The Feminist Mormon Housewives

While everyone is obsessing with mommy bloggers who cook organic roasted squash for their babies, I’m over here watching and reading (for years now), the Feminist Mormon Housewives. I don’t remember where I first heard of them, but I joined their secret Facebook group and slowly started learning that they were just like me, except they decided to stay in the church and change it from the inside. For this, I applaud them. They are a brave group of women. Many of their experiences with doctrine have been similar to mine and their questions have been similar to the ones I raised.

“Why do we have modesty doctrines and guidelines?”

“What if a woman doesn’t want to raise children? Is she less of a woman?”

“Is a woman’s only role to bear children? Why not?”

“What is this patriarchal world we’re all living in and how did it get this controlling?”

As a young woman, I was drawn to Mormonism. Quite a few times, I almost made the leap and converted, but something held me back. Perhaps it was my parents’ voice saying, “No, they’re a cult.” (I don’t consider them a cult anymore than I would consider Evangelical Christianity as a whole a cult. Mainstream Mormonism is vastly different than Fundamentalist Mormonism, which is the most restrictive, and I’ll be honest, cult is a harsh term. Patriarchal religion is maybe the safest term for Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity, though it might not capture the complexities quite as well as a term like cult. And yes, both movements do have cult-like traits.)

Despite my parents not wanting me to join the Mormon church, I went to every Mormon dance I could in high school with my Mormon friends. I went to “Seminary” with them on a weekday before school. I sang with my Honor Choir in a Mormon church. I even dated young Mormon boys.

When I first entered Master’s Commission the appeal was simple: they based Master’s Commission’s rules on the Mormon missionary movement. No dating, limited communication with family and friends from back home, strict dress code, and a focus on purity, relationship with Christ, and evangelizing. Okay, okay…maybe Mormon missionaries do cult-like rituals when they sign up for the mission field.

Regardless, the new Mormon feminism is fascinating. There are thousands of women who are questioning the oppressive traditions of their church, wearing pants to church, and thinking like, well…feminists. I can’t explain how complex it all is without giving away some very private conversations and people’s identities, so for now I’ll let you explore if you’re interested.

Here’s their new campaign, called I’m a Mormon feminist where they feature stories of women: http://mormonfeminist.org/

Here’s their blog, which began in 2004. You can learn quite a bit about them here: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FeministMormonHousewives

Or read this piece in the Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/05/women-hope-for-mormon-spring/kSchzSqQDRRKAQtvfi8hhL/story.html

Here in Salon magazine: http://www.salon.com/2012/04/20/the_rise_of_the_mormon_feminist_housewife/

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Lisa Kerr

Lisa is a writer, editor and humorist who has been featured on the Huffington Post, Philly.com, New York magazine, and BreakThru Radio. Find more of her at: thelisakerr.com.