lds feminism matters
As a feminist who has grown up in the church, I have spent the last few weeks glued to social media and furiously tapping out talking points and rebuttals in response to the news of Kate Kelly’s excommunication. Sometimes it’s easy to become so caught up in discussing who did what and when and how that we forget to discuss the ‘why’.
Let’s talk about where some of these concerns are coming from in the first place, shall we?
I’m not an evil man eater or anything, I just find many of the cultural and organizational practices of the church appalling. Things like the chewed up stick of gum, licked cupcake, protect-the-men-from-your-shoulders type stuff. And inequalities in budgets for YM/YW, and the fact that women ONLY have a voice inasmuch as the presiding men allow, and that it took so long for someone to wake up and recognize that women *could* actually pray in conference. I don’t like that my value in the church is tied almost exclusively to being a wife and mother, while men are husbands, fathers, leaders, and breadwinners. I don’t like that men handle 100% of the church finances (no wonder YM get such a chunk!). I don’t like that disciplinary courts consist entirely of men who are coming from a position of privilege inside the church. Do you understand what this means when a woman is raped, but the man claims it was consensual? It’s complete roulette, and far too often the bishop decides she needs to repent, too, because he doesn’t understand that erring on the side of repentance victimizes her twice.
The church is appallingly favorable of men, and women have been trying to raise these concerns for decades! But Kate Kelly’s simple act of recognizing the powerful role of the priesthood and prayerfully deciding to ask boldly, but politely, if women might be able to receive it, too, has done far more to open these conversations than any other effort.
These things NEED to be talked about, even if they are inconvenient or embarrassing. They need to be talked about openly and respectfully outside of male-only meetings and private councils.
If Kate Kelly had gone screaming onto Temple Square with picket signs, she wouldn’t have a following and no one would bat an eye about them hauling her off.
But she simply asked. They could have let her in. Why not? There were seats. It’s not tantamount to ordination. Their refusal to so much as offer her an empty seat in the tabernacle last October only highlighted the problem. THAT was when other feminists like Joanna Brooks, who had initially viewed OW less favorably, got upset and decided that they wanted to make their voices heard, too.
Kate’s crime wasn’t organizing and boldly asking, it was putting the church in a position to embarrass itself.
And, don’t forget, she isn’t just a human rights activist. She’s a lawyer, too. She worked hard to follow to.the.letter. any guidelines she had access to. Which brings up another inequality; women have no official access to the the biggest book of rules, the Church Handbook of Instruction 1. We’re told to play by rules that we don’t even have access to.
Maybe she went against the spirit of the law, but if this is the case, it’s time for the spirit of the law to shift away from giving men their special place of privilege and toward a place of equality and respect for both genders.
Frankly, I have four little girls to worry about, so I’m out. I don’t want to bring them up in that environment, and I can’t work so hard to believe in a gospel that would so actively repress 50% of the membership.
But Kate Kelly? She’s actually faithful. She believes, and she wants to work it out. I walked away, but she stayed and is trying to open these conversations.
And she’s the one deemed unworthy of membership? I know apostates. Kate is not an apostate.
The fact is this: the leadership of this church is failing women. Not all women, but far too many women.
And how dare Kate Kelly organize a peaceful gathering of women to walk to temple square and politely ask to join a half-full meeting? Really? This is the excommunicable offense?
That is why this is so personal to more than Kate Kelly. That is why she got over 1000 letters of support from people both inside and outside of OW.
If you don’t like what Kate Kelly has done, there is something you can do about it. Take it into your church life and make sure you are actively talking about and hearing the needs of women in the church.