Laurel Thatcher Ulrich on LDS Treatment of Women

The following is taken from a (16 Aug 2012) article written by Peggy Fletcher Stack.  According to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who teaches history at Harvard, Mormonism’s most pressing gender issue is “the great disappearance”:

“I see articulate, spiritually aware, productive, loving and amazingly resilient women in my ward.  Every Sunday I hear their voices, listen to their talks, learn from their lessons, mix with them in meetings and in the foyer, and see them doing amazing things,” Ulrich writes.  “But, for some reason, we get only token acknowledgment of women beyond the ward.”

She has attended entire LDS stake conferences in which “men did all the talking, except occasionally for the wife of the mission president.”

Women have “only token participation” in the church’s semiannual General Conferences and “have largely been erased from our [doctrinal] manuals.  They show up in the Ensign [the church’s official magazine] in very limited ways,” Ulrich says.  “Even the Relief Society visiting teaching messages primarily quote men.”

A recent churchwide publication, Daughters in My Kingdom:  The History and Work of Relief Society, features profiles and writing from earlier Mormon women,” she says, “but as far as I can tell it has no acknowledged place in the curriculum.”

The “strange, new phenomenon” of the disappearing women “is so at odds with my early experience in the church, my understanding of the gospel, and of what looks to me like simple common sense that I am simply stunned that it persists,”  Ulrich writes.  “The sad thing is, many young women in the church have never experienced anything else.”

Kristine Haglund, editor of Dialogue, also worries about the impact of some LDS practices on the church’s young women (quote from the SLTrib article):

The limited vision of women’s roles that Mormonism imported form post-World War II American culture is unappealing and uninspiring for many young women.

This entry was posted in feminism, mormonism, Organizational Dynamics, Religion, Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

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