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Chapter 6- Why 2012 is the Year to Act, Plus Some Tangible Activism Proposals

Chapter 6- Why 2012 is the Year to Act, Plus Some Tangible Activism Proposals

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Published by Brad Carmack

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Published by: Brad Carmack on Jun 20, 2012
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Why 2012 is the year to act, plus some tangible activism proposals
There's been a lot of talk lately about the Mormon Moment. The Book of Mormon Musical, Prop 8, and Mitt Romney'scandidacy have all helped catapult Mormonism into the media spotlight.
So why isn’t that spotlight exposing feminist issues?
We have got to get people talking about Mormon sexism
. I'm notlettered enough in the Mormon feminist literature to comment overmuch on how the movement should be branded,but I am convinced that the LDS community doesn't care or talk enough about governance equality. T
here’s a serious
visibility problem. I affirm the three-word remedy proposed by many LDS women: controversy, controversy,controversy.We need to generate controversy, because controversy generates discussion (do Bottgate, BYU Skinny Jeans, theSeptember
Six, and Packer’s October 2010 address ring any bells?). Discussion in turn elicits thoughtful consideration,
and thoughtful consideration inches us, as a community, closer to truth, justice, and American pie. Well, at least the firsttwo.
Ordaining women
Imagine for a moment that we accidentally ordained a woman an elder. (Given the deep flaws of the OutwardAppearance Test
TM
, this has certainly happened at a least a handful of times in our history, no matter how you slice thepie). Now, did the world stop turning? Would it, if we ordained women regularly?
 
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By ordaining women, we put the ball in Elohim’s court. If She’s sexist, the ordination won’t “stick,” and theoretically noone should be disciplined (no harm, no foul, right?). If He’s not sexist, th
en the Holy Spirit of Promise will ratify theordination and no one should complain.
I’ve been pushing for ordaining women (to the office of Elder to start) for a while now. Here’s an excerpt from one of 
those exchanges:
As I have argued before and continue to maintain, categorizing God's children as male or female based ontheir anatomy is unsustainable and undesirable(http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=7905). Separate but equal institutions sometimes have a role to play in the
evolution
of equality, but cannot support its finalexpression. The category itself must be eliminated.Though women do possess already the authority to govern, they must express that power for it to bemeaningful. It would do little in the struggle for equality for Jackie Robinson to state that he has the authority toplay baseball, then continue to compete in the Negro Leagues. He
expressed 
his power by playing in the MajorLeagues. By doing so, he led a movement which accomplished two ends. (1), it transformed the major leagues intoa colorful rather than uni-color institution. (2), the movement he led resulted in the
destruction
of the NegroLeague, a fact too often forgotten. In essence, both former leagues were destroyed, replaced by a single inclusiveinstitution.To express their power, Mormon women could beef up a separate but equal Negro League- but to do so isinstrumental at best. There is only one governance power, and it is polygendered. There is only one voting power,and it is polygendered. There is not a male authority separate from a female one. LDS communities equategovernance power with "priesthood"- a priesthood which has yet to be popularly and properly recognized as blindto the man-made constructs of sex and gender.The moment the Major Leagues began integrating with African descended players, integration ceased to be aninstance of black people requesting and receiving power from white people. Instead,
it became anacknowledgment of the irrelevance of race to playing baseball
. The irrelevance of gender to governance is just asclear.Yes, women could cleave to their feminine identity and build their own League, which might help womenthrive for a time. The first Negro league, the National Colored Base Ball League, failed in 1887 after just two weeks,due to low attendance. The LDS zeitgeist, by comparison, is metaphorically far beyond 1887. The final expression of equality lends itself, in my view, to a 2012 LDS Jackie Robinson.
 This particular piece of precedent is particularly pregnant with philosophical potency, as it challenges in a stroke (1) LDSsexist governance, (2) the source of governance authority (common consent v. elsewhere), and (3) the ability of the
gerontocracy to retain a patriarchal grip over its members in an age where the rising generation’s zeitgeist is one of 
information access, empowerment, and a milieu of secular equality. Like the Salt March, this act strikes at the morallegitimacy of an authoritarian regime- in this case, for excluding women from high-level decision making.
 
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Jackie Robinson
 
Woman don't need to get power from a man. However, this act is needed because
ordination is the process recognizedin our community for transferring governance power
. Eventually there needs to be a Brooklyn Dodgers who debutsJackie Robinson- after that pioneer breaches the gender line, like destroying white-only baseball, the office of elderbegins to lose its male-only stigma.
Though we’d be punished and marginalized, it would jumpstart the dialogue, producing questions like, “well, why not?What’s so wrong about a woman holding governance authority?” it would set a prec
edent for what will eventually prove
normal (the reason it’s radical rather than routine is not the act itself, but merely the fact that it’s 2012, not 2212). It
allows both participants a voice and a forum- make no mistake, journalists will interview the participants, and theiranswers will be heard by many people. This act would shine a lot of light on the plight of Mormon feminism in 2012.Romney+ Book of Mormon Musical + Prop 8 + Social Media = the Mormon Moment, which with an uptick in activism likethis could evolve into the
Mormon Spring
.
“There is a critical mass of people who want to stay identified with the faith and 
want it to be better.
It’s a significant shift.” 
 
-Joanna Brooks
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 It also holds symbolic value by signaling to future LDS leaders (not so much the current ones-
I think they’re a lost cause)
that LDS members, especially my Millenial generation, are not satisfied to watch and clap while the institution takesbaby steps. We are willing to pay a high price for the reforms (sexism and heterosexism for starters) we demand, andwill not wait around endlessly to observe them.Plus, why would trying to empower women be a serious transgression? Integration is a simple, elegant solution to thegovernance equality gap. The little people can model for LDS Inc. what they should do.Some would argue that a current Elder lacks the authority to ordain a woman, since the ordainor would likely lack the (a)stake priesthood meeting, (b) Bishop, and (c) Stake President approvals mandated in the Agent-Smiths-only manual(16.7.1). However, as the manual itself states,
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canon trumps the manual, and
scripture
says:
[It is]The duty of the elders... to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons" (D&C 20:39)
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Qtd. in Jack Healy, Gentle Dissent in Mormon Church on Gay Marriage. Published: June 11, 2012http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/us/dissent-on-gay-marriage-among-mormons.html 
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See appendix B for in-depth analysis

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