Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism
Utah women today might be surprised to learn their grandmothers' views on feminist issues, according to Maxine Hanks. LDS Relief Society co-founder Sarah Kimball referred to herself as "a woman's rights woman, " while Bathsheba Smith was called on Relief Society mission in 1870 to preach equal rights for women.
The society editorialized that females belonged not only "in the nursery" but also "in the library, the laboratory, the observatory." Sisters sent east to study medicine were assured that "when men see that women can exist without them, it will perhaps take a little of the conceit out of some of them." Temple officiators were called "priestesses, " Eliza R. Snow the "prophetess, " and women were discouraged from confessing to bishops on grounds that personal matters "should be referred to the Relief Society president and her counselors." Women were set apart as healers "with power to rebuke diseases."
In addition, Mormon theology spoke reassuringly of a Mother God of the divinity of Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Eve. No wonder Relief Society president Emmeline B. Wells could write with confidence: "Let woman speak for herself; she has the right of freedom of speech. Women are too slow in moving forward, afraid of criticism, of being called unwomanly, of being thought masculine."
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John Taylor, "Origin, Object, and Destiny of Women," The Mormon, 29 Aug. 1857.
38. Book of Mormon ... Andrea Moore Emmett, "Open Letter to My Daughter,"
Mormon Women's Forum Newsletter 1 (Aug. 1991): 3. 45. "Emerging Mormon ...
Contact your BYU ward Relief Society Presidencies any time. VI. Mormon
Women 's Forum Newsletter lln 1 988 when Karen Erickson Case asked
permission to participate in the blessing of her only daughter, her stake president
contacted the ...
NOTES Lavina Fielding Anderson is president of Editing, Inc., and editor of the
Journal of Mormon History. ... Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23 (Winter
1990): 81-95, and was first presented as a paper for the Mormon Women's Forum
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