My thoughts on the new LDS feminist club left me with the same frustration I generally feel with feminist Mormon groups. It’s nice to see at places like The Exponent or Feminist Mormon Housewives that there are many, many people with the same gut feeling that I have that Something is Rotten in Mormondom. Mormon feminists are usually in agreement that their lot in life sucks, but very few think to do anything about it. Those that do realise they have options usually chuck their flowered dresses in the bin and quit going to church. Those that stay rarely attempt any practical changes. After reading the promising but vague rollout of a more coordinated push for gender equality at WAVE’s site, I started thinking of small changes that could easily be the pebbles that preceded an avalanche of LDS feminist thought:
- Female missionaries serve at the same age and for the same duration as male missionaries.
- Men serve in Primary presidencies and women in Sunday School presidencies, as presidents and counsellors in positions above and below women leaders.
- Girls pass (though do not bless) the Sacrament
- Women stand in circles when babies are blessed
- Elimination of mandatory gender-based dress codes in the chapel
- Home Teachers are male and female
- Visiting Teaching is phased out, as it’s an unnecessary duplication of Home Teaching
- Single men may be called as bishops
- Women periodically guest-teach in Priesthood, similar to occasional lessons taught by Bishops and other men in Relief Society
- The women’s meeting typically held weeks in advance of General Conference is integrated into the main sessions with the same fanfare as Priesthood Session
- Women speak at the Priesthood session of General Conference, as men speak at the Relief Society session
- Unendowed immediate family are permitted to attend LDS temple weddings
- Women act as LDS temple officiants during the main ceremony
- Private prayer to Heavenly Mother(s), or Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother(s) jointly, is permitted
These mundane issues underscore how totally unequal women currently are in Mormonism, now that I look at a list of the most basic things Mormon women can’t do. They are telling indicators of the level of participation and authority available to Mormon women, and changing them would precipitate much more important changes, like changing the temple ceremony so that women swear their loyalty directly to God and not to their husband, who becomes custodian of their obedience. Couples will be equal when they pledge themselves to one another and then jointly or separately promise to obey their Deity. But big changes won’t happen until the little changes erode the foundations of inequality.
Please add any other small changed that you think might begin the erosion of Mormonism’s gender constraints.