Another feminist

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wonderingcurrent
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Another feminist

Post by wonderingcurrent » 18 Nov 2011, 00:13

Hi, I am another feminist here, just trying to find support. I stumbled upon Mormon Stories from FMH, and then stumbled upon Stay LDS, I think this was a direct blessing from God.

Hmm, Its late and I'm tired, so I am going to try to keep this short. Well attempt actually. Anyway, I come here with a problem with Patriarchy. After mingling around and reading some of the posts, even commenting, I seem to come away with some idea of how people have stayed LDS while being a feminist. It is hard though right now to be at peace with patriarchy and I don't know if I ever will.

I am only 22, and I am about to enter the Temple for the first time, before I marry my lovely fiance, who is a slight feminist and supports me (though sometimes I feel I am alone, he at times surprises me to show me I'm not), in my question of patriarchy for he questions it too (though not to the degree I do).

I would love input from those who can about this topic, of attending the Temple and just trying not to be ill, or even cry (which I am certain I may do, when asked to cover my face with a viel), and how you have attempted to live with this where you can and just chuck it where you have to.

I mean what do I do? Do I disregard callings? Attend Church only for sacrament (because isn't that what they ask in the Temple recommend interview anyway, "Do you strive to attend sacrament meetings?" Maybe I heard that wrong), then go home? If you can remember, how have you, or how are you making peace with patriarchy? Tips may help. I have only been a self-declared feminist for a year and a few months (as I have put down elsewhere on this forum).

I started by frequenting FMH and then found LDS WAVE, then the Exponent II, then obviously Mormon Stories, then I found Daughters of Mormonism, so I am slowly building my network. Wanted to build it here to. I look forward to many good discussions.

Anyway, That is me and my main problem.

Wondering Current
If you have questions about what I said above, if you do not see any solutions or questions, if you do not see how this relates to staying LDS, then please send me a question, publicly or through pm. If you are confused simply let me know.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Another feminist

Post by hawkgrrrl » 18 Nov 2011, 01:30

Tough questions. Here's what I will share. The temple has gotten better over time with regard to women, but let's be honest, it's still not perfect! Well meaning octogenarians have made the progress they can fathom; even in my lifetime (I'm in my 40s), that progress is pretty big. It's hard for them to make changes to the temple because it wasn't even written down for like 30 years, so there is a strong reverence for it but a lack of concrete, shared understanding. They don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and it is completely open to interpretation, so one person's bathwater is another person's baby. There's no "temple dictionary" that tells you exactly how to interpret it.

I read a book I really enjoyed called Mysteries of Godliness that gives a big history lesson on the temple. Warning: I've heard this was faith demoting for some, especially who hadn't studied much about the history of the temple or didn't know the Masonic connections, and the author is no longer a practicing Mormon. However, I found the author to be respectful and pretty optimistic about the temple. I'll past a link in here to my own Goodreads review of the book in which I recap some of the fascinating tidbits. Frankly, my recap is almost as good as the book, if I do say so myself!
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/35186396

Generally speaking, here are some things I like about the temple. The temple is a good symbolic description of "the Hero's Journey" (Joseph Campbell), and takes each initiate through a personal progressive journey toward going back to God. There's a lot to reflect about on the way. I've grown to like the symbols. Many people like the egalitarianism, that everyone is dressed alike and there are no rich or poor, even age differences seem to smooth away.

While there are many elements that are sexist holdouts, there are also some that are very progressive and equalizing for women. I'll leave it at that and PM you. Best wishes to you on your wedding!

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Another feminist

Post by Brian Johnston » 18 Nov 2011, 07:01

Welcome to our community!

Marriage is a big milestone in life. So is going through the temple endowment (in Mormon culture). It's kind of a shame that for a lot of women those are both crammed into such a frenzied period of time. It doesn't leave a lot of time to mentally, emotionally and spiritually process it all.

My recommendation for dealing with the immediate issue at hand is to just go through it all and try to ignore the parts that are upsetting. Don't look at them as being as literal and large as we build them up to be on the surface. Enjoy your wedding day. Enjoy being with all your family and celebrating this big event. Enjoy the moment (the parts that are important to you). Perhaps it would be helpful to mentally put the temple into it's cultural context -- it's largely a 19th century religious passion play, created in a much different cultural context before so many advances were made in regard to women in our society. Back in it's own time, it was actually pretty progressive in a lot of ways, in relative terms.

Perhaps view yourself as an actor in a play. You can play a temporary role for the benefit of an audience, but you still are who you really are when the "makeup" and "costumes" come off when the curtain closes. This doesn't work in the long run for dealing with the temple as a potential part of your religious life. But it might work temporarily so that this aspect of our religious culture doesn't upset your special day too much.

My personal view is that the temple is 100% symbolic. And if it is symbolic, that means I am free to interpret it and make meaning however I choose. There really isn't a wrong answer, only perspectives that have value or that do not have value for me. You can decide in the long run what to do with that, and you can even change your mind at different points in your life.

I am also a big fan of the book Hawkgrrrl mentioned. But that is only helpful if you really want to dig in a deconstruct the temple from a historical perspective: how did it come about, and how has it evolved and changed over time. I found it incredibly helpful, but the symbolic nature of the temple doesn't bother me. It might not be a good process if you want to retain a more literal view of it (which is probably the most common in the LDS Church).
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

wonderingcurrent
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Re: Another feminist

Post by wonderingcurrent » 18 Nov 2011, 13:46

Those are great tips, the book however I may read, or just read your link (I like really good summaries). I don't think I can look at the Temple as symbolic because I have been taught these covenants are literal, and even though I have been taught its symbolic, and one of the temple prep lessons is on symbolism I find the talk about the symbolism lacking. Of course I also find the symbolism patriarchal. I guess focusing on those parts which are empowering to me, maybe will get me through the temple.

Please, please comment more. I like to hear comments, but only if you are comfortable talking abut it. If you are uncomfortable that is fine, I totally understand. Or PM me. Would love to hear more thoughts.
If you have questions about what I said above, if you do not see any solutions or questions, if you do not see how this relates to staying LDS, then please send me a question, publicly or through pm. If you are confused simply let me know.

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Another feminist

Post by Brian Johnston » 18 Nov 2011, 13:56

It's OK in our community to also look at something like the temple and the ordinances as literal and literally required for blessings. I just wanted to throw that out there since you are new, and the first two responses had views in the metaphorical direction.

Nobody here really has the only-true, new, correct answers to these questions. We mostly try to focus on what works and doesn't work for us.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Another feminist

Post by Brian Johnston » 18 Nov 2011, 14:00

Does anyone know of books or articles, perhaps from feminist authors, that do not deconstruct the temple ordinances and history in order to resolve these types of problems? I think I will contact some friends who might be more familiar with that type of literature.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Another feminist

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Nov 2011, 14:52

First, welcome. I think you'll find you aren't alone (or even close to it) being a feminist here. In fact, I think that's an understatement. :clap:
We mostly try to focus on what works and doesn't work for us.


That is the short answer for me when it comes to the temple. I really don't give a large rodent's hairy hindquarters exactly how much of the ritual an individual takes as literal or symbolic. I mean that. It can be 100% symbolic for Brian and 100% literal for a friend in my ward. I don't care.

When we talked about the Old Testament in Seminary this year, I told the students very clearly that I don't care if they look at it as a literal history, a bunch of mythological stories or a combination of the two - as long as they study it and come up with what works and has meaning for them as individuals. That's how I view the temple. Whatever works to give you meaning, even if that includes elements of "I really hope that changes in my lifetime" for you.

Frankly, enough things have changed in my own lifetime that I don't feel it is wrong or "apostate" in any way to hope other things change. I'm fine with change, and I have liked almost every change I have seen in the 27 years I've been attending. (Really, I only dislike one - but I think I understand and can appreciate why that one was changed, even though I would prefer that it hadn't.)
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

wonderingcurrent
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Re: Another feminist

Post by wonderingcurrent » 18 Nov 2011, 17:26

May have to make on thing clear, I take the Temple journey through the different rooms as symbolic, the words as literal to me though, the viel as symbolic of something that is hidden, I can't shake that out of my head, and it really hurts on so many levels to me, it reminds me of 1) Women's power is largely unknown, 2) Heavenly Mother is hidden, so women will be hidden too (why I hate why women wear it, I don't mind covering the hair so much, as covering the face). Honestly I've read somewhere one woman's thoughts and it was beautiful I just don't remember it, so I really guess that for me, that wont' get me through it.

Which I know you say is fine, which I get. I mean is it wrong then that the Viel is used to cover the face, if it is a symbolism of that? I don't know, but the fact that its largely explained as modesty (when I am already covered from neck to toe), drives me insane. Hmm, more questions, this time about men and the temple clothing they wear, do they cover their heads? If so it may make me feel a bit better. My problem is the vieling of the face, not necessarily the covering of the head. For Jesus per Jewish law covered his head, Orthodox Jewish men cover their head at all times as a respect for God. So if men cover their head in the Temple (of this I am unsure of), I wouldn't mind it so much. (Yet still mind covering my face, I also have an extremely sensitive face, sometimes even kisses on the cheek are just too much its that sensitive, that just will probably exacerbate the problem).
If you have questions about what I said above, if you do not see any solutions or questions, if you do not see how this relates to staying LDS, then please send me a question, publicly or through pm. If you are confused simply let me know.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Another feminist

Post by hawkgrrrl » 18 Nov 2011, 22:40

On the veil, I've never heard anyone say it was related to modesty. Both men & women have heads covered, but women veil faces only at a specific time, then they unveil them. There is no explanation given as to why, so if anyone says they know, they are making it up. The veils are see through. In context of what is happening, it does seem as though women are being more removed from god, which doesn't sit well with me. I sometimes use it as a way to get 3-5 minutes of shut eye before the next stage of the endowment. ;)

Given the sexist statements of past leaders, I do think this stuff is probably just tenacious sexism. It's hard for leaders to change it if 1) they aren't affected by it personally, 2) it's become a tradition for them after decades of the same thing, and 3) they don't know whether it has a divine origin or not.

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wayfarer
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Re: Another feminist

Post by wayfarer » 19 Nov 2011, 06:09

hawkgrrrl wrote:On the veil, I've never heard anyone say it was related to modesty. Both men & women have heads covered, but women veil faces only at a specific time, then they unveil them. There is no explanation given as to why, so if anyone says they know, they are making it up. The veils are see through. In context of what is happening, it does seem as though women are being more removed from god, which doesn't sit well with me. I sometimes use it as a way to get 3-5 minutes of shut eye before the next stage of the endowment. ;)

Given the sexist statements of past leaders, I do think this stuff is probably just tenacious sexism. It's hard for leaders to change it if 1) they aren't affected by it personally, 2) it's become a tradition for them after decades of the same thing, and 3) they don't know whether it has a divine origin or not.
in my humble opinion, covering is a cultural artifact. one by one, veeeeeerrrrry slowly, these are being removed....
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
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