Diet Feminism: It Won’t Make Your Arse Fat, But It’s Still Bad For You

Well, the site is taking shape, and I feel I can now pass a preliminary judgment. WAVE are a waste of time.

First off, some name clarification. WAVE are really just WAV, because they are certainly not working for equality. Any time someone asks them if they intend to gain meaningful leadership roles for women (the most obvious path to becoming equal with men) they backpedal and state that they do not want women to have the priesthood.

WAV’s features are somewhat wanting. I admit in advance that this may be just be my incredible level of cynicism, but the questions posed to Ask a (pseudo)Feminist in general seem like boilerplate questions devised by the site owners, not real questions from a meaningful readership or community. Their first “Call to Action” is to ask for a list of quotes by LDS leaders past and present that make ladies feel good about themselves. I hope when they post the collected quotes they don’t forget a lacy tablecloth and a painting of a woman in an ankle-length gown gazing serenely at puffy white clouds. The HOPE blog has no entries. Seems faithful active LDS women don’t want to admit that their lives aren’t perfect on an unofficial site. They must be too busy writing fictional versions of themselves on mormon.org.

Most embarrassing is the page on “Feminism 101.” WAV define Mormon feminism as something that “concerns itself with how feminist thought and practice intersects with the doctrine and organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” No, dearies. That’s Mormon feminist theory, as in observing but not acting. Mormon feminism means Mormonism plus feminism equals pushing for the abolition of gender restrictions on women within Mormonism. They also note “If you get together with a bunch of Mormon feminists, you’ll find mothers, professors, lawyers, businesswomen, and even some men.” Blimey! Men can be feminists? LOLWTF? There’s also an unintentionally humourous entry in the Words of Wisdom section. Their very first quote is from Gordon B. Hinckley, who declared “The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women.” Yes, but only outside the LDS Church. Oops.

News flash, o ye sewing circle of diet feminism: If you’re going to use the big fat E word, you should actually believe in it. Equality means equality means equality. To say that you are advocating for equality means that you believe women can and should pass the sacrament, give blessings, lead meetings, provide counsel, conduct ritual, shape policy, and supervise congregations. That’s not an opinion; that’s what women being equal to men in the LDS Church means. If the only thing you want is some kind of guaranteed platform for making Mormon men listen to what you have to say, you’ve already go that. It’s called a wedding ring.

I’m disappointed because I thought the idea had merit as a grassroots movement, but it now seems that all WAV wants to do is gild the pedestal Mormon women stand on. There’s already an organisation that exists to make women made neurotic by the grinding pull of cognitive dissonance feel relevant in a church that treats them like a second class appendage, or rather, auxiliary: The Relief Society. I was hoping for some genuine push for change here, not some overeducated Auntie Toms. But perhaps in the end I’m just beating my head against a wall. Perhaps it’s not really possible to make women equal within Mormonism. Maybe all that can be done is make the inequality easier to swallow. If so, we can count on WAV to git ‘er done.

14 thoughts on “Diet Feminism: It Won’t Make Your Arse Fat, But It’s Still Bad For You

  1. egads, it sounds exactly the same as the crap spewed by Catholic women. I used to be one of them. *shudders*

    I literally used to throw this out: “Catholicism is sacramental; we believe we can experience God in the material world. We believe that signs and symbols matter a great deal. That’s why you can’t use cake or other bread products or grape juice for the Eucharist. It has to be the same form as what Jesus instituted. For the same reason, because the priest is the symbol of Jesus, he has to be an accurate representation. So because Jesus was a man, priests must be men.” And then I’d throw out how venerated the Blessed Virgin and Mary Magdalene are in the Catholic faith, and a bunch of other crap.

    That was me arguing for my own subjugation and inequality because of my faith in my religion. I’m done with that now!

    • Isn’t it funny how authoritarian religions get the women to do the gender enforcement for them? I think it’s because the only way for a woman to feel valued in such a system is to out-patriarch the patriarchy. Sadly, these women don’t see that the best they can do is as lapdogs, not one of the masters at the table.

  2. “They also note “If you get together with a bunch of Mormon feminists, you’ll find mothers, professors, lawyers, businesswomen, and even some men.” Blimey! Men can be feminists? LOLWTF?”

    ps my husband is more of a feminist than I am. There are several brands of products my husband absolutely refuses to buy because of their sexist ads (no matter how tame). One of them is Snickers candy bars. And I’m one of those people who just gets this awful craving for candy bars sometimes that will not go away. 😦

  3. I agree completely. They’re not doing feminism, they’re politely asking the abusive patriarchy, “please, can you treat us just a little bit nicer, sir?” And what happens when the patriarchy says, “No.” as they have for 150 years?

    Local church leaders might be amenable, but you know that the higher-ups will never allow it. The way they keep their power is by keeping it a straight, white men’s club only. They know that they need to keep the minorities oppressed and grovelling. Once you give them the least bit of self-respect they start getting uppity and demanding more and more, until it’s full and total equality. I know I seem to have a cynical view of the hierarchy, but they’ve never given me a reason not to.

    Feminism is radical, unapologetic, and it does not make concessions so that the patriarchy doesn’t feel threatened or get its feelings hurt. I hope they do achieve something good, but this is not equality, and this is not feminism.

  4. The LDS feminists increasingly strike me as people who are trying to have their cake and eat it too. In the case of the church, you *have* to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There’s no separating the two, and I’m not sure there will ever be, but I’m willing to leave room for hope.

    Leaving the church is very, very scary at times, but dammit. Something has to be done, and I tend to think anymore that voting with your feet is the loudest thing you can do.

  5. Molly, Carla, Craig, and Lisa,

    Thanks. This is exactly the conundrum we’ve been debating. We WANT to be a voice for equality and change (not all changes we want necessitate having the priesthood and by advocating for it we push away people open to some of the simpler changes) but we’ve learned from earlier Mormon feminists that we have to approach these issues gingerly. Help us.

    You are all bright and obviously passionate. We need all the help we can get to see if we can make some real changes. If our voices aren’t heard (i.e. if we all leave or are excommunicated) then there is no hope and hope is what keeps me going.

    Molly, thanks for linking to this blog. We get so much hate mail from the conservative perspective we forget that we are trying to be so tame (and I love the picture/title!)

    Sincerely,
    Ask a Feminist @ http://www.ldswave.org

    P.S. We’re new and trying to get it together so pass on your feedback, etc. We want to start up the HOPE blog with women’s experiences in and out of the church relating to gender inequality. It sounds like you all have some stories. Feel free to send them along so we can get this tab going!

    • I suppose my question is what exactly do you want? Most advocacy groups come up with a set of bullet points and organise them like a business’ quarterly goals. What are your concrete phase 1 action items?

  6. (Hello Ms Muses, I’m delurking to comment but I’ve enjoy your blog. I’m not an ex-Morman – never been Mormon – but I find Mormonism interesting… oh, and I’m an angry, hairy legged, men devouring (not) feminist.)

    Ask a Feminist wrote:

    …”we’ve learned from earlier Mormon feminists that we have to approach these issues gingerly”…

    Actually, I don’t think that you have learned at all. Previous Mormon and non-Mormon feminist have sacrificed a lot PERSONALLY to live with integrity and for the benefit of women generally.

    Sure you might observe, think and discuss the world through a feminist lens… and that’s wonderful but that is feminist theory. IMO, to be a feminist is to engage in PRAXIS – to put theory into practice. That is FEMINISM.

    You can attempt dismantling the patriarchy from within… good luck but I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath.

  7. Not until women in the church can grumble so loud that when peeps like Hinckley get asked about women and the priesthood there is no way they can say…”I think our women are happy, they’re not complaining!” Yikes, yes we have been, are, and did. But until Mormon women, who truly want change, do something about it, then it’ll never happen. Once anyone tries, she gets shunned, labeled. Maybe church sit-ins for meetings and callings. Mixing of the PH and RS, having women advocate for SS presidency, ward clerk, with credentials and everything! Get the press involved so it’ll be a lot more difficult to have leaders near and far reprimand without repercussion. That’s a Mormon feminist movement I could get behind! Gathering active women and nonactive to nevermo to exmo from around various parts of the country etc and hold protests, etc, have a letter campaign, boycott church-owned facilities, with hold tithing, and thus temple going and volunteering, striking against callings, etc. I kind of imagine the gay movement back in Harvey Milk’s time….sigh.

  8. Obviously this comment is a bit after the fact, but I enjoy this blog so the hell with timing!

    I do have an issue with the “all or nothing” approach this post advocates. To quote:

    “News flash, o ye sewing circle of diet feminism: If you’re going to use the big fat E word, you should actually believe in it. Equality means equality means equality. To say that you are advocating for equality means that you believe women can and should pass the sacrament, give blessings, lead meetings, provide counsel, conduct ritual, shape policy, and supervise congregations. That’s not an opinion; that’s what women being equal to men in the LDS Church means.”

    I guess to me, this sounds like reverse reminiscing of the logic the church uses, and rhetoric I have heard from particularly literalist mormons. I realize this is a pretty heavy-handed accusation, but what I mean is this: I have heard my whole life, and particularly after BKP’s talk came out that “you either follow the leadership or you don’t.” Most especially I heard the sentiment that to believe the church is true, you had to follow everything the church said, and you couldn’t pick or choose your doctrines. Now, this is pretty different from what you’re talking about, but I think any time you get too dogmatic about your beliefs, ie excluding other perspectives from the discussion simply by definition or saying that are not real feminists, I get the same queasy feeling I got for so many years. I think that if someone is truly trying to fight for their rights, perhaps they have a legitimate view of what equality means to them. It may not agree with you, and that’s fine, keep fighting for exactly what you want! You go girl! lol, but seriously, I do like this blog and agree with you on the majority of what you say, just wanted to give my two cents.

    • It’s fine to disagree — don’t ever apologise for having an opinion, especially when it’s as well-reasoned as this one.

      I don’t object to these women calling themselves Feminists, although I’ll put them on the hand-wringing as opposed to bra-burning end of the spectrum. I strongly disagree with any exclusionary definition of Feminism. But a word like equality leaves very little wiggle room. Kind of like freedom. You’re either a slave or you are not. You are either equal or you are not. Mormon women have no influence in the power structure of their church. That’s unequal. I’ll compare it to having the vote. You either do or you don’t.

      Perhaps it’s just a matter of word choice, but I feel it’s extremely misleading for an organisation that more or less supports the status quo to use the word “Equality” as part of their name.

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