A Woman's Place - Part 2

As the unofficial welcome wagon in our old subdivision in Arizona, I met nearly every new family that came through our part of the neighborhood.  Some of the people that I grew the closest to were Latter Day Saints (a.k.a Mormons).  At first, it was difficult for me to understand why so many women willingly chose to become Mormon or to stay Mormon.  It turns out that I wrongly equated their doctrine with keeping women in their place.

To figure out how women didn't run screaming from the patriarchy, I posed endless questions about their religion.  Their answers made me think a lot about my own beliefs, or lack thereof.  I met so many Mormon women who loved being mothers.  I mean they loved it, and not in a cutesy polka-dotted apron kind of way.  They dug deep within themselves to help everyone they cared about get to church activities and understand why it was so important to do so.  They taught their daughters that their worth came from their strength of spirit, not being overtly sexy or trying to impress boys in the wrong ways.

They never spoke about their husbands in disparaging terms.  I found this very refreshing.  I could see their joy and delight in every little thing that happened in their families and how they saw everything else as a chance to grow.  Amidst my depression and general feelings of worthlessness, I tried this on.  I tried on what I thought these women were all about - sacrificing their own needs to support their families.

I discovered that Mormon doctrine does not intend for women to sacrifice their own needs.  Their church leaders know that this kind of lifestyle is destructive to women.  It took me a surprising amount of time to figure that out.  I was pretending to be Mormon the wrong way.

In fact, when I got to know some LDS ladies much more personally, I was in awe of their happiness to serve their family, while they took care of themselves.  That means different things to different women, of course.  I will always be grateful for that education, given gracefully and lovingly by my LDS friends.

After we settled into our new house in Missouri, I reread some of my favorite books, including one by Bell Hooks.  I found a few passages that I could not possibly have understood until after my soul-searching journey with the Mormons.  I already knew that Latter Day Saints believed that God gave our spirits the choice to come to here with free agency, but without remembering ourselves in our original divine forms.  They believe that you can choose to do whatever you wish in your lifetime.  (Important to note that this doesn't mean there will be no consequences for your actions, just that you are free to choose.) Then I saw this:

"If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency." - Bell Hooks, Feminism is for Everybody.

The choices women make are complex and difficult, but it sounds to me like Bell Hooks and Mormons are speaking the same truth:

Be who you are fully and without apology in the face of scorn. 
I love it when two things that are seemingly opposed, are united by one immutable law and they suddenly make sense together 

I believe that raising the status of women raises the status of everyone.  I'm still not sure if I'll ever be a part of any organized religion, but I finally understand why I was so drawn to women who are deeply religious.  They are living their truth and that is beautiful.

For insight into some of the most important lessons I've taken away from considering how Feminism and Mormonism intersect, read "A Woman's Place - Part 3" coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. I think you struck just the right balance here! Love it!


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