How to Write an Exponent Post

1. Use a pen name, because you certainly don’t want to be excommunicated or embarrass your family.

2. Start with a reflection on something that seems unrelated to you topic, but will tie in later for a nice quiet little “ah-ha!” moment.

3. Raise a legitimate feminist point and suggest a course of action that would provoke controversy but also perhaps result in positive change for Mormon women.

3. Backpedal, saying you may be wrong and you don’t really mean it, but you thought it would be useful to get the hypothetical situation out there for theoretical discussion.

4. Say how you wish things could change, but not too much because you know the church is true and god’s priesthood leaders are the loved and respected authority you are happy to obey.

5. Close with vague, open-ended questions instead of a specific thesis or call to action.

6. Tell everybody in the comments section that they are right, with a few exceptions for people who are flagrantly out of line.

6 thoughts on “How to Write an Exponent Post

  1. Ouch. Lots of us on The Exponent don’t use pen names (those that do, it’s more often for work reasons and not out of fear of ex-ing). And I’d like to think that my posts rarely follow your formula.

    Do you want to write a guest post for us?

    • I don’t think the conclusions I’ve reached would be welcome or appropriate to the Exponent staff or audience. I was a bit harsh here, but lately I’ve been feeling particularly grumpy about the passive-aggressive nature of Mormon feminism. I do understand the perspective that working within the system is safer than raging against (or within) the machine, but what results have the numerous online Mormon feminist site produced? They provide a valuable psychological outlet for women with serious cognitive dissonance, but they don’t and won’t change anything about the LDS church. No group of second class citizens has ever earned equal treatment by quietly sitting in the background grumbling over their wish list.

      The vitriol was more general than the Exponent, I suppose, as there are occasionally authors and posts at various sites that raise substantial issues without the hand-wringing. But I do believe that the current general format and tone of most feminist Mormon websites mainly serve as a pressure release valve for frustrated Mormons coming to terms with the clash between equality and LDS doctrine. None of them are a genuine force for change at the institutional level. That isn’t a bad thing, as it probably provides good support for people in various states of crisis. But if that’s what these sites are for, they should clearly say that, clarifying that site visitors should not expect institutional results. I know real-life frequenters of FMH who spout off in secret, but in real life sound like the most orthodox member you’ve ever met. What’s the point anymore if all we’re going to do is complain in private but smile in public? How is that useful or honest?

      I don’t think this opinion would be well received at the Exponent, and fair enough. Writers have put a lot of effort into what they do over there, and I don’t think anybody would appreciate me telling them all this on their own site.

  2. Molly, I think your criticism might be a little harsh since the whole point of a blog is to write about your thoughts and feelings. That being said, I understand your frustration with the lack of action, a lot of us feel the same way. Recently Jessawhy wrote a post of Mormon Feminist Activism ( This post inspired many of us to take our talk to the next level and start pushing for change. I’m sure you will be hearing more about our efforts in the coming months. And I agree with Jana, I think you should write a guest post for us. Even this post might spark some interesting dialog. šŸ™‚

  3. Pingback: Anonymity and the Status Quo « Molly Muses . . .

  4. Molly,
    Your post reminds me of what a good friend of mine, who has recently become “unplugged from the church” said a few weeks ago. “I dislike Mormons, but what I hate more are people who are trying to make a round peg fit in a square hole.” Yes, it stung when he said it, but it came from his inner pain. He was talking about people like me and others at Exponent who try to make our egalitarian world view mesh with the LDS church.

    I don’t know if any of us really can make change in the structure of the church, but I think that you’re not really looking for the things we are doing to bring change. It sounds like you’re angry, which I completely understand. There aren’t a lot of things women can do in a patriarchal church, but most of us do what we can. For example, I sent my bishop the link to Caroline’s post about how women can be more valued in their ward. He responded via email and said that there were some suggestions he was already using and others that he intended to use. I was thrilled by his response. It’s not much, but it’s not nothing.

    Mraynes said that I did issue a call to action (soft as it was) and have started a group that is working toward change in the church. It’s still in it’s infancy, but I believe that time and cultural changes are on our side and hopefully we’ll see major improvements in the coming years (or decades, I’m not holding my breath).

    I actually thought your post was amusing. Both because it was partly true (of my posts at least) and also because it’s funny to be criticized from both the right AND the left. We’re too liberal for some and not radical enough for others.

    • Your friend’s comment may have stung (delivery of a message can really make it hurt more than it needs to) but there is some truth to it. I have to say I felt much the same way when I read Mraynes’ post on the Easter basket. I thought long and hard before deciding not to comment on that post. This was a story that described how a woman believed that her church engaged in some abusive practices, and yet was making a conscious choice to pass those abusive practices to her daughter. I read and re-read the post, trying to be more charitable with each reading. But I couldn’t come to any other conclusion. Mraynes believes the church makes her suffer and “worries for her daughter” but decides to keep her daughter in the church, accepting the situation with “and so the cycle repeats.” It was very, very difficult for me to understand how a parent could consciously keep their child in a system they believed was abusive and not then realise that they were enabling the abuse. So when those of us who are unplugged get perhaps a little bitter, it’s because we can’t comprehend why people continue to hurt themselves and their children in an effort to force egalitarian beliefs into a faith system that simply doesn’t allow for it.

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