For the first time in forever…they were noticed by someone! (Feel free to sing along.)
Today, Peggy Fletcher Stack reported that the LDS church has made a huge, bold move into the 20th century! They have, for the first time, included…wait for it…portriats of general female auxiliary leaders on the Conference Center walls!
According to an LDS spokeswoman (Jessica Moody, the church's official go to gal for all things feminist):
Conversations about giving more visibility to women have been going on for some years. The decision to have the sister leaders of the church be more visible in the Conference Center is just one outcome of those conversations.
Progress is progress. I'm actually quite happy about this change and — more to the point — glad these issues are on the radar. Still, I'm dismayed that it needed “some years” of conversation to happen rather than being one of those many things that is patently obvious. Within only about one or two LDS conversations or situations, gender awkwardness is all over the place.
John and Suzy Thompson just got called as mission presidents! I mean mission president couple. I mean mission president and…wife.
OK, so I agree it's better than when (not so far) back in the day, you would have heard this:
John Thompson just got called as a mission president!
End story. Oh, except that the Church News article raving about the newly called prez's job timeline, massive church leadership experience, and general overall awesomeness would be followed with a one-line wifey shoutout:
President Thompson is married to the former Suzy Jones.
Even the Church News beefed up the coverage of the President Wife a few years ago by adding some biographical information about her to the news. So, again, progress. Yea.
Is there any way — you know, other than hosting a protest outside of the general priesthood session for which I'd be banned from Temple Square until the millennium — to get some of these basic, simple, obvious things done before I'm 80?
All “they” need to do is read a post or two (or two dozen) by a “radical Mormon feminist” to get some really simple, sound — and mostly easy — ideas. Kind of like the changes in Sacrament Meeting prayers and General Conference prayers. Change a line of code in the handbook and make a phone call to an authoritative sounding gal. Boom. Done.
Here are a few ideas of my own for how church leaders can include women more without any (real or perceived) doctrinal conflicts:
- Include the General Women's Meeting as a real conference session, instead of an aberration that is stuck (out of order) in the back of the Ensign.
- Have the General Women's Meeting include Young Women and adult women, rather than baptized Primary-aged children. (Not just for the sake of parity, but simply to provide a meeting that won't have to be somewhat “dumbed down” to elementary school addresses.)
- Have more than two women speak at General Conference.
- Allow Young Women to be assigned as visiting teachers with an adult woman so they can learn the process and get comfortable with it.
- If women are expected to, say, move halfway around the world with their husbands, learn a language, and spent full time serving missionaries, give them an actual title and calling (other than “wife of…).
- Let sister missionaries (who have long been claimed to be more mature and productive than similarly aged male counterparts) go on missions at 18 instead of continuing to give age preference to elders.
- Just as a man gives the “keynote” address at every general meeting for female members, include a female speaker at the men's meetings. (If gender is as important as the church says, female perspective is needed.)
- Hire women to teach seminary regardless of their marital/parental status. (If we call them to teach for free and we hire them to do seminary/church office administration, claiming some kind of moral imperative to keep them away from students is disingenuous.)
- Talk about Heavenly Mother. Find out about Heavenly Mother so we can talk about her. (Corollary: stop spreading the myth that she's “too sacred to talk about.”)
- Talk about priestesses/priestesshood. Find out about priestesses/priestesshood so we can talk about it.
Do you see a (real or perceived) doctrinal conflict with any of these ideas? Since the church has said it's striving to be more inclusive, what ideas do you have about how this could be accomplished?