Abstract

This study examines online Mormon feminists’ identities and beliefs and their responses to the Mormon Digital Awakening. This is the first published survey of online Mormon feminists, which gathered quantitative and qualitative data from 1,862 self-identified Mormon feminists. The findings show that Mormon feminists are predominantly believing and engaged in their local religious communities but, are frustrated with the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on gender. Many Mormon feminists participate in activist movements to raise awareness of gender issues in the Church, and this study records their responses to these recent events. It is argued that Mormon feminists play a significant role in the LDS Church as they bridge the gap between orthodoxy and non-orthodoxy and between orthopraxy and non-orthopraxy.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.

Notes

1. Some other groups also refer to themselves as Mormons, but this paper will use the term only to refer to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or those closely associated with the Church and its members.
2. Deseret News, Church Almanac (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013).
3. Bruce A. Chadwick and H. Dean Garrett, “Women’s Religiosity and Employment: The LDS Experience,” in Latter-day Saint Social Life: Social Research on the LDS Church and its Members, edited by James T. Duke (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 401–24; Amy Hoyt, “Beyond the Victim/Empowerment Paradigm: The Gendered Cosmology of Mormon Women,” Feminist Theology 16, no.1 (2007): 89–100.
4. Jan Shipps, Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons (Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2000); Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007).
5. Jennifer Huss Basquiat, “Reproducing Patriarchy and Erasing Feminism: The Selective Construction of History within the Mormon Community,” in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 17, no. 2 (2001): 5–37; Elouise Bell, “The Implications of Feminism for BYU,” in BYU Studies 16, no. 4 (1976): 527–39; Karen Dodwell, “Marketing and Teaching a Women’s Literature Course to Culturally Conservative Students,” in Feminist Teacher 14, no. 3 (2003): 234–47; Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Mormonism and Feminism?” in Wilson Quarterly 15, no. 2 (1991): 30–32; Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women; Maxine Hanks, Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992).
6. Lori G. Beaman, “Molly Mormons, Mormon Feminists and Moderates: Religious Diversity and the Latter Day Saints Church,” in Sociology of Religion 62, no. 1 (2001): 65–86.
7. Boyd K. Packer, Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council (May 18, 1993), www.lds-mormon.com/face.shtml (accessed August 30, 2013).
8. Claudia Lauper Bushman and Caroline Kline, eds., Mormon Women Have Their Say: Essays from the Claremont Oral History Collection (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013); Neylan McBaine and Silvia H. Allred, Sisters Abroad: Interviews from The Mormon Women Project (Englewood, CO: Patheos Press, 2013).
9. Jessica Finnigan and Nancy Ross, “‘I’m a Mormon Feminist’: How Social Media Revitalized and Enlarged a Movement,” in International Journal of Research on Religion 9 (2013): art. 12.
10. Dodwell, “Marketing and Teaching.”
11. Finnigan and Ross, “‘I’m a Mormon Feminist.’”
12. Ibid.
13. Basquiat, “Reproducing Patriarchy”; Bell, “Implications of Feminism”; Dodwell, “Marketing and Teaching”; Stack, “Mormonism and Feminism?”; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Border Crossings,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27, no. 2 (2003): 1–7.
14. Hoyt, “Beyond the Victim/Empowerment Paradigm.”
15. Laura Vance, “Evolution of Ideas for Women in Mormon Periodicals, 1897–1999,” in Sociology of Religion 63, no. 1 (2002): 91–112.
16. John Mihelich and Debbie Storrs, “Higher Education and the Negotiated Process of Hegemony: Embedded Resistance among Mormon Women,” in Gender and Society 17, no. 3 (2003): 404–22.
17. Ray M. Merrill, Joseph L. Lyon, and William J. Jensen, “Lack of a Secularizing Influence of Education on Religious Activity and Parity among Mormons,” in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 42, no. 1 (2003): 113–24.
18. Rosemary Avance, “Worthy ‘Gods’ and ‘goddesses’: The Meaning of Modesty in the Normalization of Latter-day Saint Gender Roles,” in Journal of Religion & Society 12 (2010), http://moses.creighton.edu/jrs/toc/2010.html.
19. Lynn Matthews Anderson, “Toward a Feminist Interpretation of Latter-Day Scripture,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27, no. 2 (1994): 85–204.
20. Lynn Matthews Anderson, “Issues in Contemporary Mormon Feminism,” in Mormon Women’s Forum (Summer 1995).
21. Neil J. Young, “‘The ERA is a Moral Issue’: The Mormon Church, LDS Women, and the Defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment,” in American Quarterly 59, no. 3 (2007): 623–44.
22. Martha Sonntag Bradley, Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005).
23. Laura Vance, “Review Essay: Recent Studies of Mormon Women,” in Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 10.4 (2007): 113–27.
24. Chadwick and Garrett, “Women’s Religiosity and Employment.”
25. Bruce Chadwick, Brent L. Top, and Richard J. McClendon, The Shield of Faith: The Power of Religion in the Lives of LDS Youth and Young Adults (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010).
26. Beaman, “Molly Mormons.”
27. McBaine and Allred, Sisters Abroad.
28. Bushman and Kline, Mormon Women Have Their Say.
29. Hanks, Women and Authority.
30. Beaman, “Molly Mormons.”
31. Tim B. Heaton, “Demographics of the Contemporary Mormon Family,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 25 (1992): 19–34; Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1st ed. (New York: Macmillan Company, 1992).
32. Beaman, “Molly Mormons”; Dodwell, “Marketing and Teaching.”
33. Pew Research Center, Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society (D.C.: Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2012), www.pewforum.org/2012/01/12/mormons-in-america-methodology.
34. Michael Lipka, What Surveys Say about Worship Attendance—and Why Some Stay Home (Pew Research Center, 2013), http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/13/what-surveys-say-about-worship-attendance-and-why-some-stay-home/ (accessed May 20, 2014).
35. Chadwick and Garrett, “Women’s Religiosity and Employment.”
36. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Official Declaration 2, September 30, 1978, http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/2 (accessed August 30, 2013).
37. Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 244.
38. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Menstruating Mormons Barred from Temple Proxy Baptisms?” The Salt Lake Tribune, March 5, 2012, http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsfaithblog/53650972-180/temple-women-baptisms-mormon.html.csp (accessed July 27, 2013).
39. Stephanie Lauritzen, “The Dignity of Your Womanhood,” Mormon Child Bride (blog), December 5, 2012, http://mormonchildbride.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-dignity-of-your-womanhood.html (accessed July 23, 2013).
40. Wear Pants to Church Day, Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/WearPantsToChurchDay (accessed July 26, 2013).
41. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Questions and Answers,” in New Era, December 1974, https://www.lds.org/new-era/1974/12/qaquestions-and-answers (accessed August 30, 2013).
42. Sadie Whitelocks, “Mormon Women Launch ‘Wear Pants to Church Day’ in Backlash over Strict Dress Code,” in Daily Mail Online, December 13, 2012, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2247550/Mormon-women-launch-wear-pants-church-day-backlash-strict-dress-code.html (accessed July 26, 2013).
43. My Gilded Cage, “Dress Code,” My Gilded Cage (blog), May 27, 2007, http://myguildedcage.blogspot.co.uk/2007/05/dress-code.html (accessed July 23, 2013).
44. Timothy Pratt, “Mormon Women Set Out to Take a Stand, in Pants,” in The New York Times, December 19, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/19mormon.html (accessed August 30, 2013).
45. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010): Section 18.5, http://www.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church (accessed August 29, 2013).
46. Let Women Pray in General Conference, Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/LetWomenPray (accessed July 26, 2013).
47. Howard Berkes, “A Woman’s Prayer Makes Mormon History,” NPR.org, April 8, 2013, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/04/08/176604202/a-womans-prayer-makes-mormon-history (accessed July 26, 2013).
48. Gregory A. Prince, Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995).
49. Taylor Petrey, “Issues in Mormon Feminism,” Peculiar People, January 7, 2013, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peculiarpeople/2013/01/issues-in-mormon-feminism/ (accessed August 8, 2013).
50. LDS Church, Church Handbook 2: Section 18.2.
51. Ibid., Section 4.3.
52. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Church Adjusts Mission Organization to Implement ‘Mission Leadership Council’,” in Mormon Newsroom, April 5, 2013, http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-adjusts-mission-organization-implement-mission-leadership-council (accessed July 26, 2013).
53. J. Bonner Ritchie, “The Institutional Church and the Individual,” in Sunstone Magazine (March 1981): 98–112.
54. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “New Mormon Scriptures Tweak Race, Polygamy References,” The Salt Lake Tribune, March 1, 2013, http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55930173-78/church-lds-changes-mormon.html.csp (accessed July 26, 2013).
55. Brent, “Why Language Matters: A Side-by-Side Look at a Lesson from the New YW/YM Manuals,” in Doves and Serpents, October 12, 2012, http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2012/10/manuals/ (accessed July 26, 2013).
56. Brad, “Revelation, Consensus, and (Waning?) Patience,” By Common Consent (blog), February 6, 2008, http://bycommonconsent.com/2008/02/06/revelation-consensus-and-patience/ (accessed August 29, 2013).
57. Daniel C. Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, reprint edition (London: Penguin, 2007).
58. Katie J. M. Baker, “Mormon Women are ‘Admired’ but Still Not Equal to Men,” Jezebel, December 3, 2012, http://jezebel.com/5965164/mormon-women-are-admired-but-still-not-equal-to-men (accessed August 29, 2013).
59. Bushman and Kline, Mormon Women Have Their Say.
60. Chadwick, Top, and McClendon, The Shield of Faith, 33; Rick Phillips and Ryan T. Cragun, Mormons in the United States 1990–2008: Socio-Demographic Trends and Regional Differences (Hartford, Conn.: Trinity College, 2011), http://commons.trincoll.edu/aris/files/2011/12/Mormons2008.pdf (accessed August 30, 2013); Carrie Sheffield, “Why Mormons Flee their Church,” in USA Today, June 17, 2012, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-06-17/mormon-lds-ex-mormon/55654242/1 (accessed August 30, 2013); Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Gender Gap Widening among Utah Mormons, But Why?” in The Salt Lake Tribune, December 22, 2011, http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/53117548-78/mormons-utah-percent-mormon.html.csp (accessed August 30, 2013).
61. John P. Dehlin, “Top 5 Myths and Truths about Why Committed Mormons Leave the Church,” Why Mormons Question (website), February 9, 2013, http://www.whymormonsquestion.org/2013/07/21/top-5-myths-and-truths-about-why-committed-mormons-leave-the-church/ (accessed August 30, 2013).
62. Robert Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,” in Journal of Democracy 6, no. 1 (1995): 65–78; Ronald S. Burt, Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992).
63. Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, The Creation and Destruction of Social Capital (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004).
64. Roger L. M. Dunbar and William H. Starbuck, “Learning to Design Organizations and Learning from Designing Them,” in Organization Science 17 no. 2 (2006): 171–78.
65. Michel Foucault, Power (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980); Heidi Campbell, When Religion Meets New Media (New York: Routledge, 2010); Putnam and Campbell, American Grace.