Call to Action: Contribute to an Anthem for Mormon Feminists

In honor of WAVE’s first birthday and thanks to one of our newest and quickly becoming a favorite feminist blogger, WAVE is excited to invite all of you to participate in our newest Call to Action.

This month, we are joining with Jena (blogging at Like Unto Eve) to brainstorm and write the lyrics to a new song intended to become an anthem for Mormon feminists.

Our LDS Hymn Sisters in Zion began in a similar way. Originally published in the Women’s Exponent, the leadership of the Relief Society requested that readers submit their original verses for consideration to be included in the hymn. You are familiar with the three verses in our current hymnbook, but did you know that you can find up to 10 recorded verses?

Finding inspiration from scriptures in the Book of Mormon, Jena has given us a start to this new hymn: complete with meter and melody. Please join with us to add to these verses and see the beautiful music we can create together.

Jena writes:

About a week ago I was driving home from somewhere or another and thinking about something I wrote in a recent blog post :

It’s time for us to “arise from the dust, my sisters, and be women, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that we may not remain in captivity.” Indeed, “Awake, my sisters; put on our armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which we are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.” (Likened from 2 Nephi 1:21, 23, Also reference The Book of Morma)

I started humming and in a few minutes I had the rough idea for what turned into an anthem. I could hear a snappy, staccato rhythm and a unison chorus of women’s voices.

Awake and arise, my sisters,
Awake and arise, my friends!
Arise from the dust (Come shake off your dust?)
For labor we must.
It’s time for our work to begin.

Awake and arise, my sisters,
Awake and arise, my friends!
Come shake off your chains
Of heartache and shame
It’s time for oppression to end.

Other ideas came and went and were written down and altered, and while [I think] they’re great, they’re just one woman’s perspective. My vision for this anthem is 5-10 verses (they’re short after all) encompassing a much broader and more inclusive scope. I’d like to have a variety of perspectives and subjects covered in the name of unity and understanding. I want there to be something that just about everyone can identify with as a call to action in life

So I’m opening it up to the audience! Compose your own verse(s) and submit them for consideration.

Meter: 87558
Rhyme scheme: ABCCB

To hear the tune, visit this link on youtube: “Awake and Arise” tune (Only those with the link can access, so feel free to pass it along).

The first two lines don’t have to be the same as the verses above.

Submissions are open until October 7th. Together, Jena and the WAVE board will be deciding on the final draft and announce a decision Friday, October 14th. Winners will get co-authorship credit and the opportunity to participate in recording if desired. Submissions will be accepted at likeuntoeve (at) gmail (dot) com.

My Stake Conference Weekend

Guest Post by Michael G.

I wish you all could have been in my stake this weekend. It was our stake
conference, and I just love the direction that the stake presidency seems to
be trying to go since they were called a little over a year ago.

I first have to say that my world got sort of rocked over the weekend, and I
am trying to come to grips with it. I got called in to the stake president’s
office and was told they wanted to ordain me to high priest. Technically, I
can’t say exactly why at this point, but let’s just say I’m getting a new
calling. It was a very enlightening meeting with my leaders (stake
presidency member and later my bishop). I was honest about my sustaining of
leaders (I don’t think sustaining means I have to agree with everything they
say or do). I was honest that I am not sure I have a 100% knowledge of all
of my testimony, but I am a believer, and I want to help people follow
Christ. They (the leaders) were perfectly fine with my feelings. So that
felt pretty good.  Just to give a little more background, I am generally a
liberal thinker politically, and I have openly questioned the church’s
stance on homosexuality, and women’s roles in the church.

Anyway, for stake conference my wife and I attended the adult session on
Saturday night, and the general session of conference on Sunday. It was a
beautiful thing. In the Saturday night session, a sister from our ward spoke
about how she got her children to go to the temple. She has 11 children (7
born to her, and 4 adopted). Of the 11, 6 are of temple-attending age, and 5
of the 6 have been to the temple, while one is completely out of the church.
I loved her talk. She openly admitted that she didn’t really do anything,
rather, she allowed her children to make sometimes wrong choices, but the
five of them eventually were married in the temple.  She even admitted not
holding a temple recommend when her first daughter was married in the
temple, and that she then resolved to not miss out on any other of her
children’s marriages.  I just loved the honesty.  In no way did she try to
imply or show that she “fit the mold.” And I think that was by design. Her
life has been a struggle, but she still has faith in God and in the church.

In the general session two more sisters from our ward spoke. One sister has
been through the death of her first husband, a divorce from her second
husband, and she is now on a third marriage. She gave an excellent talk.
She is a counselor in the primary presidency in our ward, and she is a
wonderful lady.  The second sister who spoke is married to a man who is not
a member of the church, so she takes her children to church alone. She
teaches the 12-13 year-old Sunday School class.  She did a wonderful job, as
well.  Both of them were honest about their struggles, and the less than
ideal challenges that they have faced over the course of their lives.

It just struck me that apart from talks given by ecclesiastical leaders, the
other talks were filled by women. This is the same stake that has recently
had a sister come to stake general priesthood meeting to address the
brothers on the importance of home teaching. It is exciting to me that I
feel like the stake is acknowledging openly that nobody – no individual, no
family – is perfect, and that we have amazing sisters in the church. I wish
we could carry this attitude over into the general church body. I know we
still have a long way to go, but it makes me optimistic about the future. I
at least feel like our stake is in the hands of excellent leaders who “get
it,” or at least are trying to think outside the box in some ways.

Thanks for letting me share. Not all Sundays are like this for me, so I am
happy when I am excited about Sunday once in awhile.

CALL FOR ESSAYS- Motherhood

Guest Post by ifrit

Call for your Stories

My spouse and I are writing a book, and we need your help. Please read
the following description of our goals, and if you would like to
contribute, please contact us. Any help you offer will be greatly
appreciated.

On the whole, being a mom is a positive experience for most. However,
there is a stigma (both in the LDS church and the world at large)
attached to the idea that a mother might feel anything but happiness
and contentment regarding her child-rearing duties. It is completely
normal for a mother to feel dissatisfied when spending her time
cleaning up various bodily fluids and riding the wave of one tantrum
after another. A mother needs space, time to pursue hobbies unrelated
to children, church, and home, and the freedom to define herself not
just as a mother and wife, but as a person. We don’t talk about this
enough. We prefer to make jokes of the difficulties involved with
being a mom, or to ignore them in favor of painting a simpler, rosier
picture of a mother’s heart. In this, we do a disservice to mothers
and to their families. For the important work that mothers do, they
deserve more support, and a way to love themselves during the rocky
patches instead of feeling guilty.

Postpartum depression is another issue. It can include many symptoms,
from feeling down for an extended amount of time after giving birth,
to suicidal feelings and recurring disturbing thoughts about harming
the baby. Between 10%-20% of mothers suffer from postpartum depression
The mother has little control over whether it happens, yet when it
does, there is often too little support or understanding to be found
from those around her. Add to this general depression, which strikes
women at a higher rate than men (about 1 out of 8 women suffer from it
at some point in their lives), and we can see the importance of
addressing depression among LDS mothers. It is not enough to tell moms
that they’re doing a great job, that God loves them, and so forth. The
best way to help is to acknowledge and discuss the issue, publicly, so
that moms who suffer (and their families) know that they are not
wrong, or abnormal, or bad, and that there are many resources
available to help them.

Depression, isolation, and dissatisfaction are bad enough problems on
their own, but we make them worse by the way we handle them. Or don’t
handle them, as the case too often is. For a mother to admit
unhappiness is taboo, so mothers who experience difficulty often don’t
realize they are not alone. They feel abnormal, inadequate, or guilty.
These feelings can make depression and dissatisfaction even worse,
damaging the mother and possibly even her family.
Some would say we should not focus on the negative. Motherhood is
important and necessary. Sacrifice, and even some unhappiness, is a
natural part of being a parent, and the results are worth it.

Let’s say I’m making a cake. When it’s done, it’s going to be the
richest, most satisfying cake ever. If I want that batter to get all
cakified, I have to bake it, and for baking to happen, the pan is
going to have to get very hot. But for someone to say, “This hot pan
is the natural state of things; I can’t have my cake without it,” and
then grab the pan without an oven mitt because well, the pan is
*supposed* to be hot…what is the point? Yet how often do we approach
motherhood this way? “You have to sacrifice,” we say. “That’s the
natural state of things. Your kids are worth it.” Yeah. That’s true.
But does that mean we shouldn’t grab an oven mitt and, say, take time
to relax during the baby’s nap? Or tell the kids to fold their own
laundry? Or at least, for Heaven’s sake, acknowledge that the pan is,
indeed, hot? Grabbing it with your bare hands will not make the cake
turn out any better.

It is not just the mother’s feelings that need to be addressed. In a
church where many believe that motherhood is a woman’s highest
calling, even the purpose of her creation, imagine the sadness and
shame a mother would feel when, upon confiding in friends, family, or
church leaders that she feels unhappy, out of control, or dissatisfied
with her life, she might not get the response she expected:

“Motherhood is your divine calling; your unhappiness is a sin. You
need to repent, and then you will feel better.”
“You are crazy.”
“You’re a bad mother.”
“You must have done something wrong. God is punishing you.”

Sadly, these responses are real-life. I’ve run across all of them, and
many more, in my research on this subject. And where the mother does
not hear these things from other people, she tends to fill in the
blanks herself.

There is a real need for more education and more open discussion among
the LDS people when it comes to the realities of motherhood. There are
so many happy, fulfilling things about being a mom, and we should not
forget that. But when we ignore these very real problems, or gloss
over them in favor of presenting a simpler picture, mothers and their
families get hurt. We need to acknowledge that motherhood has real
challenges, and we need to talk about them openly so that the stigma
and the guilt are replaced by understanding and support. Husbands and
older children need to take an active role in making sure each mom
gets frequent time to be the woman she was before she got married and
had kids; to pursue hobbies unrelated to children, church, or home.
“Mother” is only one possible aspect of a woman, and however important
that aspect may be, a woman who is only a mother is not a whole woman.

The book my husband and I are working on addresses these topics and
more. Our point is to let mothers know they’re not alone (something
that came up as important over and over in my research), and to
educate the general LDS public. We’re including anonymous personal
stories and, hopefully, pieces of interviews from well-known LDS women
who are familiar with these issues in one way or another. We hope that
reading about familiar women who are known to be good and active in
the gospel and have experience with the more difficult side of
motherhood will help people realize that experiencing difficulty is
not abnormal or wicked. Many people are (understandably) reluctant to
talk about tough topics like postpartum depression or feelings of
unfulfillment and inadequacy. But the women and families of this
church need those with the knowledge to open up so that we can help
each other heal. If your personal experience or studies have given you
any insight into these subjects, please share it with us! We’re also
looking to discuss the distribution of household work, the importance
of exercise to a mother’s mental well-being, body image, (especially
relating to post-pregnancy and aging), and anything else you think
might be relevant to the happiness of LDS women and their families.
You can email me at mail.for.ifrit@gmail.com, or if you’d like I can
send you a questionnaire, or interview you. Or you can discuss right
here!
Thank you so much for your time.
–ifrit