In response to the Ordain Women movement, many women in the church have been circulating a video by Sheri Dew called “What Women Get.” Today’s guest post is a response to the points Sis. Dew raises in this video, and why this isn’t enough. Welcome to guest poster Madison P.!
Here’s a run down of the list of things LDS women “get” as part of the package deal of being a Mormon woman:
- to serve in the Relief Society. An organization which is currently run entirely under male oversight.
- to write the biographies of men.
- to be president of an organization owned by the church. Actually this is just what Sheri Dew gets. And if she had followed the traditional track for LDS women of getting married and having lots of kids and staying at home with them, she would not have been president of any company. Her point that women are not banned from those positions (which is probably illegal).
- to have privileges, opportunities, and expectations that would require ordination in other churches. This one is kind of a dodge, since she avoids comparing what women get with what men get in the Mormon church; instead she compares what Mormon women get to what women in other churches get.
- to go to the temple and participate in priesthood ordinances. Of course, women make some different covenants than men, and those covenants put the woman below the man.
- to have more teaching responsibility and leadership than women in other religions. Bully for us! We don’t have to wear burqas either. It’s a low bar. Besides which I’ve spoken to an Anglican bishop who was a woman, and she had much more teaching responsibility and leadership than your average Mormon lady. Also she was really cool.
- to receive revelation for the church. This claim is baffling. The only thing that comes close is Emma Smith for whom Joseph received a revelation.
- to never have been excluded from the temple. She has conveniently forgotten black women prior to 1978.
We also get
- the gift of the Holy Spirit, something everyone gets at baptism.
- the privilege of receiving revelation (but only for ourselves, since men alone receive revelation for the family, the ward, the stake, and the church)
- the privilege of receiving the endowment (where women make different promises than men, as mentioned earlier)
- the privilege of receiving spiritual gifts (which you don’t even have to be a member of the church to have)
- the privilege of bearing and rearing children (again, so do nonmembers. So do animals. Oh, and not all women can have kids, either for biological or emotional reasons, or because they never find someone they care to procreate with)
- the privilege of receiving all the blessings of the Atonement (so does everyone, Mormon or not)
- She also says that the church “loves, values, teaches, and trains” women. Those are things you can do to a dog. It doesn’t have much to do with equality.
This all sounds nice and good, but when you break it down these are platitudes which skirt around actual problems faced by women who feel unequal in the church. And also, they are pretty much the bare minimum. Does the prophet want a medal for not banning women from the temple (any more) and granting us access the Atonement?
And really, the very fact that our leaders make speeches like this proves that the “equality” of the church is not evident. We need to be convinced.
So I wanted to clarify what Sis. Dew doesn’t mention: what don’t LDS women get?
- to participate in ordinances involving our children.
- to give our children blessings.
- to access the divine feminine.
- to know for sure which scriptures that talk about “men” mean humanity in general and which just mean dudes.
- to have as many role models from the scriptures as our brothers. The Book of Mormon has six named women. None of them are religious or military leaders. And of course, there are lots of nameless women who get raped and/or kidnapped and/or murdered. The Bible has a handful more ladies, but still a lot of rape. We don’t have Sunday School lessons based on Deborah or most of the other females that are in scriptures.
- to be consulted on matters that affect us like the language of the “Proclamation on the Family” and the design of women’s garments.
- to confess sexual sins to a woman, if that makes us more comfortable.
- to handle church finances.
- to be called by the title “President” rather than “Sister” in relevant callings.
- in a similar vein, to be called “Elder” rather than “Sister” while serving a mission.
- to serve a mission for the same length of time as a man.
- in regards to church programs for young women, to have the same budget as programs for young men.
- to serve as Sunday School President, Ward Mission Leader, Church Education Commissioner, or BYU, BYU-I, and BYU-H President even though those callings doesn’t require the priesthood.
- to participate in leadership roles in missions, over both sisters and elders.
So, moving on to a few points for discussion:
- Why is it so important for LDS women to convince themselves they are equal using videos like the one Sheri Dew has published?
- What would equality look like short of ordination? Why is ordination for women out of the question?
- Should the sexes remain segregated, with or without ordination? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this? How can equality be achieved if the sexes remain separate with one of them completely in charge of the other?