Episode 52: Women That Leave Because of Gender Inequality

Join Lindsay as she talks to three women (Gabe, Katrina and Kimberly) about their decision to stop attending church because of issues relating to gender inequality in the LDS church.  (Please be respectful of their stories)

Links mentioned in this podcast:
BYU study that describes lower retention rates among YW than YM.

17 thoughts on “Episode 52: Women That Leave Because of Gender Inequality

  1. Thank you for sharing your stories! So much of what was shared resonates with my own experiences. I still attend, but there are many times that I don’t know how much longer I will be able to without some kind of significant change being made. I am very fearful of the messages my daughter will receive as she grows older because I know how damaging they were to me. I pray daily that hearts and minds can be opened and that the church will make changes to embrace all of our Heavenly Parents children, exactly as They created them and we will all be recognized for our unique and valuable gifts regardless of our ‘labels’. I think that is the only way we will ever find real ‘Zion’.

  2. I applaud each of you for telling your stories. I too, as a 59 yr.old LDS woman, know what you are sharing and have wondered many of the same things throughout the years. I was in a decades long temple marriage with nine kids. After enduring much abuse – emotional & sexual – I finally divorced and in the process my eyes were opened. I since married a NOMO who is a decent and respectful man. Yet my ward now judges and ignores me and I don’t fit in anymore. Before my whole life was the church, now I’m trying to figure out where I fit…when I don’t anymore. I consider myself a deeply spiritual person and cannot understand WHY our Heavenly Mother is not spoken of and WHY I felt my only worth was in continually bearing children. I also believe women DO need the p-hood so we can be TRUE EQUALS. Thank you again for having the courage to share your stories. ALSO – are each of you still members – or have some of you had your names removed?

    1. Dear Sherry,

      It is utterly disgusting what they did to you. Forcing you to bear 9 children is not only a violation of women’s rights but an act of true selfishness on the part of a man A church that equates a women’s value by the number of children she bears or how much of a slave and servant she is to a man has nothing to do with what humanity is about or what God is or should be. If God does exist, he would never want anyone to suffer because of abuse of any kind or because a lack of humanity or extreme/crazy man made laws.

      God wants people to not hurt each other, nor abuse them, nor reduce half of humanity to slavery and suffering stupid obedience.

      Women are getting more and more disgusted by what men do in the name of their selfish ego and lust and in the name of God and if things do not change in the future, there will be a rebellion of some sort, not just the silent kind but a real one …. We have had it of abuse by men and cheating and the rest of it.

      I never married because of what i have seen men can do to women and experience also the bad treatment in every respect.

      I am glad you divorced this man and i hope you are managing and happy with this new person.

      Girls are becoming more and more reluctant to trust their lives into the hands of men and the way mormon men seem to treat women is evidence that they have not truly understood the true message of god of respect, love and compassion. But dont worry, men like husbands will soon find out that nobody want to marry them as girls claim more and more the right to be treated as the great human being they truly are and reserve themselves the right to put an end to all kind of abuse and double standards.

      Have a great day

      1. Blue eyes,
        Please don’t generalize, eg.
        “and the way mormon men seem to treat women is evidence that they have not truly understood the true message of god of respect, love and compassion.”
        By far the majority of mormon men who are close to me treat their wives and other women with all the love an respect they deserve. I’m so sorry that not everyone feels this way, but recognize that this is not the reality for all mormon women.

  3. Thank you for speaking up, and being comfortable enough with your own voice to do so. So much of your stories reflect my own experience.

    I have been hesitant however to identify as a Mormon Feminist because over the last year I have stopped attending. In my ears I hear the rining of voices, telling me that since I am inactive I would be lying to call myself mormon, and that my story no longer has weight because I have “fallen away”. But Mormon Feminism is still my birth place, it is where my spiritual identidy was sowen and took root. I may not know the form or shape it may grow into, but this is where my sprouting started.

    I want to comment on one small thing. The question was asked, “was it a thousand little cuts or one large thing” that caused dissafection from the church. (not an exact quote) I just wanted to say that, in a way, the small things are harder to combat. If it was just one big problem then you can work for that one big change. But the little things are so ingraned into the system and the culture, that it takes a compleat institutional overhaul to fix. Even then, most of the time a generation or two has to pass away before the changes really make it into the culture. (Isn’t that what we were taught about Moses wandering the desert? ;))

  4. Wow – this was powerful. I am active and intend to continue to be so. But periodically I do a cost-benefit analysis of my church membership, and when I do this I try to distance myself emotionally from the whole thing. I could hear a lot of pain in these women’s voices who tried to do the right thing in their lives and it didn’t work for them in the way that they had hoped. Thank you for sharing these voices!

  5. The women discussing their issues with the Church on this program were young, long time members with loving Mormon families so I am very different. I am an older, divorced woman with no family in the Church. Yet I saw the differences immediately because an older single divorced man was baptized when I was and I could see how much more opportunity he had in the Church than I did. The missionaries were able to visit him, share meals with him and socialize in ways they could not with me. I was never a part of women’s social cliques and don’t enjoy socializing with Relief Society and talking about my children and who married whom or is having the next grandchild. I found older women boring and gossipy and only enjoyed discussions with younger women and men in the Church. I could not attend the “Men’s meeting” but new, unbaptized men could and the Relief Society President told me she represented me at those meeting so I told her I did not want her to represent me and withdrew from R.S. Since the missionaries would not step inside my apartment because I am celibate (I’m not living with a man) and would stand outside the door talking but would share a meal with a brother and his sexual partner I knew the Church was skewed entirely toward men. Their behavior demeaned me and made me feel as though I was less worthy even though the Bishop gave me talks and a calling and treated me with love. During the last campaign the Tea Party males were very active and very vocal and offended that I would argue politics with them. As a news reporter I had to work hard to get equal treatment in newsrooms in the 60s and 70s when women were not treated equally in my profession and I was not about to give up my strength and self-esteem after fighting so hard to attain them. I became depressed to the point of visiting a psychiatrist and he agreed that leaving the Church (my decision, not his) was probably a good idea. And it was. I love the Church, watch Conference on line, read all the literature and am studying on my own and communicating with the few friends who have remained my friends. I found, when I left the ward, how few friends I actually had. The fact that the missionaries will not share a meal with me without bringing a chaperone and will not come inside my apartment in a senior apartment complex when I ask them to is my main issue. It separates me from the little family contact available to me and deprives me of the privilege of having these fine young men share a meal with a sister who is old enough to be their grandmother. (Once they asked me to walk to a study and meet them since the man they were studying with was my former neighbor and friend. After the study it was dark out and they refused to walk me home. I had taken a bad fall walking to the store a few months earlier and broken my wrist and was afraid I would fall in the dark on the three block walk. They called a brother I did not know from another Ward and he was not happy about having to bring his wife and drive home and elderly sister he did not know who was in a pretty bad mood by then.) This “Rule” is only one of dozens I resent. June

  6. Hearing Kimberly talk about loving anatomy and wanting to become a surgeon made me cry. It is a sad thing that our faith tradition limited her in such a way. I’ve felt the same in my own journey and absolutely want a different outlook for my children. I love so many things about the church and don’t necessarily want to leave, but I don’t know how I am going to be able to navigate raising a daughter with even more baggage than was around when I was growing up in the church.

    Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about Kimberly’s experience. But I’m not sure that it was “our faith tradition” that limited her. I have a sister and two dear friends who are active in the church and happy there, and are also doctors or currently in medical residency. Clearly, there are other influences on our perceived idea about what our life choices should be.
      Hmmm. Maybe I just don’t belong at this site. Or is it okay to comment when I don’t completely agree?

      1. Of course you should comment if you disagree, how will I open my mind to other ideas if no one does?

        I think you’re right, it isn’t our faith tradition alone that limited her, but I expect it did play a part in what she felt her choices were. I too know an LDS woman who is an MD, but I’ve gotta tell you, those are few and far between in my experience. It’s hard to imagine what you haven’t seen. My kids see very few examples of women in professional careers in our church circles. Very few.

  7. ^^ not all who wander are lost. Perfect. It’s not like our lives completely fall apart as soon as we stop setting foot in that maroon-carpeted chapel.

    I loved this podcast. I have been in and out for the past year or so, and am struggling to break away completely and there are times when I want to go back but times when I’m sure I’ll never return, and it’s nice to not feel alone. I have a daughter (only 1) but I just can’t imagine letting her internalize some of the messages that are pervasive in LDS doctrine and culture.

    (side note, and not as a point of chastisement but of interest, have you read the critiques about Half the Sky (you bring it up in the podcast as kind of the end-all-be-all read of global women’s issues)? This is probably the most famous one: http://www.racialicious.com/2012/10/08/your-women-are-oppressed-but-ours-are-awesome-how-nicholas-kristof-and-half-the-sky-use-women-against-each-other/) This is mostly focused on the documentary, which I found deeply problematic in so many respects, but the book does a lot of the same things. I think Kristoff has good intentions, but not good methods. I do think he does a good job of showing women in their own cultures seeking for change but the overlying tone seems condescending, that the women need saving from an outsider.

    1. I originally wrote this comment on the blog and it wouldn’t post, so it WAS underneath Rune’s response to the commenter who said you might as stay in the church so you aren’t wandering around lost forever. That’s why the ^^ are there, in case you’re confused!

  8. thank you for being so open and honest with your stories. I learned so much listening to you all and I share many of your feelings. I wonder if another podcast could be done to talk about the actual transition out of the church. What was it like? was it libetating or scary? How did it affect your marriage, relationships with friends, what did your children go through? Were you able to keep some of the same community of friends or did you have to abandon it entirely? Did you find a new community to belong to or do you even feel the need to have one? are you always on someone’s reactivation list or did you remove your names from the records? Do you teach your children at all about God and help them to self identify the way they want to? My life is so intertwined with all my mormon friends that a disruption like this would be huge and scary. thank you for your stories.

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