Category: Women in the Church

Do Titles Matter?

There is a long-standing tradition in the church to use honorific titles identifying priesthood positions for men at just about every level beginning when they become missionaries. Elder, Bishop, President. Women — even those who hold similarly named positions — are generally referred to as simply “sister.” In my 45 years in the church, I can recall less than a handful of times when a woman was referred to by title. When I was 19 we moved to England while my dad took a sabbatical from BYU. My mom soon made a dear friend in the mission president’s wife. We spent hours and hours helping her fulfill her various duties. (My mom out of friendship, me out of a desire to hang out with cute missionaries.) This was more than a full time job. Upon returning home, I started paying attention to the Church News announcements of new mission presidents. The notices generally told about the man who’d been called, what his career was, what callings he’d held — and ended with something like, “President Jones is married to the former Mary Johnson.” Years later the husband of a friend was called to serve as a mission president. As I witnessed the preparations to leave for three years, packing up an entire home, learning a new language, leaving friends and family, it was obvious that the woman was making as serious a commitment as the man. But she wasn’t given…

True Adventures in Turning the Other Cheek, Pt. Two

For the next several weeks, I attended church when I could. Participation often included lowering my eyes when the bishop or his first counselor walked by and gave me stern “We’re watching you” stares. In some ways the whole business interested me so I wasn’t suffering as much as some might suppose. But given the treatment of these two ward leaders, I did feel somewhat cordoned off. Perhaps that’s why when a prettily decorated invitation to a special R.S. council arrived in my mailbox, in a fit of high irritation, I nearly tossed it.

Sister Missionaries and Opposite-Gender Attraction

A wonderful woman who served as my Education Counselor a number of years ago served a mission for the church around the time she was 19. She fell in the fabulous loophole. Her father was a mission president, so she was allowed to serve while he served, even though she was “underage.” But George Durrant was not just any mission president.

Laura Rees Merrill: Replacing Fear with Peace

Laura Liona Rees was born in Brigham City, Utah, in 1876, to LDS parents (her father had emigrated as a convert from England; her mother was born at Council Bluffs). With only an eighth grade, district school education, she studied for and passed the test to be licensed as a grade school teacher. Then she became one of the first women to attend Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) at Logan.

A Child’s-Eye View of the Mormon Silk Experiment

Utah’s 19th century silk industry was one of those projects encouraged by Brigham Young to stimulate home production and reduce Mormon dependence on a hostile world. Period literature is heavy on sermons advocating sericulture, treatises on raising worms and the mulberry trees they fed on, and praise for the quantities and artistry of finished articles. What I’ve never seen before is the memoir of a child who assisted in the enterprise.

Summer Seminar update

For those interested in the BYU summer seminar, I’ve revised the post, adding the titles of and abstracts for the papers.

From Russia With Love- Updated

There is a certain sort of person that is just so self-absorbed and generally unaware that it just doesn’t feel wrong to gossip about them, they’d just enjoy the extra attention. In my childhood ward it was Brother L.- in that ward people traded gossip about Brother L. like baseball cards. In fact it feels so normal to gossip about him that I’m having a tough time not filling this post with endless stories about stupid things he’s done. He was, in short, a tough person to get along with, and take seriously (I think it was his Dracula hairdo, but that’s neither here nor there). I eventually came to think of him as an egotistical-yet-harmless old bachelor. A man that, despite his annoying ways, had probably gone through his fair share of disadvantage and heartache. He was still a child of God who deserved all the respect, love and compassion the ward could muster. This past Christmas I heard something that shook my resolve to not think poorly of him to its core: he was taking a trip to Russia for just about the only thing an egotistical lonely old man would go to Russia for, a mail-order bride.

Sarah Day Hall: Southern Mother in Israel

American Southerners have been joining the Church since the 1830s. The Southern States Mission became the most successful mission field in the Church in the last generation of the 1800s. During those years when southern LDS meeting halls were burned and elders and even members were murdered, many thousands of Southerners responded to the gospel. Two elders knocked on a farmhouse door in Lowndes County, Alabama, on a spring day in 1896. The door was opened by Sarah Day Hall, holding her

Geertruida Lodder Zippro: The Extra Mile

Much of the attention of the Relief Society Conference of October, 1945, was devoted to efforts to assist surviving members of the Church in the former war zones of Europe. Contact had been reestablished with some of the European branches, and reports of their experiences and especially of their needs were read to the sisters assembled in Salt Lake City:

Christina Olsen Rockwell: Visiting Teacher

Christina Olsen was a Norwegian convert to the Church who emigrated to Zion before the arrival of the railroad. She was in her early 30s when she married the legendary Orrin Porter Rockwell, a man more than 20 years older than she was. Christina began her short married life by dividing her time between an isolated ranch in Rush Valley, Tooele County, and a home in Salt Lake City.

Frances Swan Clark: A Kindness Remembered

Many of Utah’s early pioneers did not remain long in the Valley. In defiance of counsel, some rushed to the California gold fields. A few went to California as missionaries, and the two apostles who founded a ranching colony in San Bernardino found no shortage of volunteers to accompany them there.

Mormon Feminists: A Divided Allegiance?

I originally began this post as a primer on feminism–a post on feminist ideological inconsistences and boundaries, and what the term “feminism” means–but the discussion following my previous T&S post on feminism and the comments on this post on FMH have got me thinking about the issue of allegiances and how that seems to be the main sticking point when it comes to Mormon suspicion of feminism.

Healing the Breach between Feminists and Non-Feminists

One of the hardest things for me to deal with when it comes to feminism and the church is not directly related to any of the hot button feminist issues (i.e. not having the Priesthood, worrying about polygamy, etc). Instead, I have a tendency to get upset about the tension-filled relationship between feminists and non-feminists* in the church and how that affects my ability to be honest about my own life journey with other church members.

Motherhood and Priesthood–Take 57!

I think that motherhood and priesthood are parallel; I know that many of you don’t. And one argument against my position that I see frequently is that you need the cooperation of the opposite sex (not to mention the blessing of fertility) to be a mother but not to be a priesthood holder. I’ve never found that argument persuasive, but until now, I haven’t been able to articulate why.

Book Review: Back to the Well: Women’s Encounters with Jesus in the Gospels

This statement from The Blog of Happiest Fun got a lot of links from other female bloggernaclites: I would like to spend more time discussing the lives of strong women in the scriptures. Women like Hannah, Deborah, Jael, or Anna the prophetess. There are so many women that I find interesting, and I don’t hear about them enough. I’d like to study their lives some more.

Notes on the Proclamation

In the fall of 1995 I enrolled in a critical theories seminar; first out of the block was feminism. One afternoon in September, I sat at a carrel in the old reading room on the south side of the HBLL and wrote on the inside cover of my reader a personal manifesto of sorts: “Why I don’t believe in gender essentialism.� Less than a week later, I sat in the Marriott Center watching the Women’s Broadcast on the big screen, and heard President Hinckley say, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose.�

Typical LDS Women

Michelle recently wrote that she considers some of the women at T & S ” . . . such a breath of fresh air because they are so well-educated, intelligent, and unafraid to put forth strongly held opinions. But may I point out the emperor’s lack of clothes and say you are not typical LDS women?”