A 1999 color illustration of Barbie in an evening gown, surrounded by images of Barbie as a nurse, an astronaut, an anchorwoman, etc. (Jim Hummel/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)
(Source: Jim Hummel/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

“Feminism” is a word that is often looked down upon. It is a belief that is swept under the rug and considered taboo. However, I am not afraid to say it.

I am a feminist.

When asked if I am a feminist, I say yes, to which many people reply, “But you’re a Mormon.”

This is true. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I am a feminist.

That leads those people to continue questioning me, “Do you want to hold the priesthood?” To which I reply that no, I do not.

People may say that my church oppresses women and that we are treated unfairly, but I can testify that that is the farthest thing from the truth.

For 19 years, I have watched my dad, who holds the priesthood, treat my mother like a queen. When I turned 16 years old, I started dating boys who held the priesthood and when I was with them, they made sure I wanted for nothing.

The priesthood has blessed me in more ways than I can count, much less write. It is not something that is used to hold women down, it is used to buoy women up.

I’ve learned that the feminist beliefs I hold value the differences between men and women.

I would be crazy to think that I could do everything a man could. There are things that men do, such as holding the priesthood, that women just can’t. Likewise, there are things women do that men can’t. It doesn’t mean either one of us are better or worse than the other.

Men and women have different, God-given gifts. The priesthood, for example, is a gift given to men when they turn 12 years old. From the outside, it may look like women don’t get any gifts, but believe me, we do.

Our gift is called motherhood. Women are the only ones who get the blessing of giving birth, and men are never going to change that.

Many also think that the very act of being a mother does not coincide with being a feminist. After all, aren’t they supposed to oppose all things feminine?

In the Bible, it says, “And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him an help meet for him.”

And when God created Eve, he did not make her out of a bone in Adam’s foot, to be trodden on by Adam, nor did He make her out of a piece of Adam’s skull, to be above him.

God created Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs, so that they could work together side-by-side, buoy each other up in trials and celebrate each other’s joys.

Nothing worthwhile in this world, not even the priesthood, works unless there is a man and a woman working together, for each other, not against each other.

You see, being a feminist is not about wanting every little thing to be equal between men and women, its wanting the value in our differences to be seen. Feminism is wanting equal opportunities, even if they are different, and wanting to have a voice just as loud as anyone else’s.

No, I do not shun dresses and lipstick and I do not see men as the enemy. However, I do not think that my only place in this world is the kitchen and I do not want to hold the priesthood.

And it is all because I am an LDS feminist.

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7 Comments

  1. Your definition of feminism is a little skewed. It makes me think of the old belief of “separate but equal”.

    So, speaking as a man who is a former member of the church, women are not treated as equal. From the age of 12 I was taught to treat women like prizes, not people. If you go on a mission, you’ll get a girl, and if you do a good job, you’ll get a pretty girl. These are the sentiments pushed into young mormon minds. Luckily I had a father who taught me that a woman wasn’t just a trophy, but a person, and an equal.

    Your analogy of Eve’s creation is perfect by the way. A woman’s very existence is completely dependent on a man, and further than that, dependent on a man’s sacrifice. If god could create man out of dust, what does it say about your belief system when a women wasn’t created from the same elements?

    Of course it’s true that there are differences between men and women, but saying that those differences make a woman less capable makes me think about the history of phrenology and how it was used to say that black people weren’t capable of the sames things white people were because their skulls were different.

    Feminism is equality, plain and simple. If a man is afforded an opportunity, a woman should also be afforded that same opportunity. Her choice to take up that opportunity or not is hers.

    Also as a side note, are we going to BYU now? Why the hell is a religious commentary on the front page of a public university newsletter?

  2. I commend you for this column! I am not LDS, but have been intrigued with the debate about women holding the priesthood. I really enjoyed hearing your view on this matter and admire your ability to stand up for your beliefs. Go you!

  3. I agree with you in that someone can be Mormon and a feminist. In fact, I am a Mormon feminist, but you didn’t provide any substantial information as to how that is possible. I am able to be a Mormon and a feminist because there are certain aspects of the Church (whether doctrinal or cultural) that I don’t agree with. I would say that it is impossible to be both while agreeing with ALL Church cultural and doctrinal policies. For example, you gave the example of the creation of Eve. It sounds like you take that scripture at face value to believe that Eve was created FOR Adam. That is an inherently misogynistic idea and ultimately, anti-feminist. Additionally, some of the Church’s curriculum around modesty and sexuality are also unequally geared toward and harmful to women, and the majority of powerful women in the Bible are not recognized in Church handbooks and teaching manuals (in fact, in a recent lesson, the manual referred to the prophetess Deborah as a “righteous friend” that helped her doubting male subordinate succeed in battle). These are all things that cause the Church to be unequal.

    I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The reason I’m able to do that and remain a feminist, is because I believe that a lot of the historical and present policies that keep women subordinate were/are merely based on prejudice and haven’t yet been corrected. I believe they are yet to be corrected.

  4. Oh goodness, this story was hard to read.
    I honestly am ashamed of the woman who wrote this? My dear, you have not the slightest clue of what
    Feminism is. “I would be crazy to think that I could do everything a man could. There are things that men do, such as holding the priesthood, that women just can’t.” So, what makes men more eligible to hold priesthood? The only reconcilable difference between men and women (besides the obvious biological differences) is the fact that men are naturally stronger. So do you have to be insanely strong to hold priesthood? Someone explain.
    What about the women who cannot conceive and have children? Does that make them less of a woman, and less equal to men? If that’s our main “blessing” as women, am I not equal to man if I do not want to have children?
    Regardless if Eve was created from foot or leg, she was still derived from Adam – based on the LDS belief. I don’t know how that shows any sort of equality – regardless of what part of the body she was made from.
    You are not a feminist if you believe that you can do the same jobs as men. Why can’t you hold priesthood? What makes you unable?
    This article was poorly written, I hope this doesn’t represent the view of all “Mormon Feminists”

  5. Feminist: “A person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Although you are entitled to your own happiness, and have a strong opinion on what happiness should look like to women; understand that others may not find their joy in the same manner. You see, feminism does not condemn you for wanting to be a wife and mother, infact those (unlike you), who truly understand the concept of feminism applaud you for being able to attain your own, personal happiness. You see, it’s not a one way street, if you are allowed the freedom to makes decisions best for you, it holds the same affect for others. Women who choose not to have children, become wives, or do not hold the same values as you, still deserve the respect you so desperately look for. You base a woman’s worth off of her sexuality and capability to utalize it in a ‘fitting’ manner; but here’s the truth, women are more than their reproductive organs and should be able to find their happiness just like you have. Ps. Your statement on a male and female partnership being the strongest partnership is quite insensitive to the LGBTQ community.

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