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Chapter 4- Towards LDS Feminism

Chapter 4- Towards LDS Feminism

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Published by Brad Levin

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Published by: Brad Levin on Jun 20, 2012
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Part II: On Activism4.
 
Towards LDS Feminism
Now that we’ve completed
Part I: Gendered Theology 
, it’s time to begin
Part II: On Activism
. Let’s start off with a chapter
on LDS feminism issues.
Rebuttals to Common Anti Equality Arguments
What is the current status of women in the church? This section will hit some of the common defenses made against theaccusation of LDS sexism.
Margaret Toscano, MWF Founder
I attended my first Sunstone Symposium in August of 2010. That symposium accelerated the progress of my feminist
awakening. During the Mormon Women’s Forum
(MWF), I heard the panelists (including Margaret Toscano of September Six fame) talk about several of the ways that LDS leaders
and members try to prove that “we really do treatmen and women equally in the church!” Given the obvious inequity, a number of creative approaches have crept in:
Myth RebuttalMen start out spiritually inferior towomen, and having the priesthoodbalances them out (the
notch-down-men
approach, popular folklore inmale LDS circles)(A) The claim is speculative.(B) No mother sees her newborn son and exclaims, "I can't waitfor him to be ordained at 12 to equal so he's finally equal to mydaughter."(C) Men are no more or less spiritually crippled/in need of ahandicap to bring them up to snuff than are women.Motherhood and the power toconceive a child is so awesome, menneed priesthood to make them equalto women (the
notch-up-women
approach, popularized by Uchtdorf,Faust, and others, e.g. Hinckley's"women are the
crowning
creation"language)(A) Nope.
Fatherhood 
, not priesthood, is the counterpart tomotherhood. And under current constraints, turns out, bothmen and women are needed to procreate.(B) This myth magnifies the dark underbelly of pronatalism.Some women are infertile! Are we to conclude that, once thisprimary source of their self-worth is extinguished, that they arenow less female, or perhaps second class? Infertile men at leaststill exercise priesthood.
 
2(C) Not all women become mothers
(or spouses, which LDS’s
hope accompanies motherhood), but single men are ordainedas a matter of course.Women and men are equal, they justhave different rolesGovernance has always been the litmus test for equality.
Youcan tell a marginalized class by their exclusion from access tovoting and public office
by either law or glass ceiling (thinkBlacks, Jews, Irish, women, etc. in history). Separate but equalonly holds up when there's a discernible,
relevant 
difference(forcing a female but not a male to undergo a pregnancyscreening, for instance, might qualify as just discrimination-excluding a woman from pursuing public office or theapostleship does not).There are women in the scriptures,and we believe in Heavenly Mother
You’re kidding, right? Heavenly Mother and scriptural women
get as much stage time as Passerby #16 in
Hamlet 
. Prayers,scripture, temple, and Sunday services teach male narrativeswritten by male authors to male audiences using male
pronouns and encouraging worship of a male and that male’smale child. This wouldn’t be so bad (i.e. the male narratives,especially Christ’s,
could be interpreted as universal humanstories
) except for your dogged insistence about the eternalsignificance of gender roles and the differences between the
sexes. A worthy woman isn’t permitted to represent Jesus at
the veil, ostensibly because, in emulating her Savior, malenessis more significant that faithfulness, worthiness, or discipleship.Women do lead in the church!
Women don't participate in general governance
(matters thatpertain to the community as a whole). They only lead
subsets
of the whole (e.g. the Relief Society), and are categoricallyexcluded from at least the top five levels of the hierarchyglobally (FP, Qof12, Presidency of the 70, Quorums of 70,Presiding Bishopric) and the top three locally (Stake Presidency,Stake High Council, Bishopric).
 
3
 A tale of three pictures
1
 
Check out all that pink! See, we are definitely into women leaders and gender equality
1

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