Episode 8: Stages of Feminism

Tresa (Reese Dixon) explains to Lindsay the stages of a feminist transition and explains the process of moving from Mormon, to Mormon Feminist.

Follow Tresa’s blog here.

FEMINIST INFO RATING SYSTEM:

Read 11 comments

  1. This was a really cool episode. Having been a lurker in the bloggernacle for the past 5-6 years, and having only really actively participated in the last 2-3 years, I’ve learned that what comes out of Tresa’s mouth is gold. A few thoughts I had while listening to the podcast.

    - I really loved the concept that both Tresa and Lindsay talked about “respecting the ones that come before.” I think that’s something that we tend to forget, especially in the age where one can make their thoughts known immediately to others, and where there are these support communities. Tresa’s description about meeting some of the women who had previously fought the “battles,” and have seen both the good and bad over the struggle for equality within the church. I know for me personally, people like Tresa, Lisa, and countless others are the “old guard” of the online Mormon phenomenon that I’ve always looked up to, and seeing and hearing some of their stories is absolutely fascinating.

    - “If the church is harming you, take a break.” You know, 5 years ago, I would have felt this was heresy. Then again, 5 years ago, I wasn’t the same person I am now, and I had a much different world view. I don’t think this is a bad thing. Too often, we like to equate our “Mormon-ness” with how ‘active’ we are in church. Currently, I’m on a self-imposed “break” from church simply because I felt I was getting burnt out in my calling with the youth, and I wanted to make sure that I had enough reserves in the tank in order to fully give myself to my teenagers. And while my wife wasn’t so keen on a break (she’s been continually going to church), at the same time, the “break” wouldn’t have worked with her. It’s not for everyone, but at the same time, sometimes taking a “break” to recharge the batteries isn’t such a bad thing.

    - Tresa also made mention that “You can’t just say ‘I see that there are inequities, and so now I’m a feminist, and that’s where I’m going to stop.’ You do have an obligation to get educated and become aware of what feminism really means.” Amazingly enough, I’ve seen this even in my own wife as of recently. At first, it was “Oh, those feminists, I’m not one of those.” But as we discuss things in her YW program, and her lessons, she’s hit level 2 – “OK, I understand some of those things exist.” But now she’s at a new level, where she is pointing things out, where she is identifying individuals both prominent and in our ward, who say things that get her feminist bristles up. And I think that what Tresa said there was a perfect point for my wife – OK, you now know some of the issues. Now, what?

    Anyways, this was a great discussion. A+

  2. @ Josh, we have several modesty related podcasts scheduled. In fact, we have a whole bunch of really amazing topics coming up- I’m so excited. Stay tuned. You’ll be so sick of modesty by the end of the year! :)

    @ Brandt- we all adore you, you know that right?

  3. Great episode. Mormonism and feminism is an interesting intersection. I’ll admit I was one of those slightly more rabid opponents in the beginning. But, as I’ve read the blogs and listened to the podcasts over the last few years, my views have softened. I still read and hear things that make me bristle. But I no longer think feminists are all man-haters. haha.

    Anyway, I’m one of those people who doesn’t accept the name feminist for myself. It’s not because I’ve accepted the world’s defamatory connotations or because I think feminism is a bad thing. In fact, I often find myself correcting assumptions about my beliefs when I admit I’m not a feminist. People seem to think I disagree with everything feminists have to say. When, in fact, I agree with a great deal of what feminists have to say. I don’t accept the term feminist for myself because I don’t think it’s an accurate descriptor of my beliefs.

    If one strips away everything about feminism to the point of saying it’s just about everyone being equal, then I believe the term “feminism” is no longer an accurate descriptor at a very basic “dictionary” level. Also, I think doing that cheapens feminism or makes it hollow.

    To me feminism is a specialized focus on female issues. It also entails certain foundational beliefs about things like gender roles, male and female sexuality, as well as inter-gender relationships. When those aspects are added back into the “identity” of feminism — the term has meaning. I don’t think feminists should shy away from that. But, at the same time, I don’t think they should be offended when I, or others like me, say we don’t find ourselves in alignment with the feminist ideas. It doesn’t always make us enemies. Nor does it mean that we are unenlightened or still under the thumb of (and blind to) institutionalized patriarchy. I’m sure it does mean that some of the time. Heck, maybe a lot of the time. But I still think it’s as much of a snap judgment to say non-feminists are uneducated on the issues as it is to say feminists are man-haters.

    Blah blah blah. I’m being long winded. All I mean to say is that I don’t call myself a feminist because I don’t accept the feminist premises about gender norms and human behavior. But that doesn’t mean I’m an enemy. I can still be an ally. ;^)

  4. So what am I supposed to be doing? I have only recently, within the past two years, started to learn about mormon feminists and that this movement even exists. I agree with so many of these issues but I am not actively doing anything to help. Part of the biggest reasons why is because I don’t know what to do. I read and listen to other people and they seem to know so much more than I do and are so more self assured that I don’t see where I can fit into this movement or how I can help. So for those of us who want to help make a difference but don’t know where to start, what do we do?

    • I have the same question. I like how you guys gave us a challenge to study more& do more. Did you have any specifics in mind? Are there certain books/articles that should be required Mormon feminist reading? Are there actions we can take at our local level to help move the work along? I know I’ve heard both Laurel Thatcher Ulrich & ClaUdia Bushman talk of making suggestions to our local leaders that would make women more visible in the ward. I specifically remember Claudia encouraging women to start projects. Anthing you are interested in, gather a group of relief society sisters and start a project. Or ask to hold the microphone when your baby is blessed. What do you think, any ideas?

  5. I love this podcast! I’ve loved a lot of Mormon podcasts in my time, but I have to say–I love this one more than I expected. I read all of the blog posts, and participate on the fb page, so I would have thought I’d reach a saturation level. But no. I love hearing your actual voices speaking your thoughts.

    This was a great topic for me because even though it feels like I’ve been a feminist for a while now, it was a good reminder that it’s only been a year and change, at the most, since my feminist awakening. I think I drowned myself so thoroughly in Mormon feminism on the bloggernacle that I feel I’ve aged more quickly in it than real-time, or something.

    But this podcast helped me to clarify where I’m at, which is a place I didn’t hear described, nor have I heard it described by anyone else. Earlier on in my whole process, I felt a heady combination of victimized, angry and liberated. These days, towards feminism I feel quite a lot of despair. Towards Mormonsim, I feel quite a lot of … “meh.” It’s interesting to hear people talk who, after having felt the same anger and victimization that I did, have a resurgence of love for their cultural heritage, and say things like, “no matter what I might disagree with in the institutional church, I can’t abandon the Mormonism inside me–it goes too deep.” They’ll always be Mormon. I hear this from Joanna Brooks, for instance. And maybe from Tresa. Not too sure. And they’re committed to working toward change from within. I admire that.

    But where I’m at now… I guess I feel like the institutional church treats me as a woman with a sort of lukewarm, careless ambivalence. And that’s all I can feel back toward the institutional church. I go, most of the time. Sometimes I stay home. I don’t visit teach. I usually do the bare minimum in my calling. I comment only rarely in classes. But I think the last several years, even before my feminist awakening, I’ve been slowly stepping away, pulling my once-passionately-committed heart out of the deep waters, out of the place where a certain amount of violence was done to it, and I haven’t found anything yet to convince me I should go give it my all again. My life so far has taught me that the kind of commitment the institutional church wants from me, and that I once gave it on a platter, no questions asked, isn’t worth it. Too much hurt, not enough return on the investment.

    Wow, when I started writing with vague ideas in my head, I had no idea this was all going to come gushing out. I hope it’s not too terribly off-topic. I wonder if any other Mormon feminists have gone through this point, to the point of rejuvenated commitment, and how it happened? I mean, I’m pretty sure I can guess a few elements: time, patience, love, maybe a more personalized connection with deity… I’d love to hear some stories.

  6. I found this super helpful. Thank you! I’m a newborn to mormon feminism (although it’s been itching to come out for years) and often find myself angry, sad, overwhelmed, and frustrated, but also enthusiastic to change the world! (ha!) So, Tresa, your guidance was very helpful. Love these podcasts. Can’t wait to hear more!

  7. I really liked how y’all talked about having people on the inside of the Church pushing for change, at the same time that some people leave (perhaps in more dramatic fashion) can be a productive combination. Even without it being planned that way, which is handy.

    Lindsay, you made me laugh when you said that people aren’t in Ward Council or whatever, saying, “Lindsay’s hurt because of her feminist issues. Let’s change our ways!” Don’t we wish! I think you both made the point that I think is spot on that leaving doesn’t appear to get anyone’s notice until a whole lot of people do it.

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