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Nigerian Christian Girls Held Captive; Forced to convert to Islam

Recent blog posts by Kate Kelly and Joanna Brooks on FMHseem to embrace some of what I was trying to convey with this post.  There seems to me, the way that I read those two articles, a recognition that things are not just about white, privileged, Mormon feminists but the net of equality is cast much larger. Now, I may not agree with their overall assessment of the simple changes that seem to be happening at the HQ level, but, I do, like they, rejoice at the expanding umbrella of inclusion that seems to be happening.

But more than that, I rejoice that there is some recognition in the largely white feminist community that it isn’t all about them.

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One of the war cries of modern feminism is that of male privilege. There is no doubt that in certain areas like employment and pay, education, property rights, sexual rights, etc., men throughout the ages have enjoyed considerable advantage due to perceived gender roles. This so-called privilege has largely, but not completely dissipated in areas of employment and pay and education.  While equal pay is still not 100% equal in all cases, it’s better than it has ever been. Women now dominate the ranks of those seeking higher education, particularly Masters and Ph.D. degrees. More married and married with young children women work outside the home (about 70%) than at any other time in history almost on par with single women and far greater than widowed, divorced or separated women.

However, when compared with the blight of women in many parts of the under-developed world, typically women of color, the privileged shoe appears to be on the other foot. And, if you make a real comparison, the privilege of the modern feminist transcends those of males of the third world as well. I thought I would give a few examples, not nearly all encompassing, of the trials faced by women in the third world compared to the privilege enjoyed by those in the so-called first or developed world.

Third World Female Privilege First World Female Privilege
Breast Ironing Ability to hold public office
Disease Access to contraception
Domestic abuse Access to excellent OB-GYN care
Female Infanticide Adequate housing
Female Sexual Mutilation Clean water, air and food
Forced religious conversion Education including advanced degrees
Forced underage marriages Employment
High Infant and child mortality Employment advancement
Kidnapping Excellent health care
Lack of contraception Freedoms (many)
Lack of proper housing Generally free from crime and violence
Lack of, or poor education Generally raised in a safe, loving environment
Low life expectancy High life expectancy
Low standard of living High standard of living
No voice Marriage by choice
Plural wives Own property
Poor medical and OB-GYN Care Sexual freedom
Poor sanitation
Poverty
Rampant sexually transmitted diseases
Rape
Slavery, including sex slavery
Violence
Wife burning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know that some would immediately take issue with some of the privilege they enjoy stating that their particular life has some level of hardship. Everyone’s does. Many men also have hard lives, certainly not ideal and that hasn’t stopped the claim of male privilege.

It should not be understated that many women all over the world have suffered at the hands of men. That is true.

One other interesting aspect of this situation was one that was recently brought to light by an article by Peggy Fletcher Stack in the Salt Lake Tribune entitled “For many black Mormons, racism is a bigger issue than sexism.”  In a very telling quote, “”If you look at the reality of a white woman’s lot in life in terms of freedom,” says Catherine M. Stokes, a former public-health professional who joined the LDS Church in Chicago in 1979 and now lives in Utah, “you [black women] don’t have much to identify with.”

This particular article prompted one Mormon feminist to write, “I’ve realized how blinded by my privilege I’ve been.”

And while you can certainly read ad infinitum about all the daily injustices the Church, its rules, its practices, the Priesthood, garments, the men and other women have done to these women, what you do not see is much sustained concern for the blight of the women in the third world or women of color who face many more real trials than, for example, not being able to hold their baby during a blessing of the child.

Why is that?