissa Proctor
This collection draws attention to some of the most important issues in Feminism and Mormonism. It also highlights some of the tensions within Mormon feminism. I look forward to taking a closer look.
10 Replies to “Mormon Feminism at Patheos”
Excellent set of essays. Thanks for linking. I’d add to Proctor’s critique of the voices of contemporary LDS “feminism” that they not only share status as educated, white, and married, but also are often (not always!) prone to see feminism and the politics around homosexuality as separate endeavors, even in conflict.
Exhibit A: http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2009/04/a-feminist-response-to-valerie-hudson-on-ssm/
I’d also risk saying, though all essays are written by women with impressive academic credentials, that there is an obvious analytical gap between those who engage with feminist theory and those who don’t.
“I’d also risk saying, though all essays are written by women with impressive academic credentials, that there is an obvious analytical gap between those who engage with feminist theory and those who don’t.”
I fully agree. I also think the feminist theory iis a helpful tool and not just for academics. I have been lamenting the lack of theoretical Mormon feminism. Kathryn brought in Alison Jagger from the start. I got choked up.
TT and Chris H., I’m wondering what feminist theory would add to a real life conversation among Mormons about why, say, women don’t have the priesthood. I guess, in my opinion (which must be discounted as I am a white, overly educated, woman), it’s not that we need a theory to explain gender issues in the church, but that we need to start the conversation in a way that doesn’t come off as lecture from “so-called” intellectuals.
I know Chris H laments the lack of rigorous feminist theory in discussions about gender roles online, but I think the real problem is that in the real world no one is even talking about gender roles in any meaningful way except to parrot back the standard stuff in the Family Proclamation.
I’m less interested in creating a robust theory of Mormon feminism as I am about moving the conversation about gender roles offline into the real world.
Of course, it depends on the particular feminist theory. In particular, I think that feminist theory can offer a framework for discussing the roots of sexist gender roles. These things need some deconstruction. Feminist theory offers tools for such deconstruction. We could benefit by moving beyond how such practices are unfair and unequal, but instead we should look at how they are historical contingent.
The thing the I love about feminist theory is that is meant for, and well suited for, real word discussion.
Myself being a confrontational male has made this a rather tricky venture for me. I wish all luck who are trying.
“We could benefit by moving beyond how such practices are unfair and unequal, but instead we should look at how they are historical contingent.”
Meaning, denying women the priesthood conforms with the oppression of women by men since the time of Adam? The problem with this approach (although I may be misreading you) is that it’s more descriptive than normative. I mean, that’s how we currently justify the subordination of women -it’s a historical tradition.
I do not think anyone had the priesthood duriing the time of Adam.
The problem is that we justify gender inequality as normative…though God said so is not all that different than an appeal to tradition. What we should point out is that the denial of priesthood to woman is just that an outdated practice rooted in the gender conceptions of the 19th century. We should show how these norms come about in order to show that they are cultural and historical constructs. This must be done, or else we are arguing against God. But our disagreement is not with God. It is with sexism….
I am not opposed to equality. We know each other a bit through virtual media. My point is that feminism should not only challenge the practices but the thinking and terms that are used to justify it.
It was looking for grown up feminism and the Patheos series delivered.
I also think that Mormon feminism has great hurdles. We are not only a sexist culture, but also explicitly anti-feminist. So my criticisms are not so much of Mormon feminists themselves. However, I seem to touch nerves a lot these days.
Ah. I get it now. I think you’re offering a secular approach to exploring these issues, though. If we as Mormons could separate traditional sexism from divine decree, most of our problems would be solved! There’s a lot of work that goes into that shift in focus, but such a shift in focus happened when President Kimball extended priesthood privileges to black males.
All of a sudden in 1978, secular racism was responsible for the priesthood ban, not God. I think a similar shift can happen with women and the priesthood, but we are so far off because no one is asking questions about the priesthood ban for women like the questions Lester Bush, Eugene England, etc. asked about blacks.
I guess I’m not sure what you mean by “grown-up” feminism? Could you elaborate?
“…but we are so far off because no one is asking questions about the priesthood ban for women like the questions Lester Bush, Eugene England, etc. asked about blacks.”
Well, there were but they were kicked out. Additionally, Lester and Eugene were offering academic and intellectual arguments.
I would not call my approach secular. It is applying social science and humanities methodologies. I guess that could be secular…but my guess is that we are not lobbying God to change his mind…are we? It is a worldly practice.
Grown-up? We need to be following the examples of England, Bush…Firmage….Bennion…both Bushmans.