Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Feminist Mormon's Bucket List

Several things have led to this post. First, a friend's blog that had her "Bucket list," things she wants to do before she "kicks the bucket." I've always liked the idea of a bucket list, but never got around to doing one. But I lately I read an article on Feminist Mormon Housewives about what you would do if you weren't Mormon. While it's hard to answer that question, I've been pondering the direction my life can take now that I no longer consider myself Mormon in the doctrinal sense (though I will likely always be a cultural Mormon.) And then I got myself a copy of "From Housewife to Heretic," Sonia Johnson's autobiography about her excommunication because of her pro-ERA activities. I'll probably write a post just on that book, since there is so much in it and most of it enrages me. But the reason it matters here is because it has galvanized me to start making changes in my life in a way that nothing else has.

So here's my list of things I want to do to move forward as myself, and as a feminist: my Feminist Mormon Bucket List.

1. Get a second ear piercing. I've always thought they were cute, and I no longer give the church the right to dictate what I do with my body.

2. Go to grad school or law school. I've always planned on this, but now it's in the forefront of the plan.

3. Do something to end my ability to have children, or at least something more permanent then the pill I'm currently. I've always felt guilty for not wanting kids, but now I'm going to follow my revelation about not having them.

4. Dedicate my time to the church on my terms. Currently I have a calling in Primary. I generally teach what I believe to be right, but occasionally slip into church talk I don't believe. That's not going to happen anymore. I will teach only what I believe.

That's the list for now, although I'm sure there will be more!


  1. HA, your list looks really really familiar...I've never written it out list style, but I'm basically doing all those same things.

    I'm getting a second piercing (and a cartilage one too, I or the other for sure, probably both). I want something that makes me visually 'unorthodox' to help so that people don't assume that about me.
    And a tattoo. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get one, or husband and I are talking about getting tattooed wedding rings, but I'm thinking about a lower back something too...

    I am still active/involved enough to maintain the temple recommend--and I wear my garments...mmmm, half or 2/3 of the time. I wear them to church, and when I feel like it. But I don't wear them all the time. I think I may get a tanktop or two this summer, or a sundress at least. And cleavage--I've stopped worrying about whether my shirt gapes at the neck if I lean over (or don't). I have boobs darnit, there they are, TA-DA!
    I pay tithing on my own terms--I pay on my 'increase' (income after basic needs) rather than on my gross. and I pay some to the ward and some to charities that I consider worthy.

    May I recommend a IUD? It's pretty reliable and long-term, if you're feeling at all iffy on doing something permanent. A tubal is actually about equally effective to an IUD (ie, yes, sometimes even that fails), and it's pretty major surgery...

    I'm in grad school myself, although on a break this quarter due to family stuff, and my own stress levels and health issues...hopefully I'll get me healthy again and resume in the spring or fall. :)

    And GO YOU for being careful of what you tell the children. They are SO impressionable. I'm in primary myself, and actually wanting to start up a blog for primary that has suggestions and ideas for teaching in a not-so-correlated way. I'm looking for contributors, if you think you might be interested let me know!

    Another thing that stepping back from orthodoxy has done? I've loosened up in the bedroom a great deal. As in, I've decided to be willing to try out stuff that I previously might have felt fit into the "unholy or impure"'s been kinda exciting and fun.

    And R rated movies. If you're in theatre then maybe you're not holding back on that one (a lot of folks do, some of us don't...I didn't see any till college, then my husband and I didn't for a couple of years but now we do again).

    My husband has left the church, and he has explored drinking a bit. I tried some wine with him the other night (which, in my opinion, smelled like nail polish remover and tasted like flowers for a second and then also tasted like nail polish remover...I don't know that I'll bother trying again LOL). That's something that would be different I think if I were not LDS, and something which I may explore (mixed drinks, etc) from time to time in the future.

  2. You're brave for wanting a tattoo. I'm a wimp about pain, so I think the most I'll do is a second ear piercing in my lobe. But I think tattoos can be really cute.

    My wimpiness about pain makes me worry about an IUD, but then I remind myself that surgery is also painful, so that's no better. :) When I run out of pills in a few months I'm going to talk to my doctor. Thanks for the tip.

    I'm with you about showing my body. I'm less worried about what I happen to show, although I'm still trying to get over the "you're walking pornography" that's been burned in my brain.

    I used to be anti-R rated movies, but now there are just certain things that stress me out that I won't watch, regardless of the rating. Generally any kind of sexual violence I can't handle, as well as gratuitous violence. Mostly I'm ok with anything else. So my standard for movies has changed to match my theatre standards.

    Dude, a blog for Primary teachers, maybe similar to Beginnings New for Young Women would be awesome! If you get started and want help, totally let me know!

    That's great that you're in grad school! Good luck with getting back to it! Be healthy and happy!

  3. I'm in a similar position to you in the move from doctrinal Mormon to cultural Mormon, although I never went through the temple (married a former Mormon man). I've been contemplating piercing my ears again for a variety of reasons, and now that I feel less tied to the church, I have no guilt over that desire.

    It's an awkward phase to be in, isn't it? (Or maybe it's just me.)

    (Followed you over from The Exponent Blog)

  4. Thanks for reading! I'm kind of throwing thoughts out into space, so I love it when people comment! It is an awkward place to be in, trying to figure out how to be authentic while exiting the church. But I've also found it freeing in some ways. I feel a lot less guilt and feel that my life has so many more options then it did when I was a member. It's been fun to think about that, when I'm not stressing about upsetting my family or screwing up my eternal soul. :)

  5. It's interesting that there are things you are considering doing now that you wouldn't do before your faith transition. I consider myself a "doctrinal" Mormon and I wouldn't have a problem doing most of those things. My husband and I are relaxed on church attendance and watch R-rated movies. I wear my garments, but have no qualms about taking them off and I can't sleep with bottoms anyway because of infections. I would get something pierced without much thought and I'm applying to grad school now.

    Weird how that works, doesn't it?

  6. It is interesting the variety in behaviors that people are ok with. I was a very guilt-ridden person for a long time, and this is my way of rejecting guilt over things I felt were ok, but felt guilty over feeling they were ok. I never wanted kids and always wanted advanced education, and felt so guilty about that. So now I'm claiming the right to what I"m ok with, without feeling guilty. Also, I've been looking for a way to express my rage against the church, to publicly show the people in my life, who are mostly Mormon as I live in Utah, that I am not ok with the church. This led to not wearing garments and the second piercing. I want to end the assumptions of what I believe from other people. Now they have to ask.

  7. I find this list not only impressive but an excellent tool to help you on your path to change and acceptance (acceptance toward yourself and what you do/don't believe).

    I wrote a post several months ago on how I felt the church held women back from pursuing advanced degrees and/or professional interests. A TBM wrote about how she disagrees with me because the church is very pro-education. It was frustrating that she couldn't understand the difference between getting your bachelor's degree and moving forward. Also, once you do decide to get a degree, you must also be the perfect housewife and church attendee, etc. It's like the 1950's and 1960's all over again.

    When I finally made my break from the church (back in May I believe), I began re-evaluating what my goals in life were. It took only 5 months for me to change the direction my life was heading--in stay-at-home wasteland (which I say with a smirk because that's how it felt to me but I don't disagree with women who choose to stay-at-home, as long as they are doing what makes them happy)--and applied for a job and then a master's degree program. It's been freeing to let myself have hopes and dreams far beyond that of the church.

    At the same time, I want to make an impact during my time on earth and I do feel that an advanced degree would help. I could go on for days about this subject, so I'll stop now.

    As for another piercing and getting rid of your garments? Good for you. As soon as I lose a few pounds, I am planning on getting a belly button ring. I have always wanted one and am excited for when I can walk in and get one.

  8. Sounds like we're really on the same page Amber. I have a crazy drive to make changes in the world, and that's what led to my desire for an advanced degree. I can't describe how much I want to do, how many things I want to change. I'm with you that encouraging women to get a Bachelor's is not the same as supporting education. The church talks about women's education in relation to marriage and family, not personal satisfaction or the desire to make changes to the world.

    I'm glad you were able to find a path that made you happy and that you feel good about! I'm with you, if staying home feels right to women, I'm all for it. But I wonder how many Mormon women have been conditioned to think that is right for them, and therefore can't really make the choice. But I guess that's a different discussion.

    You're brave for getting a belly button piercing. I think those are cute, but I'm too big of a wimp to try it yet. :)

    I'd be interested in reading your post about education, if you have the link available!

  9. Wow, you made me work but I found the post: The comments are the most exciting. Naturally. :)

  10. Thanks for the post! Sorry it was hard to find! It really resonated with me; I've never understood why women think they have to choose one or the other. Part of the problem is how employment is set up, at least in the US. There's an interesting book on that called Unbending Gender by Joan Williams. But the church certainly doesn't help. It's only recently I've stopped feeling guilty for not wanting kids or wanting to stay home with them.

  11. The blog for primary teachers is going up at (only one post thus far, it's not officially "launched" yet, but we've basically got it up and we just want to get a couple more posts up before we start advertising). Anyway, take a look, if you like it, drop us an email and I'll get you in the loop!

    1. I LOVE this site and have already shared it!!

  12. Jessica added me to the group, so I should be posting there. Thanks for keeping me up to date! I'm excited!

  13. I'm sorry, but if you do not like or believe the teachings of this church then LEAVE!! You are an embarrassment to women of faith and you obviously lack self-esteem if you feel the need to be "unorthodox". Be who you are and be bold enough to do it out in the open and let everyone know, not in secret blogs.
    And Jenni, you should not be teaching primary in "not-so-correlated" ways, they are correlated because God is an organized and simple God.
    As to advanced education, we have a woman in our ward with THREE degrees (including a law degree and a masters)and she is well-loved and respected and as far as I know has never felt held back! BTW, she raised 5 children while doing it!! You gals are sadly misinformed. I have no WOUND feminine or otherwise, I am no victim!

    1. Caren, shame on you. Just shame on you. You identify yourself as LDS. That means you allegedly are a follower of Jesus Christ. Can you please show me where in the scriptures he commanded his followers to condemn and shame others of his followers? Can you justify through Christ's perfect gospel of love making someone feel unwelcome and outcast? Can you explain how you, an imperfect and flawed fallen human being just like the rest of us, have such a perfect knowledge of another person's heart and soul that you can cast such judgment on them?

      You are not Jesus. You are only his follower. As such, your responsibility is not to condemn, but to love. At baptism, you covenanted to mourn with those that mourn. That covenant did not allow an exception when you don't understand the cause of the other person's pain. Nor are you excused from it because your experience is different and therefore you think someone else's pain isn't real. You are expected to simply see another human being in need of love and compassion and extend that love and compassion. And if you can't, the least you can do is not lash out in order to wreak even more damage.

      I don't know you. I don't know what your life experience is and why it might have led you to comment in such a hurtful and un-Christlike fashion here. I do know, however, that anyone who names themselves a follower of Christ should at least try to extend compassion to their sisters and brothers, even those who seem threatening or strange or other. It might be in order to take a step back and consider the nature of your own actions at this juncture. Perhaps it would be better to speak of your own personal experience and how it has been positive and nurturing and express your sympathy that someone has had a different one.

    2. Caren, your concern is understandable, given that I didn't give specifics about the kinds of things I'm teaching in primary. I would invite you to read the lesson I posted and see if you find it troubling at all. Yep, I went beyond what was in the manual. I elaborated on things that I have a personal testimony of, but which were not in the manual. The manuals are very simple, and I believe that kids are smarter than that, and that we should give them truth.

      For whatever it's worth, correlation is only partly about designating things as 'correct doctrine.' It is also a list of teaching/discussion topics--and if something falls outside the list, it never makes it into a manual. Things like polygamy, or Heavenly Mother. We don't study the same things every year "because we need to hear them again," we study the same things every year because they are on the approved list of topics. To be uncorrelated does not mean to be apostate. It means to dare to think, care, or speak about a topic outside the official list.

      If it is any comfort to you, my father taught seminary (6 years), and gospel doctrine (at least a decade), and elders quorum, and was EQpres, and high priest group leader, and he is the one who taught me to be uncorrelated. He is the one who taught me (in seminary) that Joseph Smith was plurally married to women who were already married to other men. He is the one who first taught me the doctrine of Theosis (that men become gods, that our god was once a man, and that there are therefore many gods). Those are thoroughly uncorrelated. They are also historical fact (in the first case), and well-documented doctrine (in the second).

      I am uncorrelated because "the glory of God is intelligence" and I truly believe that neither my god nor myself should accept my being a follower only. Indeed, we are told to search things out, to study them out, to gain whatever intelligence we can. I am not going to stop studying and learning and gaining knowledge and testimony just because I've reached the end of the list of correlated topics.
      I apologize if this sounds a little defensive. I don't mean it to be, but I do feel very strongly about this matter. I have a testimony of it, even if it's not on the correlated list. It IS scriptural.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. You aren't sorry, so don't say you are. Own your feelings. I can't leave for reasons that I do not need to justify. This blog is not secret; you found it. I write as DefyGravity to maintain consistency across the blogs I write on. My name is Liz, and I'm not hiding. I'm telling my story, which no one is making you read. You know nothing about me, or my self-esteem. I am happy with my decisions and the way I express myself. Just because I feel damaged by the church and you do not, that does not invalidate my feelings. You also do not know what this woman in your ward has experienced and cannot speak for her. You can only speak for your own experience, which is no more valid then mine or anyone else's.

    As for Jenni, she can teach what she feels inspired to teach. Your God may be simple, but my Parents are not. They are complex, and can deal with complexity. And I will teach my truth, and I believe Jenni will too. We speak our God, and will not deny our God for your comfort.

    Finally, you are in no position of authority over me. You have no right to tell me to leave or to stay. It's my choice, and your opinion is noted, but ultimately irrelevant. No one is making you read this. You have a community that you feel comfortable, who defines God as you do, and is comfortable in the correlated church. I am unwelcome in your community, which you've made quite clear. This blog is about finding a community that will accept me. You won't, so let me find those who will.

    1. I have no position of authority, but I would like you to stay. My favorite part about Mormonism is creating a Zion together and including everyone . If we really do believe that whole societies of people have been able to live in peace together and have no "others"(Enoch's city, Nephites post-Christ), then we believe we can do that again and I hope we are trying for that. DefyGravity, you can be in my Zion if other people don't want you in theirs. <3

  15. I second the IUD suggestion. They last either 5 or 12 years, depending on which you go for. They're highly effective. They're not all that painful. The procedure for getting one was actually pretty mild in terms of pain. The copper IUD does cause slightly more severe cramps, so keep that in mind. I went that way because I wanted to avoid the hormones involved in Mirena, which is the one that's hormone based.

    I think the point of doing something like an IUD rather than a tubaligation is that it allows you the space in which to evolve as an individual. Maybe you'll never change your mind about having children; maybe you will. There's nothing wrong with either option, but it's nice to have the freedom to accommodate ways in which you as an individual change or not over time.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I've heard horror stories, so it's good to know that it doesn't have to be that way. And I agree; it's less permanent. So if we do end up changing our minds, we haven't completely cut off the options.

    2. I was told that the copper one lasts 10 years, not 12. I also wanted to avoid the hormones. Also, I experienced bad cramping for the first couple of months, but then it has alleviated. My flow has been heavier than it used to be, but I never had a terribly heavy flow to begin with, so it is still manageable.

      As for the IUD vs tubal, not only does it (like Amelia said) allow room for change and personal evolution, but it also is a whole lot easier on your body--the IUD goes in in a 20 min appointment; a tubal is pretty significant abdominal surgery. If we opt to go a surgical route, it'll be the snip for the hubby, not for me.

  16. Caren,

    You state "I am no victim"-- but do you recognise that you are a bully? Is this why you are not a victim? Because you are a bully instead? You have tried to victimize DefyGravity out of the church that she questions in you comment in guise of defending the church. This makes you a cyber bully.

    You also say "I'm sorry, but..." You are not sorry. You are a bully. You are not standing for Christ. You are not making Christlike or inspired comments. You claim to repent by saying you are sorry, then you act as a bully.

    DefyGravity is NOT an embarrassment to women of faith; I am a woman of faith. I struggle, I seek, I pray. I like being around women who are like DefyGravity, because she is like me- she is seeking in methods that are different to mine, and different to your's-- but she is seeking. Seeking God is admirable, in all forms. You may disprove of the methods in which she seeks inspiration and direction, but you are NOT to judge. God is complicated. God is omniscient, and omnipotent. Seeking to understand direction through study, faith and under the direction of the spirit takes an ongoing, serious commitment. Perhaps you should try it.

  17. Dear Spunky, if that is your real name,

    Wow, I have never felt so popular! Of course I knew when I posted a comment on a "wounded women, feminist" blog, I would most definitely be attacked and I sure wasn't disappointed :o) Well, clearly there is no way I can address all of your concerns personally, but I will try to hit the highlights.

    Why is it YOU can write what you feel or have a opinion about but I am not allowed to? Yes, I may have been emotional...I was shocked and appalled to find so many young women who don't know who they are. You spout the feminist rhetoric and try to set yourselves apart from Mormons by doing UN-Mormon things. WHY then do you want to BE a Mormon. I mean Sonia Johnson?? Really?(I actually LIVED the Sonia Johnson debacle). BTW,Mormon Feminist is an oxymoron in my opinion.

    I am FAR from a bully. Note: I never threatened anyone. I have NEVER been one to rock the boat or instigate a confrontation, but when I feel hurt, I will lash out!
    It is bad enough that in this society I already have to defend my faith and beliefs to non-Mormons who don't know better. But now I have to defend my faith and beliefs to those beautiful daughters of God who don't like what God wants them to do or be who He wants them to be. You women should know better. You have been taught, you have been to the temple! You CANNOT separate out what you want to believe from what we are taught to believe.

    Trust me, there are many things that I have been taught that seem to be contrary to how I'm feeling, but I do not "decide" that I won't follow those ideas. I do use prayer and I do have to go back to the foundation of my testimony to know that the prophets lead and direct, not me.

    My comments were not directed ONLY at DefyGravity, I see you didn't catch that. I would never "Victimize DefyGravity out of the church"--I'm not even sure how one would do that, but my question was and is, WHY would you want to be part of a church that has so many beliefs contrary to yours?? She has stated in previous blogs that she is "no longer a doctrinal Mormon". What other kind is there? Our church is based on the doctrine and gospel of Jesus Christ. You either believe or you don't and it seems to me that most of you don't.

    I AM sorry--for you, because you have to rely on one another for your sense of worth rather than God. Women of faith have FAITH and though they may not understand for instance why we do not hold the priesthood, they do not question. We all struggle and seek, we do not all stop paying tithing, wear our garments when we feel like it or try drinking just to see what's it's like.

    I am entitled to my opinion, just as you are, and in my opinion, if you do not have a testimony of temple covenants, the Word of Wisdom, the law of tithing and the power of the priesthood then how in the world can you teach these things to the youngest and most impressionable of God's children?

    1. Faith in Christ is a gift of the Spirit (D&C 46). Some have faith, others have the gift of believing on other's words. Just like you wouldn't say, "You don't have the gift of tongues, so you shouldn't teach children," to say that about faith and testimony is just mean. You can grow a lot as a teacher and I'm glad DefyGravity has the opportunity to be in such a position.

    2. Caren, you are reacting to what you think we believe, not to what any of us has actually said. You claim we are spouting feminist rhetoric, that we don't know who we are, that we don't know what we believe. I can only speak for myself, but I know what I believe. I simply don't believe as you do. I know I am a daughter of Divine Parents, and believe that they support my work as a feminist and are the ones who direct my spirituality. You clearly disagree, but you are not God. I will judge myself by my relationship with God, not others opinion of what God thinks, just as you do. I will trust my Parents over your experience, because your experience is yours only and only guides you. You have a low opinion of Sonia Johnson because of your experience. I have a different experience. You find joy in the church. I have a different experience. Both are valid. I welcome your experience. But I do not welcome name-calling, nor the insistance that because my experiences are different from yours, I am wrong, that God does not approve of me.

      Mormonism and feminism are not always incompatable. If you choose to see it that, that is your business. But I invite you to the Exponent and Feminist Mormon Housewives, where Mormon women try to bridge faith and feminism. Again, your experience is your own, and does not speak for all Mormon women.

      And there is a movement in some Mormon communities to allow Mormons who no longer believe doctrinally to claim Mormonism. I was born and raised Mormon, I was married Mormon, I still attend Mormon meetings. So I believe I can still claim Mormonism. I invite you to explore Stay Mormon, to Mormon Stories podcast, to Joanna Brooks, to learn about this trend in Mormonism. You may not agree with this trend, but it does exist, and is as valid as your view of Mormonism.

      You don't know what my testimony is. For the record, I never said anything about the Word of Wisdom. I also never said that I don't believe in Priesthood, I just struggle with the fact that it is male dominated. And I will not teachanything about my doubts in Primary. They are my doubts, not theirs. They have a right to find their own beliefs. I teach the love of God and the example of Jesus Christ. Come in to my lessons and see.

  18. You are right...You know NOTHING about me. Have you raised a child through the teenage years? Have you buried a child? Have you been homeless, had an alcoholic father, a child molesting grandfather? We are thed to get me through these times. My testimony has only been strengthened by these experiences. I do not wonder why I was born a woman, I am grateful that I was chosen to be a cherished daughter of God. I am not uber confident in who I am, but I know that I will love God with all of my heart and I will obey ALL of His commandments, not just the ones that I agree with.

    Some of you seem to not have even read what I said. I was ASKING a question, which none of you have managed to answer in your angry responses. WHY are you going to an LDS church? There are so many churches where you can choose your own underwear, pay tithing whenever you feel like it and drink until you puke...You can even be the pastor or preacher! But, THIS is not that church. If you don't want to live this way, you will always feel different. You are constantly "bucking the system". How can you ever be happy? So, seriously, what are your reasons?

    To be honest, it is heartbreaking to see that there are so many of you with these feelings of inadequacy or discontent and that you have no problem telling the world how you feel about it. You blame the church and in doing so, God.
    I know that I would never put any anti-Mormon thoughts or opinions on the internet, I will stand for God in ALL things and in ALL places, ALL ways!

    It seems like feminists always put down women. I will embrace my womanhood and the gospel of Jesus Christ which tells me that I should be at home raising and nurturing my children and I am happy to do so. I have been put here for a very special purpose, I haven't always known that and maybe one day you (collective feminists YOU, not personal) will see it too, who knows?
    With maturity comes wisdom.


    1. Why are you trying to tell people to leave the church? I don't understand that at all. With so much emphasis on every member a missionary and fellowshipping and bringing people back who have left, why would anyone tell someone to leave? We need everyone, everywhere. If we tell people to leave, we lose so many wonderful children of God. Let's go after the 1 instead of abandoning it.

    2. Caren, I will say this again. Your experience is your own. It has led you to feel certain things and believe certain things. You find God in your beliefs. I have had different experiences. They have led me to feel certain things and believe certain things. I find God in my beliefs. Both your experiences and mine are valid. Neither of us is more right, and neither of us can tell the other what is right for them. You are welcome to share your experience, but you chose to come into my space and call me an embarressment. You chose to attack my experience. How do you justify that?

      Putting down the church is not putting down Good. I do not see God and the church as one and the same. I have a strong relationship with my Parents, and find them in what I am doing. My feelings toward the church has brought me closer to God. You may not understand that, as I do not understand your relationship with God. But both are real.

      It might interest you to know that many Mormon feminists are stay at home moms. They find God as you do. Just as you believe that your place is with your children. I believe that my place is in the classroom, the courtroom and the stage. God has given me a purpose, as They have given you a purpose. Both are important, both valid, both worthy of respect.

    3. You may not see God and the church as one, but they are my friend. Not understanding this may be where the problem between us lies.

  19. I am not TELLING anyone to leave. I am merely wondering why those with such opposition to church principles and standards would want/choose to continue to stay.
    Can ANY of you address that?

    1. There's an answer that I find very satisfactory, but I have to ask: why do YOU need to police who is going to church and who isn't and if they are worthy or going for the right reasons or whatever? I say live and let live. My life got a lot happier when I realized that!

    2. Direct quote from above, from you, Caren, "I'm sorry, but if you do not like or believe the teachings of this church then LEAVE!!" That didn't sound like a question of, "I would like to understand your position better, help me." That sounded like you were telling people to leave, and that's where you sound like a bully. I'm sorry if I misunderstood that.

      Things like saying someone is an embarrassment is mean. Where is there good in that statement?

      If you truly do want to understand Mormon feminists instead of making assumptions (like about a person's confidence, testimonies, worthiness, ability to teach, etc), then stay around and read. Learn. Feminists ARE angry sometimes. Anger is a part of grief and sometimes when we look around us, we are sad. I love reading Mormon feminist websites because it gives me a chance to learn how other people are feeling and learn to have more sympathy and empathy for their lives. It helps me "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." Being a Mormon feminist is very hard sometimes. It actually takes a lot of faith to keep going someplace you don't feel welcome. It takes a lot of faith to keep going when you know the people around you don't want you there in your calling. I'm admire DefyGravity a lot for keeping this conversation going.

  20. I'm always a bit amused by the uproar that an unapologetic, strong woman can cause. I think that means you are on the right path, my friend. :)

  21. I stay for a variety of reasons, largely family reasons. People stay to keep family peace in their families, to keep marriages together, to stay in a community they enjoy. There are many compelling reasons to stay even when you don't believe. You'd be surprised how many non-belivers there are who stay. If you had the choice between your marriage, your children, your parents, your in-laws' love and respect and a church that made you unhappy what would you choose? Many marriages and family relationships end when someone leaves the church. Wouldn't you stay to keep your family together? Go check out Mormon Stories podcast community if you want examples. Also, this blog is a place to express anger. You assume that anger is all I feel. Would you like to be judged only by the comments you've made here? Probably not. So don't judge me only on my anger. You know who I am. You could speak to me about my beliefs, instead of judging me on a blog designed to allow me to express anger. It is also a little insulting to ask someone why they stay in a church. Religion is a personal choice, and one that can rarely be well-explained. If I asked you why you stay, your response would be personal, and one that you may not wish to share with certain people. My reasons are also personal, and since you came in guns blazing, insisting that my experience is invalid, that I am an ebarressment, how likely would I be to share my personal reasons with you? You've already chosen to come into my space and attack my experience once. So I expect that if I share my personal reasons for staying, they will also be met with criticism. Can you blame me for not laying my life out in front of you, considering how you have reacted to me so far?

  22. Caren, I have answered your question. Now, how did you find my blog? I link it through the Exponent, a site I don't believe you are familiar with. We are not Facebook friends.i'd be interested to know how it migrated so far out of the usual realm. And why did you feel it necessary to talk to the bishop about it rather then addressing me? and does your visiting teachee that you used as an example feel alright being used in such a way? I would like to have an actual discussion with you now that you know who I am. And those are the questions I would like answers to.

  23. First of all, FYI, blogs are not private. They are quite easy to find.
    Second, I was NOT attacking any ONE individual, the only person I addressed by Name was Jenni because I felt that she was not being honest accepting a calling to teach primary when she doesn't believe what she is teaching about the temple or the word of wisdom. Interestingly, she was the kindest in her response.
    Next, I asked why because I am always curious about why people feel/do what they do. Sue me.
    Third, you have NO idea who I was talking about in my comment. Furthermore, I did not "use" her, I referenced her experience to show that you (collective, NOT personally you) don't know everything about the church and higher education.
    Fourth, my best friend had to LEAVE the church to save her marriage so I do know something about choices we have to make. I am not judging anyone for those choices, just wondering why someone would choose to be inauthentic to who they are and how they feel. It seems like a huge price to pay, in my opinion.
    I did not feel it was necessary to talk to the bishop about your blog. To be honest, I felt it was necessary to talk to the primary president about your position on the priesthood as you are teaching my son. After some research (as I didn't keep the letter you wrote to me on the subject months ago and I didn't want to misquote you) I was hit in the face by your anger and it was unsettling at best.

    1. I don't know if you're still reading along here Caren, but I'll try to answer you about why I stay when there are things I struggle with.

      I want to be mormon because I believe the doctrine. I do not always agree with the policies that are used to carry it out. I go to the scriptures, and see that we are told to give to the poor, and to tithe on our increase. Nowhere (not even in a conference talk in fact) have I found a statement that says "give 10% of your gross income to the church"...that is a practice, not a commandment. It is an interpretation of a commandment. I watched my family suffer as we sank into debt because we worked so hard to pay tithes that way...after much study, pondering, and prayer, we understood the commandment in a different way, and now practice it thusly.

      I accepted the calling to be in primary because I am in a branch of 18 people (rural Alaska), and there are 5 primary kids, 3 of whom are my own. For whatever it's worth, most of these kids would be getting these 'lessons' from me anyway. I am throwing out the manuals, I'm just not always sticking wholly to them...most teachers do that in some way or other.

      I think the word of wisdom was given as "advice" and "not by constraint" (as it says right in the text). With that said, I still follow it. I had 2 sips of wine on one night with my husband (the second was as awful as the first and I have no desire to try it again). It wasn't a "just to try it" thing, it was a carefully considered special situation thing. (I have considered the 'just try it' present I have opted not to.) You mentioned a friend who "had to leave the church to save her marriage," and I would argue that this was a similar situation. It meant a lot to my husband that on our anniversary I was willing to share this with him. I would like to stay mormon and I'd like to stay married, and since my husband has left the church that means things are complicated sometimes. (My some days on/some days off with my garments is part of that as well--he really dislikes the garments and wishes I wouldn't wear them, so I'm trying to find a middle ground with honoring both my husband and my church. I am not aware that what I believe about the *temple* ever came up in this conversation. I think there are some fabulous things in the temple, why do you think I want to keep my recommend?)

      Ultimately, I don't know what my future holds. I know that there are plain and precious things in the gospel that I do not want to let go of (this is why I have not walked out, although my husband wants me to). There are other things I really struggle with though--places where policy or practice do not seem to match doctrine as I understand it, and I don't know what to do about that. For myself, I am trying desperately to live authentically. I'm trying to be true to the things that I personally know/feel/believe, even if it's not quite 'party line' with typical current church practice. I'm not telling others to do what I do, but I am trying to be honest about what I am doing and why. I admit it stings to be called inauthentic when authenticity is precisely the reason I have begun to shift my actions in these areas.

    2. Jenni, you're a more stable person then I am. :) You don't sound as pissed as I am, although I tried not to put in my writing.

      I like your interpretations of tithing and the Word of wisdom. I pointed out to my dad the the concept of tithing exists in most faiths, the idea being that you give of what you have to the people around you. I'm behind that 100%. And I hadn't thought about it, but you're right about 10%. Is that even in the D&C? I always assumed it was, but the concept of tithing has altered since the early days of the church. The general point of tithing is to provide for people who need it. I love the Jewish and Muslim concepts of giving alms, and Jana Reiss' chapter on generosity in Flunking Sainthood (awesome book, btw.) I feel that my money and time can do good outside the church as well as inside the church. Would God disapprove of me helping people? I think not.

      Good luck with navigating your relationship with the church. It's a hard thing to do to live authentically, to live a religion that is problematic for you, and to keep a marriage working, and you're trying to do all of it! I admire the way you've found yourself and your dedication to the things that are important to you!

    3. I mis-typed. In the paragraph where I wrote about being in primary, it should read "I am NOT throwing out the manuals."

      I feel frustrated and hurt in no small portion. But my personality is one that 1-thinks things through at great length before taking action and 2-uses words. Stable is a very accurate word, so is pragmatic and careful...but so are stubborn and stick-in-the-mud and emotionally-dead. (Not that I truly am emotionally dead, but it doesn't come out very much...not that I'm poker-faced, I don't try to hide, I just genuinely don't react to stuff...I'm so boring!) But that is a whoooole other conversation. :)

    4. I didn't mean to suggest you weren't hurt or upset by the goings on, just that you seem to handle it better then I do. Sorry if it sounded like I was making judgement calls about how you felt. I was just admiring your reaction. I tend to get pissed and run my mouth off, rather then calming down before responding, which you seem to do. I envy that. We both seem attracted to expressing ourselves in writing though. And I don't believe you are boring. My husband doesn't get ruffled easily, which makes him more grounded and less of a jerk then I am. But maybe we need stable people and people who react quickly in the world.

      And as for Primary manuals, most teachers I know deviate at some point because some activities just aren't going to work with a particular class. And some lessons are just not written very well in my snotty teacher's opinion. I teach the goal, but not all the activities.

  24. Now, I'd like to know why YOU found it necessary to go to the bishop with my response to your blog? We already know you have no respect for him so why would it matter what he said or thought on the matter. He only wants to help, I can respect that.

    You, on the other hand have done what most people do who are unsure of their position, you twist things to suit yourself. Believe me, my guns were not blazing...was I shocked? Yes.. Was I stunned at the comments from all of you on the subject? Yes. I admit to being completely naive on the subject of Mormon feminism. Was I emotional? Yes. But I was not the bully, you all have made the bully quite clear.

    Your continued hostility and disdain for me clearly indicate that my son has no place in your class. Honestly, I'[m not sure how we will proceed, but my husband and I will discuss and decide what is best for our family going forward.

    I will no longer be responding to any more attacks or judgements towards me on this site. I have no further desire to understand Mormon Feminism as I have absolutely NO reference point for that "feminine wound" you want to expound on. I have no anger towards you or the church or anyone else with the exception of child molesters.

    So feel free to go back to your rantings, throw out the garments, pay tithing when you feel like it. You should only concentrate on finding happiness wherever it is comfortable for you. I certainly have no ill will to you, any of you. I was just looking for some answers. I got that and so much more.

    1. Caren, I wish that you would have been "no longer responding" far earlier than this comment. Your tone is incredibly hurtful and angry, and it is still positively puzzling to me. Why do you care about what people here want to talk about? We aren't doing anything to you. You, however, have swooped in with judgements and condemnations. Shame on you.

  25. .... WOW.

    DefyGravity, I've had so many similar experiences but have been lucky in that none were in my ward at the time. I hope it gets better somehow.

    1. I've been following your thread on FMH, and Facebook stalking the conversation. I'm so sorry. It's so hard when everyone else gets to act like a jerk and you have to be patient and respectful to try to get your point across. I've had several similar conversations with people I haven't talked to in years who only post when I put up something from FMH or the Exponent to bear their testimonies of the Family Proc. or gender roles or the divine difference between men and women (gag.) I'm sorry you're dealing with it too. :( Good luck!