Monday, October 7, 2013

Equality is not a feeling


As a formerly Mormon man, I have always found it fascinating that most Mormon women do not appear to see the rampant sexism in the LDS Church.  I have frequently heard Mormon women say that the don't "feel" oppressed.  Ordain Women is a new movement in the LDS Church to end the almost two century ban on giving women the "priesthood."  As Kate Kelly, the founder of the movement, observed in response to such statements by Mormon women:  "To them I say: you can feel respected, supported and validated in the church, but equality can be measured. Equality is not a feeling. In our church men and women are not equal.”  This article by Joanna Brooks discusses the challenges faced by the Ordain Women movement as it attempts to raise awareness.
Hours after top-ranking LDS Church leaders made national headlines with a public acknowledgment that past Mormon leaders had “made mistakes” and a call for greater acceptance of Mormons who question controversial aspects of the faith, Church representatives turned away nearly two hundred Mormon women seeking stand-by tickets to a restricted men’s-only session of the faith’s semi-annual global conference.
Mormon women travelled from as far away as New York, Florida, and Germany to take part in the collective action organized by the group Ordain Women as a gentle and symbolic demonstration against pervasive gender segregation in LDS Church administration and leadership.
All observant men and boys over the age of 12 are eligible for ordination to the Mormon lay priesthood, and the Church’s theological, liturgical, financial, and administrative decisions are made by an exclusively-male chain of command.
“I have heard from many women, ‘I see nothing wrong with the status quo. I feel equal,’” said Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly to a pre-demonstration gathering in a downtown Salt Lake City park. “To them I say: you can feel respected, supported and validated in the church, but equality can be measured. Equality is not a feeling. In our church men and women are not equal.”
After hymns and prayers, Ordain Women participants walked to elm-lined Temple Square, the heart of historic Mormonism and site of the Church’s General Conference.
As men and boys streamed into the Tabernacle to take their seats for the evening meeting, women waited outside to ask for permission to enter.  (For video, click here.)
One by one, the women stepped forward to speak with LDS Church representative Doug Anderson.
Kate Kelly approached first.  “I understand that all men, even men who are not members of the church and have no investment in Mormonism, are permitted to attend,” she said. “I am a returned missionary and a faithful Mormon woman, and I would like to listen to the prophet in person.”  Kelly was not permitted to enter. 
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