It’s been said that well-behaved women seldom make history…

Happy March! This month is, what, you ask? Why yes, it’s Women’s History Month! 31 whole days to celebrate awesome women who have lived on this beautiful planet! (Although, I must add that I think we should celebrate awesome women EVERYDAY. I know I’m not that the only one that thinks that way.)

It’s amazing how many incredible women there are in my life. My Momma, grandmothers, friends, loved-ones. I think we can all agree that we have been influenced by really wonderful women right from the get-go, whether they be loving mothers, concerned grandmothers, influential family friends, or otherwise. We are so blessed to have women that are so strong, so passionate, so full of love, and have something precious to offer the world.

When I was a missionary living in Japan, I received a letter from my Dad that really changed the way I thought about women in history. He prompted me to make a list of all the visionary people that I could think of. Names like Jesus, Paul, Peter, Moses, Noah, and Adam came to my head. I made quite a long list actually; it took me the better part of an hour to think about who had the gift of vision. My Dad’s letter then read, “Look at your list. Not surprisingly, the list is mostly male.” I took a gander and sure enough, he was right. The vast majority of my list were men in history, men called prophets, seers, revelators. “Look again,” the letter prompted. “Look again! Look, and you will see more of the real story, more of herstory.” I tried to really zero-in on women who were within recorded history that have the gift of vision. Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene. Anna, the Prophetess. Esther. Ruth. Mother Eve. I then thought about the women who have directly influenced my life because of their great spiritual connection with Deity. Through them, I have learned what it means to develop a relationship with God, and what it means to be in tune.

Arguably, one of the most important women of all time was Mother Eve. You may be familiar with the story:

God creates Adam and Eve, places them in a garden called Eden, and gives them several things to think about, including reproduction, taking care of the garden, and “DO NOT EAT THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL. Because if you do, you’ll die.” That definitely is not a direct quote; however, they got the message. Don’t eat the fruit. Or we’ll die. The story continues; Adam and Eve enjoying living in the Garden, often receiving visits from the Big Man Himself. He taught them how to live and how to love; however, in their innocence, Adam and Eve didn’t know the difference between sorrow and happiness, pain and pleasure, (spiritual) light and darkness. Fundamentally, they knew it was good to follow the guidelines God had given them, but they didn’t really understand why. They knew no evil, so they couldn’t truly understand righteousness. The story continues; one day, Eve is in the Garden doing whatever it was that she did there, and Lucifer (or Satan, or the serpent, or snake, whatever you prefer to call him) appears and tries to convince her to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Legend has it that she falls for the serpent’s temptation, convinces Adam to eat some too, God finds out, and they get expelled from the Garden, where they become subject to pain, hurt, ailments, and death.

How morbid. Most of Christianity view the Fall of Adam and Eve to be the worst thing to happen in human history. If they (*cough* EVE) had not partaken of the fruit, life would be all happy, just sunshine and smiles all day long. However, in the Mormon church, it is a common belief that the Fall was an integral part of God’s plan for us, His plan that would allow us to come to this earth, receive a body, and learn right from wrong. It wouldn’t have been possible if Adam and Eve had remained in their innocence.

I don’t know about you, but I think that there is MUCH more to this story than meets the eye. According to the King James account, God asks Adam, “Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? and the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Adam completely blames Eve for everything that happened. This doesn’t seem right to me, somehow.

I think that when Adam and Eve were in the Garden, they counseled together on many things, including the obedience of God’s instructions. He told them to “multiply and replenish the earth,” which nowadays means “get busy making a family.” He also instructed them to not eat of the Tree. The way that I understand it is those two commandments were mutually exclusive; in order to start a family, they had to KNOW how to do that, and because they lived in a state of innocence, they didn’t know, so they would have to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in order to learn. I believe that the decision to partake of the fruit came after much counsel, discussion, prayer, and contemplation. I believe, even though it isn’t mentioned anywhere, that Eve received guidance from her Mother in Heaven. Eve was to become the Mother of All Living. How could she have done that without guidance from the feminine divine? I believe that Heavenly Mother played a vital and essential part in Eve and Adam’s decision to partake of the fruit. They had knowledge of the plan, and they were willing to make the choice to learn to start a family.

I will admit, it is REALLY REALLY hard for me to buy the whole Adam and Eve story 100%. Why did there have to be a tree? Why did they eat some fruit and then magically know the difference between right and wrong? There are so, SO many questions I have about their lives, and quite frankly, while I was a missionary, this part was SO HARD for me to teach people.

But, what I do know is that there is reason in all things, and I feel a very deep connection to my Mother Eve. She truly is the Mother of All Living. She is divine, and she knew that. She embraced the femininity inside herself and because of that, was able to pave the way for her posterity. I know that she had a special connection to God, and that They loved her very, very much. They trusted her to do what They asked, and in return, she has become a blessing to all those that wish to learn from her example.

Happy Women’s History Month, everyone. Take a minute to celebrate the wonderful women around you. :)

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Wait. What do you mean, you’re a Mormon Feminist?

So, if you read last week’s post, you are aware that I affiliate with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I’m a MORMON! If you are an American and you are reading this right now, chances are that you have encountered at least one of us Mormons in your lifetime. I sincerely hope that that was a good experience for you.

A lot of the time, I feel like Mormons have a bad image in most people’s minds, like being associated with the word “Mormon” automatically makes me a crazy woman who believes in shiny gold plates hiding in the mountains, worshiping purple socks, and having oodles and bunches of husbands. Sounds like a great time, right? Well, I personally don’t worship purple socks, nor will I ever, EVER have more than one husband. The idea of polygamy absolutely sickens me. It makes me very sad that members of the early Mormon church practiced polygamy. Fortunately, the policy has changed and now we practice normal marriages, but I digress. But as for shiny golden plates, we actually do believe in those. For the full low-down on Mormons, visit this website, mormon.org. It will tell you everything that you need to know. :)

But, what I really want you to know is that mostly, Mormons are just normal people, trying to live normal lives. We strive to follow Jesus Christ and the example that He set of love, service, and charity. Now remember, people are imperfect. Perfectly flawed. We all make mistakes, and I know that even I have not practiced what I believe in on several occasions. Luckily, we can move past the mistakes we make and try harder to do what Jesus would do next time. So the next time you meet a Mormon, I hope that you have a great experience of love and light, because mostly, that is how Mormons are.

So, what does it mean to be a Mormon feminist? Aren’t Mormon woman supposed to stay at home, make lots of babies and lots of casseroles, do lots of cleaning, and lots of lovely housewife-y things? You might think so. However, the diversity of women within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is one of the most beautiful things, and it is the celebration of this diversity that makes up the essence of Mormon feminism.

We believe that all women are daughters of God and that within them, is the potential to become a truly divine woman. We believe that all men are sons of God, and that they have the same potential to become godly. As Mormons, not only do we believe in God the Eternal Father, but we also believe in God the Eternal Mother. We believe that God is Man and Woman together, that They are co-creators in all things. Unfortunately, this concept isn’t really talked about in church settings very much, but it has been made known to us through a process called revelation that there is, in fact, a Heavenly Mother. For whatever reason, we do not speak of her in such normal terms. I personally think that this is really sad. I cannot wait for the day when I get to learn more about my Heavenly Mother, who She is, how She makes Herself known in my daily life. There have been some occasions in which I have felt Her presence, but they are very rare. The most prominent of those experience was when I took the photo that is the header image for this blog. You might be wondering what the story of the beautiful tree is. Well, here you go.

Last October, I was living in a beautiful place in Japan called Morioka. This lovely city is nestled in a basin in the northern part of Japan in Iwate Prefecture. It was fall, and fall in Japan is absolutely glorious. The mountains turn brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and golden. They look as if they are ablaze when viewed through the smoke of the already-harvested burning rice fields. I was visiting a local park when I happened upon the most breathtaking tree I have ever seen in my life. The leaves were all shades of burgundy, gold, and sun-fire orange. The glow of the late-afternoon sunlight was filtered perfectly though the leaves, and the whole tree appeared to be alive and dancing in the beautiful sunshine. In that moment, I was transported somewhere outside myself, and I felt a love for nature like none other I had ever felt before. I had the most distinct motherly feeling come over me; it’s kind of hard to describe. I knew in that moment that my Heavenly Mother was making Herself known to me, that She was letting me feel some of the love that She had for me, and that I was witnessing one of her marvelous and perfect creations. I wish the picture that I took did justice to just how incredible this tree was; it was as if Heavenly Mother Herself was this very tree. So, I took the picture, but it was incredibly dull. So, my friend Alicia did a bit of Photoshopping to make the colors seem more real, and I think she did a fabulous job.

So yes, I believe in a Heavenly Father AND a Heavenly Mother. Because I have this belief and conviction in my heart, I believe that ALL women have the potential to become like Heavenly Mother. I know that She loves us all dearly, more than we can comprehend. And it is from this belief that my feminism stems.

I believe in celebrating all women, no matter their shape, size, appearance, race, culture, ethnicity, social status, work status, economic status, sexual orientation, or life choices. In my opinion, to be a Mormon feminist means to see women for who they really are: divine beings with divine potential. Every woman has value. There is nothing wrong with staying home and raising a family and loving them to pieces. I have no qualms with this. There is nothing wrong with being a career woman who leaves her children everyday to go to work. I have no qualms with this. There is nothing wrong with women who choose not to get married, or have children. I have no qualms with this. There is nothing wrong with women who live their lives differently than I do. I have no qualms with this. I believe in celebrating the diversity of women all over the world.

The popular weblog I am a Mormon Feminist details the following: “A Mormon feminist celebrates the diversity of all Mormon women,” and I would go as far as to say ALL WOMEN. “As daughters of God, we are unique individuals whose gifts are precious, and our voices matter. As children of God we seek to highlight the diversity of Mormon thought while striving to speak out against oppression, violence and other harms contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As women committed to the heritage of our faith, we advocate for understanding and sisterhood while appreciating our varied perspectives and diverse gifts.”

So, there you have it. A Mormon feminist is one who celebrates the incredibly beautiful diversity of women. And yes, this is who I am and yes, this is who I want to be.

So, you think you’re NOT a feminist?

Feminism. FEMINISM. Women for women. MEN for women. People fighting for the cause of PEOPLE.

In today’s day and age, the word feminism is used in lots of different ways. It can be viewed as a “dirty” word. But it can also be hugely empowering.

What do you think feminism means? What image do you have in your head about what it means to be a feminist? I have some friends that hear the word feminism and automatically think of super-butch lesbians with short haircuts marching topless down city streets picketing for the cause of women. I know some people who think that people who are feminists think that WOMEN ARE BETTER THAN MEN, GOSH DANG IT, LET’S LET THEM TRAMPLE MEN!!

Really? C’mon guys. That is NOT what feminism is.

But, what does the word ACTUALLY mean? Let’s take a look.

Google thinks that feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

According to Mirriam-Webster, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

Urban Dictionary says that feminism is the belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. These people can be either male or female human beings, although the ideology is commonly (and perhaps falsely) associated mainly with women.

Hmmm. That’s interesting. Feminism is NOT the notion that women are better than men. Feminists aren’t JUST super-butch topless lesbians. Feminism is the concept of GENDER EQUALITY. Feminism is the notion that men and women ARE EQUAL, and were created EQUAL. A feminist is someone who believes in having gender equality be an actual thing. A feminist doesn’t HAVE to be a woman; in fact, the biggest feminist I know personally is none other than my loving father.

I don’t know about you, but in my book feminism = HUMANITY.

So, I don’t think you were wondering whether or not I am a feminist, but in case you WERE wondering, YES! I am a feminist. With every fiber of my being, I BELIEVE THAT ALL HUMANS WERE CREATED EQUAL!

I come from a very religious background. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or as everyone knows us, the Mormon church. I was born into a Mormon family, but we were very nontraditional (and still are, for that matter). Yes, we attended church on a regular basis, yes, we donated 1/10th of our money to the church as a tithe, no, we didn’t drink coffee or alcohol or tea (except for herbal tea). In many ways, we were very traditional; however, my mother was not a stay-at-home mom, like women in the Mormon church are encouraged to be. My parents both worked several jobs at the same time in order to provide life for my older brother and I. My mother worked her butt off EVERY DAY (and still does). Both of my parents taught me the value of hard work. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents taught me to be a power-house woman, and that I could achieve ANYTHING that I put my mind to. I was raised to understand that I am EQUAL to men. I have the capacity to do the things that they do, and that I am just as intelligent, just as qualified, just as good as the men around me. My parents are so wonderful.

Meanwhile at church, I was taught that a woman’s “role” is to stay home and take care of and raise the children while the man was out working hard to provide for them. I was taught that a woman’s rightful place was within the walls of a home and that the most influence she could have in life would be on her children. Whenever I would hear this in church, I would think to myself, “But, my Momma works every day. She provides for me too. She doesn’t have to stay home in order to take care of me. She can work just like Daddy can.” From a very young age, I remember being aware of the gender-based injustices that were prevalent within the Mormon church.

As I have grown up, I have become even more aware of gender inequality, and not just within the context of my religious affiliation. Everywhere I look, I can see it; within the work-force, at school, among my friends, among my colleagues. There are little inequalities within my own life that happen every single day, and to be quite frank, it makes me very sad.

You might be wondering what the point of all of this is. Honestly, I’m not sure I even know. However, I know that I am passionate enough about this subject to write about it every week. I know that I want to help people understand why it’s necessary to have gender equality. Feminism isn’t a dirty word, and I want to help people understand what it really, truly means, as a concept in it’s most basic form: equality. Love. Respect. Recognition.

To me, that’s what it’s all about. :)