In Response & How Sometimes I Think My Poetic Ways Get the Better of Me (Literally)

Last week Kathy Soper sent me a copy of a post she had written for Patheos (a religious discussion-oriented website with different denominational portals). As with everything Kathy writes, I thought it was original, thought-provoking and powerfully written. The piece is called, As Sisters in Zion: Mormon Feminism and Sisterhood.

As I understood it, the article is not about determining what is feminism in our church (and like she says, who is and who isn't) but about the study of gender issues. How we can have a conversation about our church's established (some doctrinally, some culturally) gender roles and how women can feel empowered to change those if they desire. Or at most, get along with each other.

What I didn't know is that when Patheos published Kathy's article they connected it to a Mormon Feminism Symposium with respondents from well-educated, strongly opinionated Mormon women. I spent the afternoon yesterday and into the evening last night (rubbing eyes) reading and studying all responses. I hope I am not giving away my entertainment levels of my recent past, but it was the most fun I've had in awhile. There is complete enjoyment in stirring the soul.

I have already (painstakingly) written about my ideas about feminism (see:here). Basically, I don't choose to use the term feminism for myself because the term Daughter of God suffices--more than suffices--to produce something inside of me that is ultimately commanding (a thought Neylan McBaine also processed in her well-stated reaction here). And to that end, I also believe that any woman who was, has been and will be inspired to bring about the betterment of the female life was also directed by God. I acknowledge the efforts made by these women--tough decisions and radical thinking--and for the good they have done, I believe they were inspired by personal and powerful revelation, not feminism per se. Ultimately I believe being a Mormon female, along with all the covenants, promises and oaths I have made supersedes the feminism agenda. And sometimes I worry that if my fellow saints get too engaged in what is and what isn't a Mormon feminist they miss the whole glory of being a Mormon woman.

But in writing this I also affirm that Mormon feminism ideals--like the ones presented in the symposium--are important and empowering in their own right. Like Kathy, I don't think it matters who claims feminist and who doesn't, but that a conversation of women exists. I'd just like to see a similar gathering of women who would like to examine what our belief system teaches us about the spiritual woman, the woman of divine origins and eternal destiny. Because that is where we are the strongest, and perhaps most radically different from other religions.

And now (!) a word about gender roles. My husband and I haven't always followed a typical, linear bread winner/housewife pattern. There have been times in my marriage when I brought home the steady paycheck (like I do currently) and there have been times when I haven't. There also have been times when neither one of us brought home a regular income. We've always had an idea that our family could work together for all the responsibilities --work, housework, children care, bill pay--instead of a delegated system. (I do most of the work on this website, while my husband picks up the slack in other areas, essentially this a family-run business.) However, we've found that my husband is blessed with (for the lack of a better term) with a clear, confident belief in our income and the source of it. I lack that ability. But even though he spends a lot of time with our children, sometimes being solely responsible for their nurturing, I have an instinctual gift to speak their language. I know what their needs are almost effortlessly. This isn't so with my husband, he can do the detective work, but it is work.

I don't think the model of our family is what is important as much as how we use the innate and divine gifts given to our genders to create a working, progressing, (generally) happy household. Though we have tried to reverse the order, it seems--spiritually speaking--I get revelation regarding the children and he receives it for our lifestyle, and when we are allowing for that revelation we feel we are the most empowered.

And one more thing about gender roles in our household. On a practical basis of husband and wife I feel we are super partners, we work side by side to bring about the daily workings of our family. We are both equally dedicated to this cause. If there is an imbalance we both fail (and are terribly ornery). There has to be kindness, openness and respect or there is nothing at all.

But as it pertains to my womanhood, my essence as well as in my body, I feel deeply inside of me that there is something so beautiful, eternal and holy about being a female that equality becomes inexplicable. And for his part, my husband feels it too--he directs the force I feel, supporting me in this path of female holiness. I think it's given to every female and receiving male, though hard to express intellectually, with a restricted vocabulary, it undeniably exists. When treated with firm respect by the woman herself and a man full of unrestricted charity, it becomes a powerful source of revelation and transcendence--a place where the importance of gender leads to the paradise of being One.

It something like this: in a Christ-covenanted marriage, a man becomes immortal when he is with a woman, because in her is the key to eternal life. And perhaps what we think is a typical patriarchal, male-led church is the greatest cover up for the most truthful, matriarchal system the world has ever known.

Next time, let's discuss that in the symposium.

Thank you to my friend Kathy, the generous respondents and Dan from Patheos for watering my own garden of thought yesterday. It is sure to grow.

*As always, I do not officially represent anything other than my own head.

I am Courtney Kendrick and I like confluence of thought. 

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