Thursday, December 13, 2012

My take on feminism

With all this “wear pants to church drama,” (click for links to the salt lake tribune, ABC, and of course the really fiesty FB page is down right now) it’s really made me examine how I feel about feminism in Mormonism. I guess I consider myself a moderate Mormon-feminist, which basically means I aspire to gender-equality within the bounds of our eternal gender-roles.

So I believe that men and women have different (but equally important) roles for which they were created, and therefore are never meant to be EXACTLY the same. I don’t wish to be “equal” to men if it means having absolute sameness. I do, however, disagree with the idea that the Church is perfect in every way and that the way we do things is always perfectly right. I believe that our doctrine is God-given and eternal, but that many of the structural and procedural decisions are made by mortal, awesome, well-intentioned, and imperfect men. We're meant to question and seek truth, not to follow with blind faith.

So, an example: YM vs YW programs. I don’t see there being an eternally significant reason that we were stuck doing crafts all the time while the boys camped, played sports, and had “high adventure” time. I don’t see that as an issue of doctrine, I see that as an issue of being traditional to the point of causing some gender inequality. And just because I think some changes/improvements could be made to the program, doesn’t mean I don’t think the Church is true.

I see problems like this, church-wide. Non-Priesthood-related callings that women can’t hold. Who gets to say prayers in which meetings. Women with sensitive subjects to discuss having to turn to a man instead of someone who could better understand where they were coming from. The fact that roles and responsibilities get skewed by some men (certainly not all, and certainly not sanctioned, but nevertheless all-too-common)… subtle things like “presiding in the home” being taken to mean that men get the final say in everything, or that the Priesthood-holding men (hear that? They are Priesthood-holding men, not the Priesthood. The Priesthood doesn’t pass the sacrament, the men do) must “take care of” the women, as if women are weak and incapable.

Those problems don’t mean the doctrine isn’t true. They just mean that there is room for improvement and change – that sometimes we let Mormon culture get confused with doctrine.

Like this pants thing. Nowhere is there a rule stating that women must wear skirts/dresses to church. Nowhere. However, that doesn’t mean that people haven’t been judged or asked to change for wearing pants. Not because they were actually breaking a rule, but because misinformed members or leaders have confused culture with doctrine. And I’m all about changing that.

But when a group of women who openly state that they have problems with the doctrine of the Church (some of whom have already left the Church) then start a movement to protest “inequality” that really won’t end until doctrine is changed...... I don’t see promoting and supporting that agenda as a healthy way for practicing, truth-seeking, obedient, sincere Mormon women who are also feminist to get their point across. Not if the point is to decipher truth from oppressive culture.

PS, I'll be wearing a skirt on Sunday :)

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