Mormon Women are Finding — and Using — Their Voices. Are Men in the Church Listening?Roundup
tags: religion, Mormonism, womens history, LDS, Latter Day Saints
Jana Riess is the author of many books, including The Prayer Wheel (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.
On my bookshelves I have a copy of the famous 1971 “pink” issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, a pioneering effort for Mormon feminists to make themselves heard. Nearly 50 years later, Dialogue’s latest issue builds upon that effort with a special issue guest edited by the feminist magazine Exponent II.
As a collection of essays, articles, poetry, and art all organized around the theme of women claiming power, it’s beautiful and strong. (And downloading it here is free, so please give it a read.) Reading the issue, I was struck by two primary observations. One is exciting, and the other is mildly depressing.
The exciting part is that this is not our grandmothers’ Mormon feminism, or our mothers’, but something bigger. It’s global and interracial.
For example, its opening essay on Latina sisters and the hermandad recognizes that more than four in ten Latter-day Saints around the world identify or have ties with Latinx heritage. Their voices can be doubly marginalized — they’re women in a church that does not give women much of an institutional voice (see below . . .), and they’re Latinas in a church with a prominent Anglo-American culture and a complicated racial history around “Lamanite” heritage.
I spoke to Margaret Olsen Hemming, the editor of Exponent II and guest editor of this issue of Dialogue, who said that the commitment to multicultural perspectives is intentional. “I really believe that the most vibrant and important voices in our theology and in Mormon scholarship are coming from the margins of our society and of our church,” she said.
She also wanted the special issue to complicate ideas of who holds power in Mormonism.
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