Ask a Feminist

Dear Ask a Feminist,

I just read the article in the Salt Lake City News titled “New Mormon-Feminist Group Lobbies LDS Church”. This is the first time I have heard of this group and still confused as to what you feel is unequal in the church?  The only thing mentioned in the article is having to do with baby changing stations and boy scouts getting more money?  These seem like trivial things and they are not really the core issue for you.  What are the real things you feel so unequal?  I read your blog and didn’t really find any issues just feelings of inequality.  I would really like to know what are THINGS that make you feel this way?  Is it that men lead the church?  Yes, they are the leaders but, who runs RS, primary and young womens?   I’ve had callings in all these and never once has there been a man telling us what to do!  As of late the Elders of the church have focused on women and our needs, how we should be treated and how much we are loved and appreciated.

A quote from the article: “The issues that we Mormon Feminists are so concerned about are the things that are making it so difficult for Mormon women to stay in the church,” Butterworth writes.    Please tell me what is so difficult? And, I feel you are trying to stir the pot and bring negative ideas about the church that do not exist.  I also feel you are walking a fine line with this movement (with no real grounds in my opinion).  You might NOT have to feel it hard to stay in the church if you are not careful (I would hate for it to come to that).  I feel you do have a testimony of the church, but have pondered on a few negative things that people have done to you, and not what the church has done to you.

Best regards,

Be Careful

Dear Be Careful,

I’m glad that you have had many callings in the church and “never once has there been a man telling [you] what to do.” What ward are you in? We’d like to join.

All joking aside, you ask some poignant questions. Mainly, what are the things that make me feel unequal. Here is a partial list for you below.

Remember that this is my answer and each woman you speak with will have different experiences. I love my church leaders and have faith in this gospel. Not all gender inequality in the church is tied to the priesthood and I think that 90% of it is unintended and, thus, it is important for us at LDS WAVE to makes our voices heard. You may find this list overwhelming and wonder why anyone who feels this way would stay a member of the church. Remember that I am deeply committed to the church and am trying to align my faith as a Latter-Day Saint with my deeply rooted spiritual sense of equality. Sadly, this paradox often causes me and many women that I know great pain and frustration.

I recognize that some of these issues are church wide, some local, and some unchangeable. Some of them are simple and some of them are deeply ingrained. All of them, nevertheless, make me feel unequal and are worth talking about.

I feel unequal when there are more (a lot more) men’s voices in religious texts, meetings, leadership positions, and decision making bodies.

I feel unequal when callings that don’t necessitate the priesthood are given only to men: Sunday School Presidency, BYU, BYU-I and BYU-Hawaii Presidents, Church Education Commissioners, Ward Mission Leaders, recommend takers at the Temple, etc. (Similarly, men are not currently called in Primary Presidencies and could be.)

I feel unequal when women doing the same job are called by different titles (i.e. Sister vs. President) and/or are accessories to rather than serving equally with their husbands, i.e. Mission President’s wives.

I feel unequal when I have a calling as an auxiliary leader and have to get approval of every decision by men and/or when I am not invited to attend Priesthood Executive Committee meetings (PEC) which directly influence my stewardships.

I feel unequal when my value is primarily linked to being a wife and mother rather than by being a child of God.

I feel unequal when the men in my life acknowledge that they have no female spiritual leaders in their wards or communities.

I feel unequal when women have less prominent, prestigious, and public roles in the church, even before and after childrearing years.

I feel unequal because even one of the most inherently female-dominated time periods, having a new baby, is publically displayed at church in an all male ritual of the baby blessing.

I feel unequal when males handle 100% of the church finances.

I feel unequal when I am taught at church that my husband presides in my family, he is the head, and all things being equal, he has the final say.

I feel unequal when people preach that men and women are completely equal and in the same breath say the above sentence.

I feel unequal when I realize that at church all men have the final say. Good leaders might consult with female auxiliary leaders, but ultimately even after being called to a position via inspiration, men still make the final decisions.

I feel unequal when cub scouts and boy scouts have a larger budget (they are allowed to do fundraising- although this might be a local issue) than achievement days and Young Womens and thus, they often have better activities.

I feel unequal when the Young Women and Young Men’s programs have such different manuals, budgets, activities, etc.

I feel unequal when fathers and mothers are encouraged to fulfill primary roles to provide and nurture, but only the fathers are given the freedom to seek out the best way for them to provide, whereas, mothers are told the best way for them to nurture—to be stay at home moms.

I feel unequal when men teach me that being a stay at home mother is the most important thing a person could do, and yet most of them do not do it.

I feel unequal when people do not emphasize fatherhood as much as they do motherhood and when we have numerous annual lessons on the priesthood and I’m not taught anything about the woman’s role as a priestess.

I feel unequal in primary when most of the lessons and songs are about men although most of the teachers and leaders are women.

I feel unequal because church disciplinary courts are made up of solely men and there are no female voices in the very sensitive matters of church discipline.

I feel unequal when women have to talk to men about their sins, especially sexual ones, and have no other church sanctioned options.

I feel unequal because most men, even inspired ones, can’t fully understand or provide enough resources for sexual abuse.

I feel unequal when young girls are taught about modesty and chastity from older men, especially because females make decisions about these things for very different reasons than males.

I feel unequal because many of the official church declarations and proclamations have no female input, regardless of how drastically they affect women.

I feel unequal when there are no checks and balances for females who experience abuse in the system. While abuse may be rare, it is terrifying that women have no resources to go to outside of the male hierarchy.

I feel unequal because the Relief Society’s autonomy was taken away and it became an auxillery presided over by men.

I feel unequal when women’s financial autonomy isn’t encouraged as much as men’s at church and/or church schools.

I feel unequal because men conduct, men preach, men speak.  Men teach us how to be women.

I feel unequal because local leaders rarely use gender inclusive language even though church manuals and General Conference talks try to do so.

I feel unequal when men speak at Relief Society and Young Women’s meetings, but women never speak in priesthood meetings.

I feel unequal when there are very few women’s voices in our official correlated church manuals.

I feel unequal when women don’t pray in General Conference and usually only give 2 or 3 of the many talks.

I feel unequal because men and women can be sealed to different numbers of people.

I feel unequal in the temple because women a have different script and role.

I feel unequal when female employees of the Church Educational System and temple ordinance workers are no longer allowed to keep their positions after they have children.

I feel unequal because we know very little about Heavenly Mother and her role in the Godhead and there doesn’t seem to be any emphasis on the part of our leaders to pray and find out more. I don’t know what my divine potential means as a female and that makes me feel less important.

I feel unequal because all of these concerns are mediated by male leaders and that they are only as important as these men deem them so. While most of our leaders are wonderful, there is very little in the structure or doctrine to prevent male leaders from misogyny or benevolent sexism.

I feel unequal when these gender inequalities are not acknowledged by leaders. It is difficult to be a female in a patriarchal church and we are trying our best to make it work. Acknowledgement of that difficulty would go a long way.

All of these reasons begs the following question: If women are really as equally valued as men why aren’t they given equal voice? That is what we are trying to do here at LDS WAVE.

We appreciate all of you who have contacted us and have heard from many women and men who do not see a problem with any of the above and/or do not feel unequal at all. We have also heard from many women and men who say they are uplifted, strengthened, and encouraged by knowing that they are not alone in their struggle and pain with these issues. Either way, please share with us how you have overcome some of these obstacles so that we might all learn from each other and be one in Christ.


Ask a Feminist


  1. thank you – as always!

    • It is unfortunate that there is so little information and scripture that refers to the role of a women which is what is what causes so much confusion within the church.

      Have you ever heard of Lilith. I first learned of Lilith in a religion class at BYU. Her story is mentioned in one of the books not published in the bible. Her name is also referenced several times in the current bible. She was the 1st wife of Adam. She was created at the same time as him. She was his equal. She was a bit if a feminist and wanted to be in charge. (The class I took was years ago so I don’t remember the story perfectly.) She left the garden and left Adam. The next day Eve was created. Eve was created from Adam’s rib. This is a symbol that represents how women compliment men. They are not equal. There is a great article that discusses women’s complimentary role:'s+wife+before+eve

      Even in the temple, women must be by their husband’s side. I seek to learn more about my role as women but realize that there are inequalities and their have been from the time of Adam. I hope this helps some of you.

    • kaye horton says:

      You belong to a Patriarchal church. You knew it before you joined it. If you didn’t…..then you were baptized without knowing the Doctrine. If you want to stay, forget the lobby. It won’t work! You will be denied a T. R., and next dis-fellowship, and if you continue…..excommunication. If you were born into the church, then it is drilled into your head about the Patriarchal Society. Remember, the Bishop can excommunicate a woman, it takes the entire High Counsel to Excommunicate a man. 1 = woman, 12 = man

      You will never change the church doctrine towards women.This church was set up by Jesus himself. Remember, you must behave, or you will never get to the celestial kingdom. Only a man can get there by himself. A woman, only if she is married to a worthy man. Give it up, or go find another church.

      • Actually men and women can both make it to the Celestial Kingdom on thier own but in order to obtainl the highest degree of glory, the one where we can create worlds and lives, we need eachother. Both men and women need to be sealed to a righteous spouse to reach that level. Those of us who are going alone will be ministering angels regardless of our gender.

        As for our divine potential as women- The Priesthood is the authority to act on behalf of our Father here on earth. Motherhood is the authority to act on behalf of our Mother here on earth. The big differece is that the Priesthood is granted only to righteous men (more or less) and motherhood is the right of all women regardless our how they choose to use that power.

  2. Maret Smith says:

    So many things on this list rang true with my experience. I am especially troubled by the number of callings that could be available to women but are always, by policy it seems, filled by men. I can somewhat understand (even if I disagree) with the notion that moms should not have extra burdens. However, active child-rearing is such a short portion of the LDS woman’s life, and some women are never able to have children anyway. Certainly these women should be allowed to serve as Sunday school president or, for that matter, Area Legal Counsel.

    I think the person who wrote the letter does make a good point that the mission statement is a bit fuzzy. It’s powerful, but I think it could benefit from more specifics. I wonder what the board does specifically in pursuit of this mission, and think it might be helpful for other visitors to know this information as well.

    Thank you so much for your work and for this beautifully articulate post.

  3. Many of your observations are right on. But soot-colored glasses only inspire a deep sense of aggrievement, and aggrievement leads inexorably to the exit door. This is not a foundation that will serve you well in the end. You are stronger than this; you should be leading out from a positive vision of the Church, not a negative vision. But perhaps you actually do not wish to succeed: in my experience, those who urge public collective action vis a vis the Brethren do so, in the end, to shame and embarrass the Church, and to be able to point the finger and say, “we tried to work with them, but they ignored us, so we are justified in leaving.”

    • Shari – It should be embarassing for you to others the way you are devaluing her own expierience. Take it as you wish, but in MY opinion it is wrong, manipulative and abusive for you to discount any individuals personal expeireince, which is what she was sharing above. She was not trying to coerce anyone to side with her, she was just explaining her feelings. I applaud her for what she wrote and look up to her strength. I wish every woman in the church could have this type of confidence and desire for equality with a courageous voice. I know of many women in the church too afraid to speak up and have no one to speak to other than dictating men. Sexism has been apart of the church from the begining and what she has shared is validating and comforting to women feeling alone and needing support with inequality issues that DO exist very abusivly within the church. Your threats based off of FEAR, or as you said embarassment/shame is wrong and stiffling to growth. We all have a very beautiful unique life journey that is our own and no one elses. It is destructive to encourage silence, and blind obiedience to those who are struggling to have a voice. I have worked in many behavioral science fields, I speak from expierience. Although you may disagree with her or me, telling her she will be embarassed and that her own feelings will not serve her well (….since when do we truly choose our emotional feeliings) is simply ignorant, disrespectful, and abusive. I hope you can have more tolerance and respect in the future regarding such issues that are the root of so much pain, and suffering for many women of the church in the future.

      • I think she raises a lot of good points. And I think we need to be able to say something- with love, with faith, with respect, and have our voice heard. What has she said here that is against church doctrine? Calling women to positions where they CAN be called? Having women pray at General conference? Are these thoughts so radical? I for one was overjoyed when they lowered the missionary age for women- was it against Christ’s gospel to do so? No. We want to be involved and respected in this church we love- not simply admired on a pedestal. Especially those of us who DON’T have children. I’m unmarried, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to play an active role in the church. Most feminists just want the opportunity to give more- is that a selfish desire?

  4. This list describes my experience of gender inequality in the church perfectly and I am comforted to know that this organization exists. I am always confused when I hear women state that they feel perfectly equal in the church, or that they think there is no need to reform policy to be more inclusive. This comprehensive, yet concise, list describes the undeniable differences in the way women and men experience the church and after reading this post, I feel that it is impossible to deny that there is inequality in the LDS church structure and culture.

    I can understand why some people would find this feminist forum threatening and how they would resist a movement that will inevitably challenge their understanding of the church- however, I do not personally feel that acknowledging these inequalities is dangerous… Contrarily, I feel it’s absolutely necessary. These concerns are legitimate and these feminist voices are representing more than just a few angry housewives. These voices are representing a new generation of LDS female, who aren’t comfortable with the patronizing perspective that by virtue of being a man, you are more qualified to contribute or make decisions in the church and household.

    I would like to add a point to the list. It has always bothered me that when doing baptisms for the dead, three priesthood leaders are required. I’ve never fully understood why a women can’t act as a recorder or be the one to watch and make sure immersion is achieved. Apparently being a man makes you more qualified to tick a box on a piece of paper or watch water.

    Once again, Thank you WAVE for representing this cause.

    • I guess I am still missing something…I’ve been thinking about “unity” and “patience” and “identity” lately. There are probably a lot of people in my life surprised that I don’t consider myself a feminist. I just wonder if there is a… place in Zion for such distinctions. And if I choose not to use the label “feminist” does that make me a “non-feminist?” Too often in the world, the polarization of social/political issues present us with two counterfeit choices. I hear and read labels such as “conservative mormon,” “liberal mormon,” and “mormon feminist” and I see the same wordly pattern of rivalry and division. Can I stand firmly outside an issue, without sitting on the proverbial fence? Don’t get me wrong I am not passive. Dissent is essential to progression. Dissent is essential to God’s Plan. But the Good News is often lost in the noise of controversy. We are here to prove faithful, not prove a point. Our biggest challenge in this life is learning to live as one people.

      I can see that the label unifies women that are like-minded. I love finding kindred spirits just as much as the next gal. But does this subvert the greater good? Can we accommodate subcultures within Zion? Do we have to align ourselves with the conformists or the non-conformists? Either way we are conforming. I digress right? Even Christianity was once considered a counterculture. I muddle through all this by asking myself what labels/titles we use for the Savior. If our goal is to be one with Him then we will become better friends, healers, teachers, counselors, advocates, mediators, liberators, and Christians.

      I am empowered by the divine origins of my spirit, and the potential I have as a daughter of God. If the roles I play here on Earth are inhibited by the agency of others, I have the promise that all our losses will be made up if we prove faithful. The only person that can impede my eternal progression is me.

      • Thank you for your comment, I whole heartedly agree that the only person that can impede my eternal progression is me. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. We are ultimately only responsible for ourselves. When we stand before our Lord to be judged, no one else will be there, it is between ourselves and Him. I have not had a perfect experience in the church, but I recognize that my brothers and sisters in the gospel are human and make mistakes just as I do. I am not married and do not have children and don’t necessarily have a burning desire to do either, I have never felt looked down upon because of this. Recently I experienced the loss of a loved one through suicide and I was also the one to find them, it was a very traumatic experience and initially my Bishop did not handle it well. I could have used some of his comments as an excuse to leave the church. Instead I went to him and discussed it with him, he apologized and thanked me for letting him know what he had done wrong. It was not his intent to offend me, he was simply shocked initially and didn’t know how to react. He is human, he made a mistake, we all do. He has since been loving and supportive and checks on me frequently. We need to remember that we will be judged according to how we have judged others. We need to remember that we all need help to get through this earthly test. We need to remember that when we raise our hand to sustain our leaders that we are agreeing to support them in their callings, this means all the time, even when they make mistakes! Most especially we need to remember that the Lord is the head of our church. Would I love to know more about our Heavenly Mother?! Of course, but I trust that the Lord will reveal that at the appropriate time and that if it were knowledge vital to my eternal welfare, He would reveal it. He wants us to return to Him more than anything, if not why would He have suffered, bled, and died for us? I would suggest that putting these issues in an eternal perspective would be beneficial if they are a stumbling block for you. Too often in life we get caught up in things that are not of eternal consequence, it is easy to do and I am certainly guilty of it! How will you feel about it (whatever issue or obstacle you face) when you stand before your Savior on the day of judgement? That is the guidance I use when determining if something is worth my time and effort.

  5. I posted this same comment on another website earlier today in response to a radio program highlighting the comeback of Mormon feminism. I am searching for clarity because I question using labels (ie Mormon feminist…) in order to qualify membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Why use such labels unless you want to set yourself apart? If that is the purpose, then it creates division amongst women of faith, and implies that such labels equal enlightenment. I believe the label has a certain elitist connotation that insinuates inferiority or quaintness of mind and spirit amongst those who would not designate themselves as such. Ironically, it belittles women by creating status within the sacred bonds of womanhood. Why can’t we take a stand on womens issues, and live what we believe without affiliating ourselves with a label that limits our sphere of influence and clouds issues behind a worldly cloak of societies expectations. Why not publish our feelings under our own name? Why congregate with a stereotype that overshadows our own independence? My name and identity is not the footnote to a collective blog. I am Amy. I came to earth as a daughter of God, and I have since chosen to take upon myself the name of Christ and His cause. If we truly live the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can become saviors on Mount Zion and no other label is necessary.

  6. I agree that labels can be divisive, but they can also offer comfort. I’m a psychologist and while I tend to not agree with many diagnostic models, I have found that providing a client with a framework within which to understand themselves is a very powerful tool for healing. Personally, when I found this site, I was comforted in knowing that I was not alone in my feelings of inequality in the church and that there were other women who shared my experience. The term ‘Mormom Feminist’ provided me with a new, and less threatening, way of understanding myself and my experience as a mormon women, and it dramatically reduced my feelings of allienation and frustration with the culture that I have struggled with. Labels can certainly be dangerous to those of which they do not apply- but I am will happily wear the stigma of being a Mormon Feminist, if it means I am not alone in my experience of the church.

  7. StarieNite says:

    “If women are really as equally valued as men why aren’t they given equal voice?”

    Thank you! This really resonated with me.

  8. I sympathize with the list you wrote. What you listed are practices/traditions. Humans are creatures of habit and sometimes this makes them not see that the way certain things are done miss the point and are outdated. It is relieving to know that the practice and traditions do not consist of the gospel. The gospel is completely something else and unfortunately, the actions of many members might not represent it well.

    However, I have noticed changes in the way things are done from up to bottom. Women now are giving talks in conferences and more international members are called to higher positions. This is very good. It doesn’t meet my entire expectations but I believe that it will in the future. Traditions and practices do change but they change slowly and it takes a while to meet the expectations of culture and times.

    However, I think that WAVE should stay away from the notion of “lobbying the LDS Church”. That will not get you anywhere despite of the noble goals you have. I don’t think the church is the kind of organization that responds well to outside pressure. My advice would be for WAVE, and any other organizations with similar goals, to cause the change from within….create a feeling of sisterhood in the RS and do not alienate the women that do not completely agree with you, organize RS to be more active in community projects, help the RS presidency organize activities that go beyond strengthening families and baking. Sooner or latter, activities like that will be noticed by the church leadership and they will realize that members have a wide variety of interests and ideas for the programs in the ward. My feeling is that the members wait passively most of the time from direction from above when they can also affect the top from the bottom. The church organization does have the channels to do so.

    Regarding gender equality in the church, my feeling is that the strongest enemies are the women than the men. I personally have found the men are more sensitive and receptive to my ideas. Recently, I think I have realized why. The push for having mothers participating in the labor market or going for graduate degrees threatens the ones that either did not want to do so or compromised such desires. Culturally, the church has always spoken of women with only one stereotype in mind. (This is also slowly changing). Therefore, it is important not to devalue any lifestyles of female members of the church and judge their choices but to create an environment of tolerance where people (and women) can co-exist in harmony with others who have made different choices and come from different backgrounds.

    • I agree with you, Sycka. The Church has historically not responded well to any kind of overt lobbying pressure, and much of the resistance will be among those women who did sacrifice to live according to the norms the church has taught for familial roles. I’m unsure what would help, but I think you’re on the right track with starting at the grassroots in some way. I caution, too, against acting as indignant accusers, since many (most) Church members have not thought about these issues in the ways outlined in Ask a Feminist’s list, above, and feeling attacked, they are unlikely to open up to the ideas. Those come gradually, peer to peer. That said, I think that a greater *awareness* from the top can do great things. Inasmuch as the “lobbying” the article cites is an educational campaign rather than a list of demands, I think it will bring about a gradual, steady response.

    • How great that these women bloggers moved us all to lobby for change, and aren’t we glad that nay sayers were wrong. Our leaders are not infallible. Are church is ever evolving thanks to on-going revelation brought on by people, men and women, who dare ask the important questions.

  9. awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. jasmin holzbauer

  10. @Ask a Feminist: “I feel unequal when women have less prominent, prestigious, and public roles in the church, even before and after childrearing years.”

    Whether you recognize it or not, this is directly derived from modern secular feminist thought. The inherent problem with modern feminism is that it has tacitly accepted the metrics of the traditional male-dominated society: power, fame, influence, money, prominence. What would the priorities of our society be if women set them? We don’t know, because the self-selected modern feminist leadership implicitly accepted the metrics and priorities as they found them rather than asking the deeper question of what should be most important to us.

    We have been shown a better way, however.

    “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

    “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

    “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

    The Lord does not value prominence, or power, or wealth, He values humility. What do we value?

    • PV,

      A common critique and one that many modern feminist take seriously. However, I would point out that there are real consequences to real people that come when power, status, influence and money are systematically in the hands of a single gender or group. It matters to peoples physical, emotional and spiritual well-being in important ways that we should care about. Some examples:

      Local and general church hierarchical power concentrated in the hands of men have made us very slow and err in many instances when responding the sexual, physical and emotional abuse. I don’t think it is fair to ask women to suffer these things and to be slow to redress them because the hierarchy has had a difficult time understanding things from the victims point of view. This has led us to systematically tell girls who have been date raped they need to repent, counciled many women to stay in abusive relationships, bishops and other leaders not recognizing abusive relationships, under-resourcing the training of leaders etc. Now we have made some progress, especially since Hinkley on these issues, but this is far, far later than organizations with more balanced gender voices. It has been an institutional failing for too long. So yes where power is distributed matters. Structural inequality makes countering cultural inequality much more difficult.

      Another very recent example. I led a project where we called almost every English speaking temple in the world (some were closed). In fully 30% of these temples there was an explicit policy were women who were menstruating were being excluded from doing baptisms for the dead. There is no physical, health or doctrinal reason for this. Do you think if temple presidents or even a significant number of the hierarchy involved were women that 1 in 3 temples would make this mistake? Now in the other 70%of temples the policies were great and very women sensitive and friendly. Why hadn’t this been noticed or corrected? 100,000 of women pass through these temples every year. They all have a temple matron. After we revealed our statistics (and we were very careful in gathering them) the COB reacted immediately to stop the practice. Here is an example of where simply raising an issue, giving it voice helped solve a very gendered and unnecessary problem. If we hadn’t taken the effort to do this how many more girls would have had to show up excited for their temple trip only to be told they couldn’t participate, when at the next temple over they would be welcomed to participate?

      Just two examples, but so many things on this list are examples that could be easily addressed, require no doctrinal changes (that is in WAVES governing principles) but simple changes. Power and resources matter for serving all of God’s children. If we truly believe that women have unique perspectives and talents why would we systematically exclude these? Do you think Jesus really wants us spending 3 times the monetary and human capital on the boys of the church than the girls? Just because their girls? I doubt it.

      I really honestly don’t think most men and priesthood holders in the church are power seeking or consciously looking to hold on to their status, resources and favors. I really don’t. I think they intend well but the signs of social dysfunction that just stem from having only men in control of all decision rights and resource allocation are just to clear, persistent an hurtful not to wonder how we can do better without increasing the role and voice of women. Shouldn’t we be leading this and not lagging woefully behind “the world”?

  11. brightblue says:

    I didn’t have a sense of gender inequality in the church most of my life. For example, it never occurred to me to wonder where the women in the scriptures were, I just identified with the prophets I liked, and never for a second considered the fact that they were male and I wasn’t and that might mean something. As a missionary, when I left a prayer of blessing or a petition for healing with someone, I assumed it held the same power as any priesthood blessing an Elder might utter. It didn’t occur to me that the power to bless or uplift or discern was power I didn’t have the same access to as did males, even if I didn’t hold an office. It didn’t occur to me that leaders had any right to revelation in my behalf except as a support to my own responsibility to seek knowledge and decide my own course of belief or action. My life was ultimately my own responsibility before God, just like everyone else. Gender just wasn’t part of the equation for me.

    Then came a surprising time in my life when I decided I wanted to learn more about church history, and a huge upset in my sense of identity as a child of God occurred. I started reading a lot of original discourses from early church leaders and was spiritually knocked flat by what I realized they believed about gender in the eternal scheme of things. I wasn’t surprised that anyone living in the 19th century (LDS or not) would hold beliefs about gender, race, class, and so forth, that we would no longer agree with – their culture was not particularly surprising. What did start to cut me was their clear belief that their (from my perspective, sexist) views on gender issues came from God in a direct sort of revelatory way. As if they had seen the heavens parted personally, and were describing the exact reality they saw there. Suddenly I realized that in their view (meaning, in original LDS theology), I wasn’t just a child of God like anyone else. I was female, and that mattered a lot. Exaltation, not just salvation, was their focus, and that carried a lot of implications about our distinct gender roles. Women were divinely, eternally defined in relation to men. Women’s entire worth seemed to lie in the role of wife and mother, being above all called to be a helpmeet to her husband and “bear the souls of men”. In marriage, a wife is literally given to her husband. She learns to submit to him, deferring to his righteous authority and allowing him to give council that she is obliged to follow. Wives become partakers in their husband’s exaltation and glory by being sealed to them (which was sort of a one-way ordinance). And there was no ambiguity in their teaching about what a man needed for exaltation – one woman was clearly not enough to bring about the fullest potential of a man – he needed as many devoted wives as he could get to expand his seed and kingdom and exaltation (though one shared husband was certainly enough for a woman, and any woman who felt otherwise needed to check her pride). Thus man supposedly became like God, presiding lovingly over his expansive kingdom of wives and children who in turn revered him with love, worship, and total obedience. All of this would have been understandable to me in its historical context – as a part of God’s dealing with all of us in the limited terms of our own cultural experience and immediate needs, reflecting his allowance for all mortals’ limited knowledge and choice, and as part of the continuous development of our collective knowledge – except that for the first time I consciously realized there were deep undercurrents in our contemporary religion that paid homage to these sexist views of eternity. Because of our respect for the authority and inspiration of our early leaders, many people still revered these teachings as the best place to look for a glimpse of eternal reality. Very little had ever been done to add to or modify these views other than to say “by the way, you aren’t a second class citizen! God loves women and blesses them too!” Which wouldn’t need to be pointed out repeatedly unless there was evidence that suggested otherwise. When I tentatively asked people what they thought, I was shocked to find a lot of thinking about gender that I had never noticed before, bubbling under the surface where I had never been fully aware of it. I didn’t know what to do with the contradictions starting to form in my mind. I was hurt and felt diminished, and I questioned a lot of things I had previously never thought to question. A woman I respected told me that I was being prideful, and that I was too possessive of my husband – that only when I learned to expand my capacity for love and embrace the eventuality of other wives in his life would I be able to progress. I actually wondered, then, if I was *really* enough for my husband, eternally, as he was for me – which devastated my sense of individual worth and emotional safety in my marriage more than any other experience I’ve ever had. And then, frankly, I started to feel like an insane person. Who else would have this sort of a demented battle in their own mind, trying to accept a sense of doom over the undesired “reward” that awaited faithful women (and the sense of injustice over the comparatively grand rewards for faithful men)? One thing I became sure of – no matter what the apparent contradictions were, I didn’t believe in the frightening or painful picture of God and his plan that all this was painting in my mind. I did not believe that 19th century Mormon life is the closest approximation we have of eternal life. And I absolutely still found the church to be a vital wellspring of goodness and insight in my life, had respect for my leaders at church, and respected the struggles and goodness in our spiritual predecessors, as long as I allowed myself to relate to it all through my personal sense of continuous truth-seeking and to rely on my independent experience with God rather than trying to internalize every confusing doctrine that may have been heartily believed at one time or another.

    Looking at what I just typed I realize that was probably TMI, and mind-numbingly long. I guess your post just resonated with a lot of my deepest struggles, which I rarely have a chance to voice in an honest way. So, thanks for sharing your experiences. Your list hits a tender place in me. And it makes me realize maybe I don’t have to feel so alone with my struggles.

    • Oh my, I loved your post and I read every word. I have had some of those same thoughts running through my head. I haven’t resolved them, and I just leave them in the back of my mind. I didn’t think much about gender equality until after my mission. I do remember in Young Women’s wishing I would be allowed to do some of the adventurous things I saw my brothers do. Looking back to my last mission area, I can see how much easier it was for the Elders to work with the leadership in our ward. I served Spanish-speaking, so I had the macho Hispanic culture in addition to the weaknesses apparent in church hierarchy complicating the work of Christ.
      The issues raised by Ask A Feminist deserve attention. These issues are hindering the work. Like you, brightblue, I long to know more about the nature of my eternal role as a woman. I long to know what it means to be a priestess and a queen. I wish I had more role models among LDS leaders of what a woman can become. I treasure the stories of Jesus’ interaction among women. I especially love what he taught in stories such as the woman taken in adultery, the woman with an issue of blood whom he healed, the woman at the well, and the raising of the daughter of Jairus. I would like to know their names.
      Because I do not find enough of those role models within the church, I look up to strong, valiant women wherever I find them. In this pursuit, I feel I am following the direction to seek out what is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” found in the 13th Article of Faith. I look up to Mother Teresa. I look up to my boss. I look up to my mom. I look up to Margaret Thatcher. I want to become a woman that a young girl can know and desire to emulate.

    • Dear Brightblue,
      I rarely ever comment on anything, but I felt like I might be able to share some light with you. I too have grown up in the church. I have never felt unequal in my gender; in fact I’ve always felt pretty special to be a girl, teenage girl, and now a woman. I have had my share of bad bishop experiences, all of which have led me closer to God and strengthened my testimony.

      I am commenting because I want to give you different glasses to look at some of our history through. The state of Utah was the first state to try and allow women to vote, the U.S. legislature would not allow Deseret to become a state, and Utah was also a free state. Being a female does matter a lot, but it should be empowering that you’re a female. The reason women are defined in relation to men is because God sees us as a partnership where neither is complete without the other. If you wonder about the importance of being a helpmeet take a look at any single guy you know, they are some of the most helpless people I know. Without women in their lives they have no direction. In regards to the sealing ceremony, a wife literally gives HERSELF, she is not given, but chooses to give herself, the woman has equal power in this covenant. The woman is not given away by her father like in regular ceremonies, but in the Mormon faith she gives HERSELF. I do follow my husband as he follows the Lord, but my husband weighs my opinions and input with twice the weight that he gives his own.

      About polygamy, in your study of history I’m surprised you never came across the fact that the only way a man could receive a second wife was with the permission of his first wife. Men do need to be married for exaltation, but in the case of polygamy it was a service for women. Because men were scarce when the saints traveled to Utah, it was important to God that no woman would be denied the chance for exaltation because of a scarcity of men. I WILL need to check my pride in the afterlife, because I’m a possessive woman and, as the first wife, I would have an impossible time allowing other women to marry my husband. I’m grateful the practice of polygamy has ended. But, I assure you that God loves women more, if it’s possible, than men. I wish you had a stronger woman in your life who could have explained that you are more than enough for your husband and that he’s probably luck to have you! I urge you to go back through the history of the church and pay special attention to the KEY roles womanhood played in its restoration, thus making it possible.

      The writer of the post said, “I feel unequal because we know very little about Heavenly Mother and her role in the Godhead and there doesn’t seem to be any emphasis on the part of our leaders to pray and find out more. I don’t know what my divine potential means as a female and that makes me feel less important.” I wish she’d said, “I wish we knew more about our Heavenly Mother so I could have better insights into the way I should pattern my life. But I understand God loves our Heavenly Mother perfectly and could never stand by and watch her name abused as his own is. That makes me feel more empowered and important in the divine and sacred roles women play.” That’s how I feel about being a woman – the roles I play just as hard and grand as those of my husband. My husband recognizes that too. I hope you can find relief from your worries, knowing that you are special, powerful, and that God loves you perfectly.

  12. Okay, So I just have to say this resonated. All the comments are very interesting. I truly believe that we need to do both though. We need to educate our leaders on the top, and we need a grass roots movement from the bottom. We can not have any desire of change and reconciliation in this church if we do not do both.

    Yes, educate our leaders on every level the feelings and problems you face in your daily lives. I must say I was much like bright blue, I didn’t question for most of my life. Then I just happened along Feminist Mormon Housewives (directly from a Modern Political Theory class I took in school, BYU-Idaho), and I found that I had the same questions, that it resonated with me. I didn’t at first want to accept the feminist title, with all that controversy that surrounded it. But I finally did. Mormon feminist describes me fully.

    I sincerely believe that this isn’t soot colored classes we are wearing. No, it is not. We are actually trying to wipe off the soot off our glasses, and we are trying to understand what is true equality in the Church.

    For those who feel perfectly equal, they can, but then there is this great possibility what we have is near equal, and near equal is in no way equal.

    I definitely can see the few areas in which we have changed. But there are these little bits of culture left, in which we still have to change. No, not all is well in Zion.

    Let us do everything we can to change this, in anyway we feel comfortable. Both for the education of our leaders, Men and Women, to the starting of grassroots efforts.

    • I’m sorry, did you just say “we need to educate our leaders on the top”?! Oh dear. Maybe I’m naive, but that comment made me dizzy. The only education I want our leaders on the top to have is from God himself. And our church has a direct line of authority that indeed comes from our Heavenly Father. I am BEYOND grateful for that direct line of authority, and I have faith in it.

  13. Two of your statements “I feel unequal when the Young Women and Young Men’s programs have such different manuals, budgets, activities, etc,” and “I feel unequal when young girls are taught about modesty and chastity from older men, especially because females make decisions about these things for very different reasons than males,” seem like such a paradox to me. Because of that, I struggle to come up with a solution that will satisfy both of these at the same time. If I make the same exact manual for young men and young women, I still have older men teaching young women about principles of modesty and chastity, since there would of course be equal input from males and females in this manual, and the same lesson for both males and females, to satisfy the set bounds of equality. There would necessarily have to be male input since you are not just addressing females, but “they make decisions about these things for very different reasons,” and therefore that concerns you. If I make separate manuals for ym and yw, so that older men are not teaching yw about chastity and modesty, I am unable to address the your feelings of inequality concerning having different manuals and lessons. If a feminist feels there ARE certain lessons that SHOULD be different based on gender, how does one determine that? What would be the standards—who should decide that and why? What is an acceptable standard of inequality to allow them to be taught differently, and why? Do you see my dilemma? I must admit, the feminist movement on all levels confuses me as the inconsistencies of what you claim to want leave me going in circles trying to come up with solutions. This was just one of several inconsistencies in your list. Perhaps it would help if you were more solution focused rather than grievance focused, and could therefore recognize or at least work on resolving those inconsistencies before expecting the rest of us to.

  14. suescannon says:

    What’s true for the world is true for the church. Follow the money. Who has power over that? Since men and women do not equally share deciding what happens to the money, we are not equal.

  15. If you ever feel unequal I have some advice, move to a Branch :). I say that with love and honesty. I never felt more valued and respected as a woman, as an EQUAL until I moved from my huge ward in Utah to a Branch in Arkansas. I can literally check every box that has to do on the ward/branch/unit level. I am a mother of four young boys, and I serve as a Primary President. I am referred to as “President”. I don’t ask for permission or forgiveness about the decisions we, my presidency makes for the children we are called to serve. Nearly ALL of the mothers in my Branch work outside the home and NO ONE blinks. Men are encouraged to counsel WITH their wives and come to a decision TOGETHER about the best interest of home and family.
    Sigh, the more I type this out the more I realize how lucky I am! Thanks WAVE for helping me see how great I actually have it. Yes! A Branch is hard work, but I would happily serve in these conditions for a lifetime :)

  16. Thanks BRIGHTBLUE for your novel, I lived it. And MINDY. You both gave me a lot of hope.

  17. There is a lot of “I feel” in your artical and not a lot of fact. If you “feel” a certain way, maybe you should look within yourself rather than blame and try and change the church.

    • Thanks Mike, for reminding me why I am so thrilled to read the other responses here. What I feel is what I am and when you ignore what I feel, you ignore who I am. Thanks to others who are willing to share their feelings.

  18. Wow I’m glad I’m not alone in struggling with trying to negotiate feminist beliefs with what the church teaches. Thanks for this cool blog :).

  19. Kate Mitchell says:

    If you have a problem with the way the church is run, shouldn’t you turn to the Lord in prayer? If it’s true, which I believe it is, then no lobbying is needed. If it’s not true, well, that’s a whole other can of worms.

    • Seriously Kate? You really can’t think of any policies or practices in church history that were based on antiquated thinking or traditions? No segments of the population that weren’t being given fair and equal treatment or opportunities?

  20. It doesn’t seem like any of you understand your divine worth. Men and women are all equal as children of God, we just hold different responsibilities. Men hold the priesthood to bless and pass the sacrament, preside, give blessings, and other duties–women hold the priesthood too, just in a different way. If you understood what the priesthood is, you would know that. The priesthood is the power of God on earth. How can you say that women don’t hold the power of God when women are the only ones who have the physical capacity and ability to carry and bear children? Isn’t procreation a Godly power? Women have the faith to move mountains without the extra help of the Aaronic or Melchizedeck priesthood–Men need that extra boost, as we learn in the scriptures. If you truly studied the scriptures with faith and prayer, you would understand that too. God loves women and men equally and I’m shocked that any of you, especially those of you who have been through the temple, can say these things. There are some major misunderstandings going on. If you genuinely want to feel at peace regarding these topics, pray about them and read the scriptures!

  21. Anna-Karin Smith says:

    Thank you for this list — it made me weep. I have a tremendously supportive husband and he worries about our two daughters growing up in the LDS church for the same reasons I do. Thank you for giving voice to this, and not succumbing to the rabid, foaming rhetoric I hear in too many places. Thank you again.

  22. I feel unequal because Jesus is a man not a women.

    I feel unequal because God didn’t send his only begotten daughter to pay for the sins of man.

    I feel unequal because we are taught to take care of widows.

    I feel unequal because I don’t have a penis.

    How ridiculous does this sound? We are not unequal. We are only different.

    • You misread LDS Feminism if you think their aim is for women to be just like men. There are wonderful differences between men and women. However, we would be wrong to take the innate differences between male and female and construe that into a church code that prohibits men and women from contributing in all the ways that they are able to.

      If men and women are equal in the church, then why not have women also give prayers in general conference? Is there something about prayer in general conference that only a man is capable of, or only allowed in church doctrine?

      Why can’t a women be Sunday School President? Why not assign a highly qualified woman as a BYU President? If men and women are already so equal in the church, then why are we not allowing women to hold callings that are not required in our doctrine to be filled only by priesthood holders?

    • Does your definition of “different” mean “having less voice/less opportunity”? I hope not. The near-invisibility of women in our structures and manuals really bother me, especially with the silence surrounding Heavenly Mother. What does that say about my eternal role as a woman? These suggestions are not suggesting any doctrinal changes, just policy changes that will benefit all by giving equal resources and voices to both genders.

      I was taught that God is no respecter of persons; that all are alike unto Him and Her.

    • I find the idea of a female savior very powerful and am offended by your mocking tone of superiority. Please
      consider that others don’t see things the way you do,

  23. Thank you for this post, it echoes many of the things in my heart as well. For you sisters that see no problem with women in the church, truly I am glad for you. I hope you teach your daughters and your sons to be good, strong people. But I invite you to listen to others and their concerns with an open heart and an open mind because the concerns are real.
    I was baptized when I was 27 years old. I converted because the truth of the gospel, because I gained a testimony. I knew 3 people in the church. Less than two weeks after baptism I, bright eyed and bushy tailed, was called into my bishops office where he told me I needed to hurry up and get married because I was getting “long in the tooth.” a couple years later, when I was seeking an interview for my endowments I was told by another bishop “you know this is not going to make you a more appealing marriage prospect.” I have been told I am over educated, and thus less desirable, I am too independent and thus less desirable, that I should act helpless. I always thought as a strong, hardworking, innovative daughter of God that I was a great tool to Him, and for years I shook it off.
    And then it weighed on me. Heavily and mightily. I just left a ward where it was emphasized that I am less because I am unmarried, because I have no children, because I have no “prospects.” yes, I, who believes in one persons ability to change the world, was told I have no prospects. I knew Heavenly Fathers love for me every minute of every day… Until I walked through the doors of the church. I have heard this echoed by SO MANY of my single brothers and sisters, where because we were over 30 and unmarried we were referred to as a service project. I have heard this echoed by my best friend, who is gay but still attends church regularly.
    I know the church teaches inclusion and Christ like love. That is not the issue. The issue comes in practice when we are exclusionary. Yes, sexism exists. Racism exists. We all need to recognize it and see it for what it is and appreciate people for their merits rather than what we think they cannot offer us because of gender, marital status, sexual preference, number of children, etc.

  24. I haven’t been to church in such a long time due to the issues raised here and others. I really wish I knew there were other women in the church who had these problems before I left my last meeting. I might not go back to the church, but I am so glad there are women who see this and can support others who want to participate in the church without feeling this pressure. Thank you for speaking up!

  25. There are many mysteries of God. I am no theologian, but I am a male Mormon. Let’s ask this, why are there so many more women than men active in the Church? Why do they (women) seem to be more spiritual? Ever think that the men “need” the Priesthood (which they do)? What do our Church Leaders say about activating the less-actives? Give them a calling? Men are the same way. I’ve found that everything in life has pros and cons, you have identified many cons.

  26. I read through your entire reply to the initial email and would suggest a large majority of your list is local perspective, local culture, because I’ve been in several wards and stakes in several countries that have men as Primary Presidents, women as Sunday School presidents so your comment that currently this is not happening is simply false. We refer to anyone with the calling of a president as President whether men or women. And as hard as it may be for you to stomach, having a baby is not all about the woman…..the man has just as significant a roll as the woman so yes indeed they should bless the baby, it does not need to be held during Sacrament or in any public display, that is the choice of the parents. The father, as the Priesthood holder, is indeed the head of the house but know where in doctrine has it ever been stated that he has the final say, all doctrine from the days of Our first parents has stated marriage is an equal partnership. Equal. Now, if your household has inequality, you should change it but do not judge the behaviour of other families or your own as proof the church does not support equality because this is Christs church and he absolutely is equal on everything. Do not confuse culture and human tradition with the doctrines of Christ. Are you a temple worker? Perhaps then you would know why men guard the entrance to the temple however you seem to have missed that there is always a woman at the entrance too and always a woman in the celestial room……not a man. You seem to have missed the point. May I suggest you take the same questions you list here (all valid to ask) to the Lord, ask him, he will answer.

  27. Good post, I read the whole thing, but the comments were tl;dr, so I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but I never, ever felt that the wives of my two mission presidents were only accesories. They were just as involved and dedicated as their husbands were. When my second mission president came, we would even have interviews with his wife just like him.

  28. This may have already been referenced, but everyone should read this article – I LOVED THAT ARTICLE! I will certainly take CJane’s attitude with me to church this “wear your pants to church” Sunday. When I heard about that movement, I wasn’t sure what to think. I am not fully educated in LDS Feminism.
    After I read these reasons for feeling unequal, I was taken back.
    I don’t want to take away from the spirit of the article by CJane. But it saddened me that not everyone who supports this movement would agree with the reasons she outlined for its existence.
    It seems to me that this movement is not wholly a stand to ask for understanding, compassion, and discussion, but regardless they would certainly deserve it and I do and will readily give it. That is only the purpose for SOME people.
    It seems to me the movement was started and is more of a collective attempt to quietly demand change. To claim that men should not have as much power and prominence in the church as they do; When, isn’t it Heavenly Father who holds that power, and passes it on through His priesthood and motherhood here on earth? He is, after all, the head of the Church, right? And it is HE who makes those decisions regarding His church, His laws, and His people, through our beloved prophet on earth?
    There are inherited, important differences in men and women to bring about God’s eternal plan of happiness. Isn’t this why we were given the proclamation to the family? To define our roles as men and women and embrace them?
    I love the quote that, “the scriptures have taught us that the Lord does not value prominence, or power, or wealth, He values humility.” It has me thinking.. what do I value? I value love, and I deeply respect my husband and family and friends and church leaders who hold and honor and use their priesthood for good. And I hold my role as a woman and mother in Zion sacred and full of great worth and value. I feel blessed to have this way of thinking and hope I can put my arms around the women in my life who may be struggling with this, and influence their hearts and minds towards this peace as well.

  29. I think something the responder has over looked is that this church is not the church of men and women, it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Maybe there are discussions and meetings amongst organizations, but the final decision should always come from revelation from Jesus Christ, the real head of our church. If you honestly think the head of our church doesn’t love and value all of us equally, you don’t understand Him enough yet. I am not suggesting that I have superior faith and knowledge, only that we, as imperfect beings, do not always see His hand in our lives. I include myself in the group of people who often fail to understand His love for us.

    Jesus Christ is male, but he loves and understands His sisters. I don’t think women are treated as less than. I don’t think the church tells mothers to stay at home, I think they tell them to love and teach their children. RS Presidents attend ward council meetings, women preach from the pulpit every Sunday, and women take part in the priesthood through the Temple. Remember that men and women were meant to work together in all things being equal partners. Partnerships don’t work if the two have all the same responsibilities and skills, they have to complement each other.

    Most importantly, “No one can make you feel inferior without your own consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

  30. I am a proud Mormon Feminist and have been for a while. I am a 26-year old wife, soon to be mother, and Graduate student. I too have felt many of these inequalities. To understand them and seek out answers, I went straight to the Doctrines of the Church. To be honest 1/3, if not half of the above issues could be cleared up by simply studying the doctrine.

    I actually published a piece that addresses 10 points of inequality, and most of these points are also in this blog. I’d like to share the link to my piece. I hope it will help people realize that many (but perhaps not all) of these feelings of inequality can be dealt with by truly studying, pondering and praying over the Doctrine.

    To go to link:

    Another great resource is the most excellent book, “Women in Eternity, Women of Zion.” It addresses all the issues such as feminism, Priesthood, polygamy, etc. from an LDS perspective.

  31. Women are far more interested in spiritual matters than men. They are more interested in having a church in a community than men are. The smartest thing women have done is to say, ‘We can’t run the Church . . . men have to do that.’ The day that stops is the day men start moving toward other things like a boat in the middle of a lake on Sunday morning. Don’t do it. Be smart. We already have to have the babies and nurse them (that’s not going to change) and supply all the food for food events, which makes that early Sunday meeting very, very inconvenient. If you want to put grandmas in as bishops, ok, but I suggest you let the grandmas help the young women with the babies, instead. Believe me, I’ve been there . . . . watched my husband take off for those meetings, for a job every day . . . been left behind with the babies. It has a downside, I guess, but as I was the bearer of children and the nurser of them (and wanted it that way) it worked better than trading him places.

  32. Amen, and Amen.

  33. Thank you for your honestly! I was baptized and took my
    Kids through baptism. I started asking these q
    Questions very early on and was told
    ” milk before meat”. I tried to keep An open mind
    But could never reconcile that in the rest of Canada
    This would negate my human rights
    And the bible was clear to live by the laws of the
    Land. I was told I lost my testimony. That seems
    In my opinion to be the chastising they use to keep
    People who are struggling in line. Knowing I was
    Raising sons and daughters I wanted them to
    Actually be equal and so I ended up leaving the
    Church over this very issue.

  34. I think it is important to ponder the Lord’s way of doing things rather than studying what it is that bothers us. I feel these feelings would be overcome with greater understanding, which we can receive through prayer or pondering in the temple.

    I personally do not feel that men and women are unequal in any way in the church. I do not feel that men holding the priesthood inherently causes inequality (though some men use it as an excuse to behave wrongly, inherently against the charge they’ve been given and deprives them of any power they once had).

    God has power that I think can be understood by dividing it into two categories. First the power to create by the power of His word — how the world was created (i.e. Gen. 1:3 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”) — or the Priesthood power which He has imparted to worthy men. Second the power to create life, which He has imparted to all women. When man and woman, each having received a portion of God’s power, are joined in a sealed marriage, together they gain the potential to become like God, or gain eternal life.

    We know that God’s “work and glory” is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Immortality refers to length, which all of mankind will receive, but more importantly eternal life refers to the TYPE and QUALITY of life God himself enjoys. This is the very happiest state of being and it includes an eternal family.

    The Gospel is the path God has laid out for us to follow to receive eternal life, which is enabled by His Atoning Sacrifice. The Priesthood is the power by which essential ordinances are performed. Worthy Priesthood holders do us a great service in administering these ordinances for us.

    On another thought, I think it is important to remember that man and woman were not created to fulfill the same role, and choosing to feel degraded because we are not fulfilling the measure of someone else’s creation is silly. My mom says, “it’s like the job chart says ‘Man: load the dishwasher. Woman: sweep the floor.’ And I’m going to be upset that I don’t have to load the dishwasher?” All of God’s creations can have joy in fulfilling the measure of their own creation. I know that I have joy when I am where I know God wants me to be and doing what it is I know God wants me to do.

    Disclaimer: This is only my current understanding, listen to the church leaders.

  35. Thank you for articulating so beautifully what I have felt over the years as a member of the church. It was perfect!

  36. I realize that I am coming late to the party on this article, however, recent events to this posting have caused me to do some further research. I don’t wish to demean the feelings of the author of this page, but some of the assertions are simply without foundation. Men having 100% authority over the finances, boy scouts getting more money, etc. Many of these are, at best, discolorations of how things really are and have been for sometime. Relief Society, the Largest Women’s society in the world and part of the LDS Faith, has a much larger budget than any of the other auxiliaries combined. Additionally, the Relief Society president is the person that gives approval on food supplies and many other forms of charitable contributions and support. As a past Young Men’s president, I know that the scouts don’t get much money at all, hence the need for constant fundraising. I won’t go down the list one by one, but many, not all, of your points are simply in need of a paradigm correction.

  37. I feel unequal when I am forced to attend a ward where the traditional roles are promoted and they are not apart of my life.

    I feel unequal when it is taught that I as a women do not have the same right to use the Universal powers of Heaven to heal myself and that I have to rely on a male priesthood leader to do it for me. When every child of God has the right to call upon and use those powers regardless of gender. I do it all the time.

  38. I truly do sympathize with the way you are feeling, and several of your points were insightful and lead to questions of my own. However, some points were a little confusing. You are probably much older and wiser than I am (I am only in my early 20’s), but I had the wonderful opportunity of entering the Temple before I got married several months ago. Your temple comment, about how it is unfair that we do not share the same role as men in the Temple, pretty much astounds me. How can you be upset about the different roles that men and women hold in God’s kingdom? Just because we are different, does not mean we are of lesser value. Those roles are divine and beautiful, serving a wonderful purpose for the eternities. In fact, I have felt nothing but love and adoration for women from the Savior and our Heavenly Father in the scriptures as I have read and studied them.
    Similarly, it seems as though many women (you included) are very upset about being linked to the phrase ‘wife and mother.’ Personally, I find no greater and nobler role. What is more sacred than being a wife and a mother? Frankly, I feel blessed to have the role of bearing and raising children, as well as serving alongside my husband in whatever is asked of us. I have never once heard anyone in the Church say that men should get the final say in family matters; in fact, I have heard the complete opposite. The father and the mother work together in a home to create both unity and love. Work together. The Family, A Proclamation to the World states: “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
    Lastly, whenever we have a baby blessing in our ward, my Bishop always announces the mother’s name and has her stand up for all to see. It is a sweet and kind gesture, and you are correct in that having a baby is a female-dominated time when we carried these beautiful spirits for 9 months. How beautiful is it, however, that we are able to see those little spirits blessed into the Church by either their father or another male figure in their life. I do not resent the fact that my future children will be blessed by my husband in front of the congregation, but instead, I feel extremely blessed.
    Ultimately, I feel badly that you have had experiences that have made you feel unequal or unheard. Unfortunately, those are the errors of men, and not of this divine Gospel. I truly hope that these matters will be settled in your mind and that you will find loving women and men that will help you to find what you are searching for. In the mean time, search the scriptures and pray to our loving Heavenly Father, and there you will find peace.

  39. Hello, I found your site cause I am still friends with members of the church. A little about me: I was converted and sealed and then asked to have my records removed… Everything you wrote has been discussed behind closed doors with my friends and I while I was a member. We also had additional questions such as: if I execute the priesthood by having children what is wrong with me if I can’t find a husband or am biologically unable to reproduce? Do I still have any worth? I commend you for taking these private concerns public so that we know we are not alone.
    Shortly after I got married and sealed in college we were told in GC that women should put off school in order to have children. My relationship with my husband became abusive and I talked to church leaders about it… They told me they would talk to him… Well whatever they said didn’t make it change and I divorced him. He is still a member in good standing. I worry what type of influence this will have input son and how he will grow up to treat women in the future.
    I do not know if what the lds church teaches is the full truth but what I do know is that God loves me and gave me these feelings, passions, and thoughts for a reason.
    Now after a few years I have discovered that I was not blessed with the desire and heart to be a stay at home mom- something that I always thought was wrong with me cause I wasn’t cheerful about it. I am able to appreciate and more effectively use the time I am home with my kids because I miss them while at work. This helps me to be a better mom and appreciate them more.
    Now I have two boys and am living with my boyfriend (the father of the second) for two and a half years now. (Don’t worry I already know I’m going to he’ll :) but at least I’m enjoying the ride) anyways we do things differently in our relationship. We both work outside the home. Him two jobs (one teaching) and me one (although I make more money currently). I take care if the house cleaning and he takes care of cooking and cleaning the kitchen. We do not have a shared bank account and split bills this works well for is cause I am good at Saving money and he is not. He pays for the house and the cost of living in it. I pay for daycare and clothes for the kids. We alternate on food and I pay my student loans from college. We take care if the kids together and try to support each other.
    I am not saying that this is what everyone should do I am just saying what works for us. It is amazing how much more I feel loved and cared for by God because of my relationship which I think is how it is supposed to work. My job on this earth is to be the best me I can be and to recognize who that is with my strengths an weaknesses and not try to become someone else. If I was supposed to be someone else God would have given me those desires. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis really takes this point home about how desires are from God and not evil of themselves.
    There is nothing wrong with wanting more equality and theses nothing wrong with wanting to be a mom or anything else. I hope the church will encourage its daughters to be who God designed them to be, whoever that is and not dictate what that looks like…. Just felt compelled to share sorry for the long post… – X

  40. Why do we always tend to worry only about ourselves? After serving in the church, I’ve learned that it’s a whole lot of work!! A whole lot of work that I don’t mind not doing if it’s not my calling! In that calling, I always felt valued and appreciated. Part of the priesthood means presiding. It is part of the gospel. The men in the church do a lot of service and this post sounds extremely ungrateful for all that they do.
    We have different roles in life, why should that matter so much? It is a fact that men cannot have children, regardless of whether or not they think that’s fair. Should women be angry that they have the role of nurturing others? Or of the fact that it is the role of men to hold the priesthood? I don’t think so. Physically men and women are different and spiritually we are different. We will never hold the priesthood so we all might as well come to terms with that.
    Be grateful for the good men we have in the church, who strive to take care of their families and help others, and who aren’t perfect and who give a whole lot of hard work and service.

  41. Heidi McLain says:

    It makes me sad that so many sisters feel this way. I have always felt loved, appreciated and valued as a sister in the gospel of Jesus Christ and do not feel underutilized nor as a second class citizen. Personally I have served in wards where there have been women Sunday School Presidents. I have served as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher, have taught in Priesthood Classes, taught in Primary, served as a Full Time Missionary and Stake Missionary. I have sat in on Ward and Stake Councils where input and ideas and decisions have been implemented based on the collaboration with the Sisters in the ward.

    I feel it is sexist to say that a man has nothing of value to say to sisters in Relief Society. Every time I have heard a guest speaker whether it be a member of the Bishopbric or another brother, their comments have always been of great admiration and love for the sisters and one of encouragement. It is also sexist to say that a man shouldn’t be speaking to women or young women about dressing modestly. In a world where pornography is a growing addiction that is objectifying women and tearing marriage and relationships apart (such as in my first marriage), who better to tell the sisters of the church of how their words and dress affect a man, than a man?

    In reference to a man sitting at the front door of the temple, personally I feel comforted by this. There have been many instances where a confrontational individual has approached the front desk. Do you honestly believe our loving Heavenly Father would knowingly and willingly throw one of his daughters intentionally in harms way? This is an act of love and kindness to us and not one of discrimination.

    The same holds true for the accounting process at a ward level. I happen to know at the Church Headquarters there are women accountants working for the Church. At a ward level, generally speaking, the women are the ones who get their children dressed and fed before church, walk the halls and insure everyone’s attendance in the proper class at church, and then typically are the ones who go home and put the children down for their naps and/make lunch or dinner, etc. Were these women to stay after church another two hours to count tithes, make a deposit, wait for interviews with the Bishop to be completed, it would be more time taken away from their family ESPECIALLY if the woman works during the week and ALREADY has limited time with her family. Not every woman in the church is a stay at home mom, and the brethren of the church understand this and are willing to share the responsibilities of the work at church. So why are we trying to rob them from sharing the burden?

    When I go to the temple, I make the same promises and covenants that my male counterparts do. When I pray, I am entitled to the same revelations my counterparts are. There is not one blessing a man has in the gospel that I don’t have. And honestly, in addition to working full time, having children, having a husband, trying to stay physically, emotionally, and intellectually fit as an individual I appreciate having the support of the brethren in the church who are willing to do their part.

    In regards to a Heavenly Mother. Yes we have one. One that the almighty God does not want defamed, harassed, or spoken ill of. She is loved and protected by him. If you want to feel close to her all you have to do is pray and ask to feel her close. It also stands to reason if you truly understand what the gospel is about that God the Father could not become God the Father alone and our Heavenly Mother is a Goddess in her own right. And we can become like her by following the outline the Lord has given us without dragging her name through the mud.

    When it comes to disciplinary council, I am glad I am not a part of that. I personally don’t want to hear about a man cheating on his wife, or beating his children, or molesting his children. This again is the way the Lord protects us from the ugly things our already tender hearts don’t need to hear. Also, they will be held accountable to God for how they managed these councils. It is not a blessing for them to have to be a judge in Israel and the Lord God feels we already have enough on our plates. In fact, because they do this service for us we have MORE time to develop our own relationships with God and use our time more wisely and effectively.

    Please sisters, think about what you are saying. I am so grateful for the organization of the church and for the loving protecting hand in which our Savior leads it. – Sister Heidi McLain, Dallas, TX

  42. And I feel unequal when I go to tithing settlement and “we” receive a summary for tithes paid for in the year in my husband’s name only (when in actuality, 75% of our tithing comes from my income). Even my six-year-olds receive statements in their names. How and when did I disappear?

    • As a former ward financial clerk, I believe that you have every right to have your name included on the tithing slip. You can also right your own tithing check and pay in your own name if you wish. There is no rule that says husband and wife have to pay jointly or that it needs to be paid in the males name for a family.

    • Haha! My husband is probably feeling pretty left out right now. His name hasn’t shown up on the tithing slip for a couple of years now simply because I’m the one doing the bank transfers (we pay directly to SLC).

      My husband and I work full-time, have two young children, and I’m RS president and am barely doing the minimum required for the calling. I have zero time to make cutesy handouts (though I love getting them in general), and I’m in a ward outside the U.S. that has struggled with activity because of a host of issues (some cultural, some situational). I feel completely valued as a woman in our ward and I am perfectly happy to be able to just provide input to the Bishop (who solicits it on every decision that would affect RS) and let him deal with the mental gymnastics of making the decision. I don’t want the priesthood.

      But the OP wasn’t about wanting the priesthood. I feel like at least half of the items on her list resonated with me and they can and should be easily solved without the priesthood even being an issue. I was in a large singles’ ward in Virginia that had female secretaries/appointment makers for the bishopric counselors. They managed appointments, etc. for them and it worked out really well (well, until some miscommunication happened and I was called to a calling from the pulpit–and I opposed my own calling in a very surreal moment –try doing that sometime. That’s another story for another day. Well, okay, since you asked–I was called as a FHE leader but that was the first time I’d heard about the calling. I had already spoken with one counselor about how I had a regional calling as the publicity coordinator at the Visitor’s Center. A different counselor thought I had already had an interview with that first counselor. Anyway, it was a big mixup and one that was quickly fixed.)

      I think there will be many things that bother many people that likely will never change (women holding the priesthood being the main one) and there will always be women who take major issue with it and will leave the Church over it. But as the OP said, there are so many little things that can and should change. Another commenter suggested making some of these changes from the bottom up. I like that. As RS president, I’m pushing back during ward council and rejecting the idea that the food at every activity needs to be provided by the women. In my previous ward, my husband and I were in charge of the Christmas party (activities committee co-chairs) and I passed out sign-up sheets to every organization that was meeting during the third hour. I asked the men to sign up for things and that if they did, it meant -they- were going to do it and not just sign up their wives. I gave recipes for homemade rolls. The party was a tremendous success and we had double the expected attendance. Men were coming up to me so proud that they had made their first set of rolls from scratch. Others who weren’t married were excited to be asked to contribute.

      I love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I attend church and the temple regularly. I know that we do have the fulness of the restored gospel. I also recognize that many things that are done in the Church have been done out of habit, practice, etc., regardless of some revelatory doctrine.

  43. Here, here! Brilliant post. It’s utterly insane that there are still folks out there who can’t seem to grasp the obvious patriachy and inequality in the lds church.

  44. I can identify with most of these ideas and feelings, Yet, when I voice them I am shamed for questioning. It’s nice to know I am not alone in my beliefs about womens roles in our church.

  45. Check your facts: Ward mission leader is a priesthood calling.

    This aside, you make many valid points, but there is so much negativity in your drawn out statement, the good points get lost. Be more direct, and instead of criticizing, talk about the benefits of having a woman in the calling/role in discussion.

    I am not opposed to the discussion of cultural gender equality in the church, but if a conversation is to be had, I would rather it be succinct, clear, and rational. Otherwise, it will be the cause of much unnecessary dissention in the church. In other words, keep up the work as long as you want, but ‘beware of pride’.

  46. Melanie Williams says:

    I have enjoyed reading this conversation. I have a couple of thoughts.

    1. When anyone stands up and says that they want to be treated better, I aplaud it, I think it’s brave.

    2. Even though I think it is brave I would encourage all of the women who desire to protest for more equality in any church to consider the idea that there is no need to change it. Just change yourself. Give yourself what you are expecting others to give you. Give yourself a belief system and spiritual practice that empowers you, makes your heart sing, opens and enlightens your mind, liberates you. No one can give that to you but yourself. I mean…isn’t it oppressive not too

  47. Melanie Williams says:

    I have enjoyed reading this facebook conversation. I have a couple of thoughts.

    1. When anyone stands up and says that they want to be treated better, I aplaud it, I think it’s brave.

    2. Even though I think it is brave I would encourage all of the women who desire to protest for more equality in any church to consider the idea that there is no need to change it. Just change yourself. Give yourself what you are expecting others to give you. Give yourself a belief system and spiritual practice that empowers you, makes your heart sing, opens and enlightens your mind, liberates you. No one can give that to you but yourself. I mean…isn’t it oppressive not too?

  48. Hi friend,

    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your feelings. I don’t share them, and have never felt unequal in this church, but I appreciate the way you express your views kindly, with respect to the views of others, also. I think the world in general needs to learn how to do this, and I think you are setting a wonderful example!

    Just a little background on me. I am 38 years old, single. and am the Relief Society President in my ward. It’s a regular ward, not a single’s ward, right in the middle of Happy Valley, Utah. I have never felt anything but love and respect from the priesthood leaders in our ward. I don’t need an invitation to attend PEC–if I want to go, I just tell the Bishop I am coming. If the PEC is discussing matters that pertain to the families in the ward, I am always invited to attend. I have been invited to speak in priesthood meetings. My Bishop has never gone ahead with a decision I feel uncomfortable with. We make decisions that effect the families of the ward together, and talk about things until we both feel good about them. I can take as much time as I want in ward council or PEC to discuss matters that I feel are important to the sisters in the ward. I have never been “told” what to do by my Bishop. If I invite him to speak at a Relief Society function, he always asks me what I feel the sisters need to hear. I am invited to attend Bishopric meetings often, and am involved in most all of the callings in the ward. If there is anything I want to discuss with the Bishopric, I am welcome at Bishopric meetings at anytime.

    I am not a mother. I am not a wife. I feel valued and loved for my contribution to the church purely as a woman. It is a beautiful feeling! I am sorry that your experience has not been the same as mine. As my fellow sister in the church, I just want you to know that I love you and value your opinions. I hope one day you will be able to either resolve those feelings or see the change you are looking for, in order feel truly valued for who you are in a gospel you clearly love so much! My prayers are with you, and with all the women in the church that feel this way. Even though I don’t share those feelings. I definitely understand them!

  49. Love this, says it all to me abot this topic..

  50. Jason Cummins says:

    I understand your concerns and how things must seem from your point of view. However I disagree, I do believe things to be equal. The list you made for the most part dealt with Priesthood responsibilities, women do not hold the Priesthood. Men aren’t able to have children, men and women are different. Just because men and women are different doesn’t mean they are less than equal. Most women would rather stay home with their children than work and leave someone else to raise them, most women are not concerned with having the Priesthood because they are blessed by it- the man in the home cannot bless himself he serves the home. People seem to try and get offended when there is nothing to be offended by. LDS women are the best treated women on earth, the most blessed and the happiest, I feel anything else is the minority opinion.

  51. I am not a member of LDS but have many friends and a co worker who is Mormon. I find this post very interesting, and am trying to learn as many aspects of church life as I can ( as it interests us and we may pursue it further). I can absolutely see why a woman can feel unequal withing your faith. At the same time, I dislike many ( most, to be honest) facets of modern feminism. I grew up in with the mentality ( as did many of my peers) that motherhood was a ‘cop out’, I wanted to have a career, and didn’t want to have kids. I also had no dreams of getting married, although I always hoped I would find my soul mate ( and I did!). Sex with anyone was a not a big deal in my town, but it felt wrong to me when I became a teen. It wasn’t until I met my husband and had my daughter that my views on womanhood completely change, and I have to agree with an earlier commenter that we don’t yet know what a real female run world would look like, as females feel they need to emulate men. Gain authority, prestige… as though that would give us signifigance. I mean I got pressure from friends and family when I became a SAHM and the feeling I need to ‘be something important’ or bring in an income constantly causes me to feel inferior. So in essence, what I’m saying is that I am in between. I disagree with many aspects of modern feminism, but do feel that a woman’s true potential and nature should be made manifest as it would be an asset to the world. I just feel confused as to what that potential is and how to go about manifesting it. lol!

  52. Reading this blog and several of the comments on it, I’ve noticed something that really bothers me. I feel like a lot of the feelings of inequality being expressed here stem from CULTURAL aspects of the LDS church, not church doctrine. For example, several of you have said that you feel like you weren’t allowed to adventurous things like the boy scouts. Who says you can’t? In the Young Women’s Camp handbook I remember knot tying, knife usage, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and all sorts of other really cool things! The only reason we never did them was because a lot of the girls in the group didn’t want to do that kind of stuff, not because the church said we couldn’t! I went on all sorts of wonderful adventures in my years in Young Women’s! We even kayaked up a river one year and camped at the end! And I know for a fact that Young Women’s groups are allowed to do fund raising – our group in my home ward did fundraisers all the time!

    This sentence also really bothered me “I feel unequal when women have less prominent, prestigious, and public roles in the church, even before and after childrearing years.”
    I’m sorry if I sound inconsiderate, but I just don’t understand where this is coming from. The church does not involve prestige. There is nothing that says that the Prophet is “better” than the General Relief Society President. And as far as more public or more prestigious? What does that have to do with anything? Publicity comes from (again) the cultural aspect of the church, not the doctrine. Personally, I hate it that people treat the Prophet and the 12 Apostles like they’re Hollywood celebrities. They are just like any other men, only they have been called of God to serve the church in a specific calling. They receive special Priesthood keys and responsibilities, but women also receive special blessings and responsibilities when they are set apart. It’s all the same process.

    The one sentence that really hit me was “I feel unequal when my value is primarily linked to being a wife and mother rather than by being a child of God.” This is utterly false. Look at the Young Women’s and Relief Society themes. The FIRST LINE in both of them states that we are daughters of our Heavenly Father. I don’t know where this belief comes from, but I have NEVER felt that my value as a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was so heavily emphasized by my role as a wife or mother. I have been told time and time again by my leaders and in conference talks that I am loved by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that my life means everything to him. (I would strongly suggest reading the talk by Elder Deiter F. Uchtdorf from the General Relief Society Meeting, October 2011 entitled “Forget Me Not.” He says time and time again that you as a daughter of God matter to Him and that “no matter who you are, no matter what your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten.”)

    Again, I’m sorry if I offend anybody by what I am saying. I am not trying to say that you can never have these feelings of inequality. But I am saying that there is a need to put life in perspective and separate the culture of the LDS faith from what it actually teaches. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has taught me that I am a woman of infinite worth, that I matter and that I can make decisions in my life. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me and want me to succeed. I can never deny that.

  53. Awesome list! Many of them I felt deeply but never really admitted to myself that they bothered me and why.

  54. Your complaints were well written. You obviously have worked very hard to come up with all the things that bother you about the church. I never could have thought of so many “inequalities” as you put it. It sounds like you enjoy being a leader and want a lot more responsibilities than you have now. There is plenty of work for an enterprising person like youself to do in the church. You need to be the change you want to see in the world. Just a few things you could do:

    If there are not enough women’s voices in your neighborhood, write a book or give firesides.
    If your young women don’t have enough money to do activities, chip in some yourself.
    Write a song about women in the scriptures and have your primary kids sing it, or present it to be published for sale by Deseret book.
    Volunteer to speak more in your ward and stake conferences.
    Make sure your husband gives you equality in your own marraige.
    If you want to find out more about Heavenly Mother pray about it yourself.

    As I see, being raised by a single mother and never having a man’s voice in my life until I got married, there are many problems in this world because of men stepping out of the lives of women and children and not taking responsibility themselves. Men are needed and important also. The boys in this church are being taught to be responsible men. As I have seen raising both boys and girls, the girls are natural leaders. The boys tend to be more lazy and enjoy having fun and not buckling down to work. They need to be taught this and the church is the perfect training ground. Besides every wife knows she is the neck that turns the head. Come on, let the men have something to do so we women can have a little relaxation. :)


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  3. […] Wave main site Opening clip, Chelsea’s list of “Why I Feel Unequal” Talents of Sisters Etsy […]

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  5. […] following it are not.  Many of the concerns brought up by the WAVE organization in this article ( resonate with me, but the method of change they and other “LDS feminists” prescribe disturbs […]

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