Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mormon feminists and gender

So, I haven't written in a while, and I'm sorry about that. Things get crazy sometimes.

While you're here, check out THIS. It's a link to an interview I did with SLC feminist on and being a Mormon feminist. Also, SLC feminist is an awesome blog run by an extremely cool person.

I wanted to talk about a problem/criticism I've been seeing a lot lately. Mostly, I've seen it in context with the idea of ordaining women ( And it mainly comes from Mormons who don't understand what the purpose of Ordain Women is or what Mormon feminism is.

They seem to think that we want men and women to be exactly the same. I had an LDS woman (who will remain anonymous) recently say to me
"i think that there are specific qualities that Heavenly Father has blessed men and women with that compliment each other in their roles as family members. if He wanted one person to be able to make a family, He would have made one person. but He didn't, he made two different people that when together can make a family."
I've heard this a lot in various forms. Mostly commonly, I hear "equal does not mean exactly the same."

I'm not sure where this idea comes from that feminists want men and women to be exactly the same. I would say that I agree that equal does not mean exactly the same. Let's take the Civil Rights movement - everyone, no matter what color, was allowed to go to the same schools, have the same resources, have the same jobs, etc., but not every single person decided to make the same exact choices.

What feminists want is not for men and women to be exactly the same, but for society/religion/other outside influences to stop dictating what it is that men and women should be doing. For instance, in LDS culture, the man is the provider while the woman is the nurturer. LDS members who play into this idea usually believe that married couples are equal partners with very separate responsibilities.

Mormon feminists believe that men and women should not be forced into these very narrow roles. What about the men who want to be nurturers and the women who want to be providers? What about the women who do not feel like nurturing comes naturally to them, and vice versa?

I love the fact that I'm a woman. I love my breasts and curvy hips and vagina. I like not having a penis and testicles. I love the relationships I have with other women and the power I feel I have as a woman. I  hope to learn more about the spiritual nature of being a woman (of which I do believe growing a fetus inside of me can be a part). Because of my patriarchal blessing, I believe that my spirit has been anatomically female for as long as it has existed. I believe I will continue being anatomically female after I die (which is a very Mormon belief, I know).

I know that I have many talents, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. But I also don't believe that any of those are inherently tied to my gender. I am not a good writer, friend, scholar, and leader because I am a woman - I am all of those things because I'm an individual human being. My husband has many of the same gifts and strengths as me, but also some very different ones. This is also not because he is a man, but because he is an individual. Together, we will make an awesome family because we do not see each other in categories, but as individuals.

So what Mormon feminists want is for you to stop saying that women are going to be better nurturers naturally while men are better providers naturally. Especially since this isn't always true. I myself do not feel comfortable around children at this point in my life. My husband, however, is great with kids, because he can make silly faces and do the funny voices. Telling me that I should be a natural nurturer is basically telling me that something is wrong with me. Which I don't believe.

We don't believe that men and women will morph into some androgynous or Barbie-doll-smooth-down-there mass if you get rid of gender roles. I don't think anybody wants that to happen.

We do believe that men and women will both benefit from the freedom of being able to make life and family choices based off of what their personal strengths and weaknesses are. And Mormon feminists do believe that it is important for couples to complement each other!

I understand that this idea might be confusing (and I'm not always the best at articulating, especially in a blog). Please, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

Thanks a bunch,

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