Mormon Male Privilege and How to Make Apparent Gender Disparity in the Church

Many people are concerned with a very basic question right now: Why do some women feel unequal in the church? A few years ago I wrote a post for LDS WAVE about why I feel unequal. While this was not an exhaustive list, it made apparent many of the gender disparities that we often take for granted.

Another way to make inequality apparent is to talk about privilege. In academia there is a lot of literature on male privilege and white privilege—those unacknowledged advantages that men and majority ethnicities gain from women’s and minorities’ disadvantages. An important step in lessening, mitigating and ending this discrimination is acknowledging it. It is sometimes easier to see that others have different gender roles or even that women have some disadvantages. The truly difficult thing to recognize is the concomitant truth: what aspects of being male are advantageous?

Do not despair, this is not an attack on men. Rather it is a mental exercise in trying to see those aspects of gender inequality that are normally hidden in our religious culture. Men (and women alike) are taught not to recognize our privileges or as Dr. Peggy McIntosh puts it the “invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. [Male] privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks” (McIntosh 1988). It is not the fault of the holder of these privileges that he has them. However, it is our moral and ethical duty to learn to recognize, mitigate and lessen them for greater religious gender equality.

I decided to try to identify some of the daily effects of these advantages in order to answer the question: What is it like to have Mormon male privilege? (Many of these points have corollaries in literature on white and male privilege).

As a Mormon Male:

  1. My odds of receiving a leadership calling compared to females of my same age, experience and spirituality are skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the calling, the larger the odds are skewed.
  2. My odds of being asked to speak at church functions compared to females of my same age, experience and spirituality are skewed in my favor. The larger the forum, the more my odds are skewed.
  3. My church leaders are people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the calling, the more this is true.
  4. When I ask to “see the person in charge,” odds are that I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
  5. I can go home from most leadership meetings feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
  6. I can be pretty sure that a disagreement with a woman is more likely to jeopardize her chances for advancement in leadership positions and her reputation as a good Mormon than it will jeopardize mine.
  7. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my gender on trial. If I fall short as a missionary, gospel doctrine teacher, or general conference speaker I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.
  8. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my gender.
  9. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my gender is not the problem.
  10. I am never asked to speak for or represent “the” perspective of all the people of my gender.
  11. I can watch general conference and see people of my gender widely represented in visage and voice. I can see many diverse examples of different career choices, personalities and representations of my own gender in leadership positions.
  12. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my gender present, more than a single woman in a group of men would be heard. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group where she is the only member of her gender more than women can be indifferent to the solitary voice of a male.
  13. I can participate in meetings and share my opinions without colleagues suspecting that I am only here to represent my gender.
  14. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of the opposite gender and not feel any penalty for such oblivion more than women can ignore male patterns of behavior and communication.
  15. I can critique the church and talk about how I fear its policies without being seen as much of a cultural outsider as women who have the same thoughts.
  16. If I declare there is a gender issue at hand, or there isn’t a gender issue at hand, my gender will lend me more credibility for either position than a woman will have. I can worry about sexism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
  17. I can choose to ignore developments in women’s writing and activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
  18. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the opinions, perspectives and powers of people of the opposite gender.
  19. I do not have to educate my sons to be aware of systemic sexism for their own daily physical protection and positive child development.
  20. I can be pretty sure that my son’s teachers and leaders will tolerate them as valuable members of society whose voices should be taken seriously; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitude toward their gender.
  21. When I study the history of my church I am shown that largely people of my gender made it happen.
  22. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to pursue interests, goals and ambitions beyond parenthood more often than my sisters.
  23. I can be pretty sure of finding people in my church community who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps professionally.
  24. I can think of many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my gender would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
  25. I can drive poorly, be late to a meeting, cry and mismanage my financial affairs without it reflecting on my gender.
  26. I can be sure that my children will be taught materials that testify about the works, words, existence and deification of people of my own gender.
  27. I can find entire church manuals, lessons, talks, religious texts and historical scholarship which give attention only to people of my gender.
  28. I can expect figurative language and imagery in most of our religious texts and arts to testify to the experiences of my gender.
  29. If I am emotional or upset chances are that it will be attributed to the problem I am facing rather than my gender.
  30. I can be pretty certain that my opinions will be taken seriously and not assumed that I am over exaggerating.
  31. I can be sure that if I need marital help or advice from my church leaders that they will be someone of my own gender and more inclined to understand my life experiences than my wife’s.
  32. I can be pretty sure that no one will ever go over my head to speak to my wife about an issue or ask permission of my wife for something pertaining to my life.
  33. If my day, week or year is going badly, I do not need to ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had gender overtones.
  34. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of dismissal or condescension owing to my gender.
  35. I will never have to confess sexual sins to someone of the opposite sex. I will never have to sit in a disciplinary council and discuss sexual matters with an all-female court. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment and even sexual abuse in my church community than my female counterparts. I am far more likely to be asked about masturbation from a religious leader.
  36. As a child, chances are that I was not told that I am responsible for someone else’s sexual urges or impure thoughts based on what I wore or what I looked like.
  37. Chances are I was not taught about sex and chastity from someone of the opposite gender.
  38. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability or virtue.
  39. My garments are much more similar to regular male underwear than female garments are to regular women’s underwear. I will never have to negotiate wearing garments and menstruating, recovering from childbirth and nursing and risk being denied access to sacred ordinances based on a member of the opposite gender thinking I’m doing so incorrectly. I will never have someone of the opposite sex ask me about my underwear habits on a regular basis for temple recommend interviews.
  40. Chances are that if I work and provide for my family I will never be called selfish or a bad father.
  41. Chances are if I do the same exact parental tasks as a woman I will receive praise for them and told that I am a good father more than she will receive praise for everyday parental tasks and told that she is a good mother.
  42. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. Chances are I never had youth activities devoted to grooming habits, style or trying on tuxedos for my future wedding. Chances are I never had youth activities teaching me how to care for my wife’s clothing.
  43. Chances are no one comments about my clothing or body in leadership conversations and I am less likely to be scrutinized and turned away from a dance or program because of my clothing.
  44. If I am not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore compared to my female counterparts. Chances are I haven’t been told that it is my duty to try to look more attractive to be more marriageable or a better missionary.
  45. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin and attractive than my female counterparts. If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. I probably have less social pressure to alter my body in extreme ways (weight loss, cosmetic surgery, hair color, etc.) in order to be seen as attractive as women do. Whether or not I am attractive is not as closely aligned with whether or not I am intelligent, competent and worthwhile as it is for women.
  46. I can wear nice clothing similar to what I wear in my everyday professional life to church. I can wear pants without any social repercussions.
  47. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch. I can be opinionated with no fear of being accused of trying to be like a female.
  48. I can desire to hold the priesthood, serve in leadership positions and expect respect and praise without being called power hungry.
  49. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.
  50. I can be confident that the ordinary language in all of my scriptural texts, church materials, manuals, talks and prayers will always include my sex, i.e., “All men are alike unto God.”
  51. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
  52. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
  53. I will never get fired from a church affiliated organization if I choose to have children.
  54. Chances are that my mother, sisters and wife do more of the cooking and household labor and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks, including tasks for my own family like remembering birthdays, buying presents, sending cards, etc.
  55. Chances are my mother, sisters and wife do most of the childrearing and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing.
  56. If it turns out that one of us needs to make education and career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are that my mothers, sisters, wife, myself and most of our social circle will assume the education and career sacrificed should be my wife’s.
  57. Chances are that I never had youth activities, lessons and/or advice from leaders about how to make personal sacrifices and support my wife in her educational and career goals.
  58. I am certain that I will be considered for positions, callings and jobs both within the church hierarchy and in the larger church-affiliated employment and that I will never be turned down based on my gender.
  59. I can assume that I will usually be addressed by the proper deferential title of my calling.
  60. I can be certain that when I want approval for callings, ideas and decisions in my calling that I will be communicating with someone in my own gender.
  61. I can be certain that most talks about my gender do not refer to my reproductive capacity.
  62. It is assumed that I will have interests and career goals outside of my family. I do not face any community recriminations or public sanctions for these.
  63. It is highly likely that most of my spiritual leaders and mentors are of my same gender. It is just as likely that I do not have many (if any) spiritual leaders or mentors of the opposite gender.
  64. I will have the opportunity for more prominent, prestigious and public roles in the church than my female counterparts.
  65. I can be pretty sure that women will never teach me about sex, how to be a good man, what my divine role is, how to fulfill it and how I should feel about it.
  66. As a child I received more funding for youth programs in affiliation with the scouting program and was allowed to do more elaborate, varied and skills based activities than my female counterparts.
  67. I am aware of the existence and role of the Heavenly Parent of my same gender, their position in the godhead and have some sense of my future role in the eternities.
  68. I can be certain that people of my gender provided input to official church declarations and proclamations.
  69. I can be certain that I will never be asked to obey or hearken unto my wife in religious ceremonies.
  70. All things being equal, it is assumed that my spiritual revelation and stewardship trumps that of my wife and female counterparts.
  71. I am allowed to pray in general conference, bless my children and handle church finances.
  72. I have the opportunity to become a deacon, teacher, priest, elder, bishop, stake president, area authority, apostle, member of the seventy and prophet that my female counterparts do not.
  73. I can hold the priesthood and pass that along to my sons.
  74. I can give blessings and heal others. When I say prayers of healing or give blessings what I say is generally accepted as God’s will. People grant the words I use authority and authenticity.
  75. When in a leadership position, people will ask my council, expect my input and even allow me to give them tasks which will shape the next months and years of their personal, family and community lives because they believe my suggestions are either inspired by God or are God’s direct counsel.
  76. I rarely seek approval or validation about my life choices from members of the opposite gender in my church community.
  77. I can be pretty sure that I can walk into any room or meeting in my church community and I will have more financial autonomy, decision making power and religious authority than anyone of the opposite gender.
  78. I preside over my family.
  79. I have the privilege of being unaware of my Mormon male privilege.
  80. ADDITIONAL POINTS ADDED BY COMMENTS: While I am single and looking for a future spouse, I will almost certainly have more women to choose from and pursue than the single women of a similar age and worthiness in my geographical area.
  81. I can be certain that there are people of my same gender conducting, presiding, speaking and sitting on the stand at all of my meetings.
  82. I will never be asked about achieving work/life balance.

Which of these privileges were you unaware of before you read through this list? What other privileges would you include to this list? Which of these privileges have been difficult, harmful or painful to you in your own life? Why do you think most people (male and female) are unaware of these privileges? What do you think are some strategies to make these privileges recognized and acknowledged so that they can be mitigated, lessened and ended?

Please comment below and spread the word. Let’s get the conversation focused on those problems that are often difficult to see rather than the symbolic representation of just one of these privileges (wearing pants to church #46).



  1. Wow. That list feels pretty comprehensive to me. Thank you for taking the time to prepare it.

    Now I’m just trying to figure out how to get my bishopric to read the whole thing. Maybe I will organize it under topical headings.

  2. This is awesome, Whoa-man! I mean, depressing, but so well thought out. I’m going to bookmark it and refer to it forever when dismissive people say stuff like “You feminists just want to sit on the stand.”

      • #81 And when I teach in Primary, everyone on the stand, and often everyone who speaks, is of the opposite gender. But we don’t care. We male primary teachers see them as fellow citizens in the gospel, not so much as people of another gender. We love them and respect them in their positions, presiding over us in our callings.

        Work/life balance of often addressed in PH meetings.

      • In other words, Joe, “it happened to me, therefore it happens equally to men and women”. Riiiiiiight. As a man, I rarely heard this in church. My wife heard it often. But let’s go ahead and drop this one from the list… Go ahead and start at one and try to refute all of them. Some could be argued with, but that doesn’t invalidate the long list that is spot on.

  3. I think sharing this list with Male acquaintances would be much more productive than wearing pants to Sacrament meeting. Thank you for these good reminders.

  4. On the other hand. Women don’t have to have the Melchizedek Priesthood to get into the Temple, women aren’t pressured as much to go on missions, teen girls can just come to Church and not have to do anything with the sacrament, teen girls aren’t interviewed with a worthiness interview just to get advanced in the priesthood. if you stand up to your leaders in the Church you bet your bottom dollar you aren’t considered for callings, there is even a part in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 about it, even questioning your ability to use the priesthood. FWIW, Mary N. Cook gave the opening prayer at the Christmas Devotional a few weeks back. Women don’t have it easy in the Church but neither do guys which is why they are a lot fewer men in the Church and Church in general.

    • I doubt there are any women who participate in this forum who would deny that women have privileges, too. That there are things about how men in the church are treated that are problematic and should be changed. I know men who have been hurt in very real ways by the gendered expectations of Mormonism and of our larger society. That said, to respond to a post like this by immediately pointing to the ways women have it good is to ignore deeply problematic realities, to dismiss the harm done by male privilege while implicitly suggesting women stop complaining because the men have some hard things to deal with, too. Which frankly is just not all that productive.

      • My reading of Whizzbang’s comment was NOT that they were suggesting women stop complaining–where does it say that. But rather to view the entire picture, and put this list into context of the overall reality.

        Clearly a lot of work went into this thoughtful list. However, it leaves one with the impression that life for men is so wonderful! That’s not the whole story, either

    • Just with regards to this one: teen girls aren’t interviewed with a worthiness interview just to get advanced in the priesthood

      Teen girls are interviewed on the same schedule as boys. This happens to be one area of equality. Unequal is the fact that if girls pass these interviews, they are not given any increasing responsibilities in the church. Also unequal, during these interviews, the Church Handbook of Instruction (CHI) instructs bishoprics to focus, in the case of teen boys, on the boys’ personal actions and responsibilities, and they do not question boys about how their actions affect other people like young women. In the case of girls, the CHI instructs bishoprics to spend time during these one-on-one interviews discussing with the young women how they are doing at supporting young men as potential missionaries. I can’t think of a better way to teach a girl that she is unneeded and powerless.

      • That’s amazing. It’s like they train girls to support guys from day one. Very disappointing. It’s like girls are perpetually playing ‘Emma Smith’ roles.

      • In a recent Friend magazine, there was a two-page spread on what to look forward to about turning twelve. One side was for boys, one for girls. The first item on the boys’ side, of course, was preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. The first item on the girls’ side? MAKING NEW FRIENDS. I have never felt like not having the Priesthood held me back in my spiritual progression, because I have a personal testimony that I can be an important and powerful servant of the Lord. But I think it is extremely inappropriate to point that role out, prominently and obviously, for young men and not for young women.

  5. 16. If I declare there is a gender issue at hand, or there isn’t a gender issue at hand, my gender will lend me more credibility for either position than a woman will have. I can worry about sexism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

  6. 80. While I am single and looking for a future spouse, I will almost certainly have more women to choose from and pursue than the single women of a similar age and worthiness in my geographical area.

  7. Much of this is simply untrue due to false assumptions. For example:

    1. There is an assumption here that a “prestigious” calling is one that is highly visible, but every priesthood leader knows that every calling is equally important – i.e., “can the eye say to the feet I have no need of thee?”

    2. Speaking assignments are skewed towards women in all wards and stakes simply because there are more active women in the church. This is true throughout the world.

    3. Again, the “prestigious” problem, and now this has added “powerful” into the mix…I believe from the context you are viewing these adjectives through the lens of the world. Who today would describe a priesthood leader as being “all-powerful” and in a “prestigious” calling? Not the case in the Lord’s church. Men and women work side by side on every ward council in the church.

    etc etc etc

    Recognize that in today’s church, women play an equal role, have an equal voice, etc. There is a rising generation of priesthood leaders in particular, that recognize the partnership of men and women together in the Lord’s work.

    • Who gets final say in what happens in a ward? The bishop who is always male. Who gets final say what happens in a stake? The stake president who is always male. And all the way up. Being consulted is not the same as having the power to make decisions for an organization. The ability to make decisions for an organization is power, power that women do not have the church. They may serve on councils (but male leaders can also exclude them with no repercussions) but they never have final say in what happens, even in their own organization. A Relief Society president must get permission from the bishop before moving forward. He however, does not need to do the same thing.

      As for prestige, there are callings a ward can not fill and still function. You don’t need a chorister, you don’t need a person passing out programs, etc. To suggest that all callings are equal is absurd, since there are some that can go unfilled without the ward falling apart and some that cannot. There is also respect afforded to certain callings. If I get up an offer an opinion, then the bishop gets up and offers a different opinion, or tells the ward mine is wrong, who will they listen to? Probably not me.

      You need to recognize that many women do not feel that they have an equal voice in the church, and that there are man arguments against gender equality in the church. You telling us they don’t exist doesn’t change our experience of inequality, nor does it make those arguments go away.

      • A ward or branch may be created and continue to exist with a minimum number of active, tithe-paying priesthood holders. Local units don’t need to have women to exist.

        However, there can be 500 active tithe-paying female members and there won’t be a ward or branch created unless they can recruit a dozen men to fill all of those “non-prestigious” callings that define what, exactly, a ward/branch is.

    • And as for speaking assignments, you did not address the fact that once you hit higher than stake level, speakers are overwhelming male. If it is true that there are more women in the church, then it would stand to reason that more women would speak in General Conference. But since there are so few women in leadership positions, the speaking assignments past the stake level go to men. So your argument doesn’t hold up.

    • Thanks for bringing this up , Joe: Men and women work side by side on every ward council in the church.

      I don’t recall if the post mentioned that in the councils of the church, by design, men have the privilege of always outnumbering and outranking women. Also, your statement is not totally true. If he chooses, the bishop may include the RS president at priesthood council, but he is not required to.

      • One thing that I heard recently is that when anyone is called to a position within the church the souse is called as well. Our bishop was just released after serving for seven years and his wife was there every step of the way and I know her influence was felt in or ward. Whenever I have had a calling my first thoughts go to my wife and how I will help her with the kids and the house as well as serving the Lord. Each of us have responsibilities whether we recognize them or not. Our first calling, and most important, is being a child of God. I know bad experiences happen and people can feel alienated but most of the time it its not intended. I personally look up to the women of the church for they are the glue that holds us together. Even Emma questioned Joseph and asked him to pray to the Lord for the truth and he listened to the Lord. All injustices will be handled in the next life and our Father will compensate us for what we have done and suffered through at the hands of others. I try to focus on the first porticos and ordinances as well faith, repentance, baptism, and confirmation that grants us membership in the kingdom of God a well as rights to the spirit.

      • Dana, I appreciate your comment and your statement of respect. But I want to point out that when you make a kind comment about the women being the glue that holds the church together, you lump all women into one category – one that simply doesn’t fit. This is a small thing, but it’s the kind of thing that happens to women all the time in the Church. I appreciate the impulse to respect women, but I think you show more respect by acknowledging that we are a diverse group with diverse desires and needs and abilities.

    • “Men and women work side by side on every ward council in the church.”

      Except the men side is much larger than the women side. Look at any ward council, for example, to see what I mean.

    • I trouble with the “equal role, equal voice” statement. I haven’t been to a ward or stake where a woman was the bishop or stake president or quorum. How can it be “equal ” if the very decision makers are always male?

    • Joe, in response to your response of number one: look up the words to the children’s song “Our Bishop.” How are we not putting priesthood leaders up on a pedestal when we sing songs about how great our bishops are just for taking the time to talk to us? And what about “We thank thee Oh God for a Prophet??” We don’t teach our children any songs about thanking God for the primary president or Church’s general RS president. I think you are ignoring a very obvious idolization of men who are in authority.

    • Women lost any shreds of equality they might have had when Harold B. Lee stripped their control over Relief Society activities and finances. Period. Full-stop. Stop pretending it isn’t so.

    • I’ve got to say that I agree with Joe to a point. The words “prestige” and “power” are, I believe, not really what callings in the church are based on. Would you really be comfortable saying that you are working your way up to being relief society president or bishop (one of these “prestigious” callings)? I know I wouldn’t, and I don’t think most people would either. It really is a service organization different than worldly companies and communities. Anyway, it is supposed to be. As long as we call these callings prestigious, we are misunderstanding the purpose of the organization of the church.

  8. I’ve been hoping for a comprehensive list unpacking make privilege in the church. This is absolutely, depressingly, accurate. Thank you.

  9. I have the opportunity to begin exercising my divine role when I turn 12 which is given to all worthy males with very few exceptions. Women do not begin exercising their divine role until they are in their 20s or 30s and many women are never given the opportunity to exercise their divine role regardless of their personal worthiness.

    • This. Thisthisthisthisthis.

      Also: I do not have to wait on the agency of another person to make a lifetime commitment to me in order to begin exercising my divine role in the church. It is up to my agency alone.

      I am much more likely to have received frequent help, support, resources, praise, recognition, and honor for my achievements within the church, from the body of the church at large, from it’s programs and affiliations, and from both genders of parents, than females of my same age.

    • We all have a divine role and we can choose to exercise faith ay any time, without a calling. Sometimes the biggest makes are the ones that go unseen and unsung.

    • It’s actually “nurturing” that is our primary divine role. And that can begin at toddlerhood. With a young child hugging someone in pain. I can nurture all of God’s children including my own husband and children that I haven’t born personally, so in that regard I think this argument is not accurate, or too narrowly viewed. I’m not ashamed that I can easily love unconditionally and share that love with others. I think we fail to realized the HUGE impact that nurturing actually has on the world. I am raising the rising generation. My impact on the world will have just as much if not more persuasion as a bishop to his congregation, or a stake president to his stake. My children will be leaders and nurturers and shape the future wether or not I get worldly credit for it. Ladies, regardless of if we are seen as equal/ feel equal in the church we are shaping the world. I’m sorry if its not as clearly or immediately visible as our male counterparts, but the reality is still there. I’ve been offended a few times by men in this church even my own family members in regards to women & “seniority”, but I can have peace knowing that Heavenly Father is omniscient and he recognizes me, my efforts and ultimately my value, worth and work. And I believe that in my current and holiest calling as mother/nurturer I am helping him accomplish his greatest work& glory: [bringing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” And to call what I/we do anything less than divine is definitely offensive to the spirit and a prime key to the evil one’s plan.

      • Rachel, it’s awesome that you’re a fantastic mom, raising and nurturing your fantastic kids. I’m thrilled that you find so much joy and satisfaction and peace in that experience.

        I am probably never going to get the chance to be a mom. I’m told I should be okay with this, because I can nurture other people’s children and that’s just as good. But I ask you: would you be just as happy to be an aunt/cousin/Primary teacher as you are being a mom?

        And do you think that women who spend five hours a week on a Primary calling are working just as hard as you are being a 24-hour-a-day parent?

        I think that relegating the role of all women to ‘nurturing,’ and assuming that all nurturing is equally valuable and rewarding, is dismissive both to women who are not natural nurturers/never have the chance to nurture and women who give their whole bodies, minds, and souls to the raising of their kids.

  10. Let’s say I am a bishop and I agree with you, what is the best way to valorize this perspective given the current structure of the Church? I invite the Relief Society president to the priesthood executive council, but if I were to ask her to sit on the stand… well, imagine the scandal. I include the YW president in as many meetings as I can get away with, but she often doesn’t really want to be there. I invite single women to speak and frequently invite women to speak last during sacrament meeting. I acknowledge to YW and RS groups the unfortunate lack of women in the Book of Mormon and stress their often (more) important role in the Bible and Apocrypha (prophetesses, military leaders, etc.). I work hard to avoid gender bias, though I’m sure I’m not perfect on this score. What more could I do?

    • Thanks for your willingness to listen and help. The things that come to me first include encouraging inclusive language; i.e. changing men to people in scriptures. Do it yourself and when asking people to speak do the same thing. Maybe even address it over the pulpit. Include quotes from female leaders when you speak and encourage others to do the same. (Words of Wisdom, put out by LDS WAVE is a good resource)

      Allow women to hold their babies during blessings; encourage it if they don’t ask.

      Before you make a decision that will effect the entire ward, talk to all the female leaders.

      Address female leaders as President when talking to and about them.

      Encourage that a big deal be made when YW receive their Personal Progress awards; as much as the YM get for their Eagle Scout awards. More generally, if the YM or boys in Primary get recognition or ceremony, something equivalent should happen for the YW girls.

      Invite a female leader or member to address all male groups as male leaders address all female groups. Allow all female meetings to end without a man speaking; let women conduct their own meetings with a man having to close the meeting.

      The link Amelia listed will also be helpful.

    • Female auxiliary leaders need offices in ward building. Ward clerks have office space but women never do. As a former RS president in a very crowded building (made to hold two wards, four currently attending), I often had to fill out food order forms in crowded hallways. Consoling upset women was done in crowded halls or in chapels when a few moments could be found between sacrament meetings. Men often give lip service to the fact that we are competent in running many aspects of wards and stakes but are not legitimized with office space that would allow us to better fulfill our callings.

      • This idea had never occurred to me, but it would have been so helpful to me when I was Relief Society president! I think we become so used to how things are and have been that we (at least I don’t) seldom think of how things might work better if some changes were made.

      • Brilliant idea. I’ve never thought about an office for the RS President, but now that you’ve made the suggestion, I can’t get it out of my head!

      • Brilliant idea. It also clearly demonstrates just one of the small ways that the church only supports women with their words, not their actions.

    • Eugene, Thank you for such a perfect question and desire. I wish all our leaders were as willing to recognize, acknowledge and seek to change these privileges. The post linked by Deborah is a great example of ways leaders can better ameliorate some of these inequalities. WAVE is also working hard to create a book along the same lines. This should be completed some time this year and be a very handy guide for leaders and women alike. Keep your eyes open for it.

    • When we teach we need to use examples from or own lives. Women can be the positive influence in the lives of other women. All of us can be as brave and faithful and willing to sacrifice. Look at the sons of Helaman who gave the credit for their victories and faith to their mothers. Nephi said he had goodly parents. I am the man I am today because of my mother and father as well as all of the other men and women in the church that raised me.

  11. Thank you for your thorough work. It is a formidable list, and it’s not fully complete. It makes it more clear why so many women and men have just walked away, and it actually helps me to understand the peculiar mindset of so many who stay, who invest a lot of energy in not seeing anything on this list as a problem. It’s a sobering prospect to contemplate on a dismal evening.

  12. A major, heartbreaking privilege that I see is having every single special witness of Christ be of the male gender. To me, the most important role of our prophets is their call to act as a special witness of Christ to the members, and to testify of his perfect love and perfect understanding of all of our trials, sorrows, and afflictions. Many of my afflictions are uniquely female – what special witness have I, from the church or its leaders, that Christ truly knows and has borne the sorrows of women?

  13. […] fairly progressive, a college professor no less (and not at BYU.)  In this conclusion some of his Mormon Male Privilege (#16, #48, #82) was showing.  {Disclaimer: I do not even close to agree with everything in this […]

  14. Clearly a lot of work went into the compilation of this impressive list. The massiveness of the accomplishment makes it hard to choose what to focus on, but…

    The idea of using words like “favor” and “privilege” when it comes to bitterly demanding callings like being a bishop seems inaccurate. There is absolutely no benefit to being a bishop, and much, much sacrifice. In our case, the time involved derailed my husband’s career trajectory. Other families pay a much higher price involving costs to children, etc. Now someone will say that my husband was just incompetent to not delegate more, or that including women would increase the pool and lower his odds of being stuck with it. But whoever does the job, there is no privilege involved. It is a servant leadership model, not a kingship.

    Also, it is hard to sort out which of these supposed privileges stem from society at large, and which are unique to Mormondom. And it should be pointed out that in many cases, the inequities in society are ameliorated by the gospel and church members, including men. For example, society often equates money with power, so that the earner in home has more power, and more say over how money is spent. Whereas in the church, marriage is seen as a full and equal partnership, so that all money and work is shared, and the name on a paycheck is only a detail, with no extra rights.

    My husband served his mission in a predominantly Muslim country in which theoretically public schools are free, but there are costs for books and uniforms. Thus the rate of girls who are educated is lower in the general population. This is not true among church members, because of church teachings on the value of education for women, and because some male returned missionaries organized a fund to provide scholarships for LDS kids.

    So to see the actual picture, issues like that need to be factored in.

    • I’m sorry your husband and you felt no benefit whatsoever from his serving in a leadership role. But the fact that you felt no benefit does not make that universally true. My dad served in ward and stake leadership and a temple presidency for almost half of his life. All during my growing up years and all of my adulthood. He considered himself richly blessed by having that opportunity. So did my mom. So did I. Yes, there were things about it that were hard. Maybe he could have done something different professionally, but he was successful enough to care for all of us and to leave my mom well taken care of after his death. We didn’t have many opportunities for family vacations, which is too bad. But we had lots of family time together anyway.

      The greatest blessings he received were not about power or church governance. I do think that such issues are very important for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into here. I want to call attention here to the spiritual benefits. Of which there were many. For all of us, not just for Dad. It was a privilege, in my dad’s mind, to be able to serve. And he was richly rewarded by having many opportunities to serve that he otherwise would not have had. He had many opportunities to learn he otherwise would not have had. He built relationshis with many people he probably would not otherwise have known, people who loved him dearly and reached out to support him when he needed it and us as he was dying. And those things influenced all of our lives for good. Too often when Mormon feminists speak about male privilege in the church, about men having the positions of not only power but prestige, others accuse us of either being wrongly power hungry or of not understanding the nature of the roles we would like an equal opportunit to fill. Many of us, if not most, have been Mormon all our lives. Why the assumption that we do not understand the roles? The cost? We understand them perfectly well. We also understand that along with the costs there are many blessings and opportunities. Why is it wrong to want a chance at those blessings and opportunities? Not in a selfish way, but because we know we have the abilities and desire and because we love God and our fellow saints and want to serve?

      Again, I’m sorry your experience with your husband’s being bishop was nothing but burdensome. But that is far from the reality of everyone’s experience.

      One other small point: it may be your experience that the church has led to completely equal governance of the home and money shared by husband and wife. And yes, the church has in the last couple of decades begun speaking about husband and wife as equals. But the church also continues to speak about men else presiding in the home. And I know several women whose husbands interpret that to mean that their say is final and act on that understanding in many ways, including financial. And I sadly know at least one whose husband has justified his abuse with that logic. Does the church sanction abuse? Of course not. But it does teach men to think of themselves as the ones holding the power. Which does contribute to abusive situations. All of the many forms of male privilege identified here reify that idea–that it’s men who have power.

      • “Many of us, if not most, have been Mormon all our lives. Why the assumption that we do not understand the roles?”

        I am not assuming that. I am only stating that “privilege” is generally defined in terms of benefit to someone. Not in terms of sacrifice.

        But actually, a lot of lifelong members really do not know about callings until we have them. My husband had been a counselor in various bishoprics and served on high council, and still did not know what was involved. When I was RS president, a counselor in the bishopric came up to me with wide eyes and said that he just found out what I did when it came to welfare and funerals, and he was glad that I could help him. He really did not realize before then.

        “The cost? We understand them perfectly well.”

        You do? Wow. Then why do you need to experience it? Did you also know about college before experiencing it, childbirth before that? I only wish that I could be that smart.

        “Why is it wrong to want a chance at those blessings and opportunities? ”

        I never said it was. My only quibble is that I think it should NOT be framed as a privilege.

        Of course there were blessings. But blessings come when we put the Lord and other people first, and are willing to walk whatever path the Lord has set for us.

        Also, I have to say that our children really don’t know how hard it was for us. We tried to be positive and protect them from the downsides. And of course they weren’t there when we were having the best sex of our lives and it all stopped when someone called to say that their mom had died, could he handle the funeral even though she didn’t live in our ward. Or when he got in trouble at work for taking three straight days off to attend baptisms, a temple sealing, funerals, etc. Our children didn’t know that the reason we had beans and rice was not entirely to be trendy and use food storage, but also because we had paid for someone’s wisdom teeth extraction so they could go on a mission, something that church funds can’t be used for.

        I don’t have any problem at all with women being called into leadership if/when the Lord determines that is best. But if leaders are truly servants and on their knees as they make decisions it will likely not make a major change. And it’s not like the privilege of bishop leadership is anything like a king’s leadership in an absolute monarchy.

      • The nature of privilege is not that every element of it always benefits every individual who is generally allowed such privilege, but that, on the aggregate, both across the group that bears the privilege and across all privileges that an individual enjoys, it is a net positive. Sometimes a very, very large net positive.

        Only men being Bishops is not just a privilege of potential benefit to those who actually serve in the callings, but to all the men who interact and work with Bishops, and everyone who simply sees men in that position and can feel that their leadership always has that element of personal familiarity, that representation of their perspective.

      • Absolutely, Rune. I would just direct you back to the introduction to the list where “privilege” is not connoted in its colloquial sense, but rather the “invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. [Male] privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.” These things aren’t necessarily always good or even ever utilized, but they exist and are available to men if need be. As a bishop, for better or worse, your husband had more decision making power and access to resources (be the economic, political and/or social). Whether or not (and how) he utilized these “advantages” is not the point. That he has them, is.

      • Oh, I get it now. You thought I was accusing folks of “bitterly demanding” callings, with demanding being the verb?

        I was saying “bitterly demanding callings” with callings being a noun, and demanding an adjective. Like saying bitterly cold weather.

        This is what we get for making verbs out of nouns and vice versa.

      • That’s simply false. I hope that if you visit the temple with a more open/ prayerful heart your belief on that will change. Also, I personally find it really bad form misconstruing sacred temple things for argument’s sake.

  15. Amen…thanks for putting McIntosh’s ideas in a Mormon man context.

    I don’t think men can even imagine how irksome #32 is. Every one of these is SO true & it’s really helpful to see them listed out.

  16. I loved this post.

    Often as I read the postings here on ‘The Exponent’ and elsewhere across the bloggernacle, I lament my own impotence to right the wrongs so thoroughly chronicled by you, my sisters, especially as enumerated in this particular post. My wife often reminds me that what she wants from me when she tells me her woes is simply to have me listen and validate her feelings rather than offer to fix her problems. I get that. And yet I don’t. I can’t help but want to help, but where I can’t help I do want to understand. For that, thank you for refusing to go quietly into the night without a fight. For you are right: Many of these are concerns of which I and many of your brothers are simply unaware.

    I believe there is much that we, working together as brothers and sisters, can do going forward to bring about the kind of equality in the Church that we at least imagine exists in common between our Heavenly Parents. However, one point raise in the list above leaves me without any recourse, even when I dare to imagine that long since longed for revelation: You know the one, the one that comes to right all wrongs, balance all accounts, dry all tears and fulfill all hopes. Priestesshood. Heavenly Mother. Et al.


    What exactly, can be done about number twenty-one?

    “21. When I study the history of my church I am shown that largely people of my gender made it happen.”

    Its essence is echoed in numbers twenty-eight and fifty, too at least. Our history will never change, though we may yet reshape our future. History is the one wrong that can never be made right, for how can we right what is past without rewriting the past? Can a church that once practiced polygyny ever be egalitarian without disavowing its truth claims going forward?

    The priesthood ban, both in its racial and gendered aspects, was never intended to be forever. The racial priesthood revelation put us on the right path, and our future in 1978 never looked bright since 1890. The gender priesthood revelation will undoubtedly do even more good, but our history will forever be our legacy. We cannot teach our children it was Emma Hale who went into the Sacred Grove. We cannot teach our children it was Miriam who ascended Sinai and parted the Red Sea, nor that it was Nephi’s little sister who built the ship and obtained the plates of brass. We cannot teach our children that it was the widow who raised the son of Elijah from the dead, and had power to both bind and loose in heaven and on earth. We cannot teach our children that Mary Magdalene was permitted to tarry and minister to the world, and witness the Apocalyptic vision of the end thereof. Most profoundly, We cannot teach our children that our Savior and Redeemer, the only name by which all women and men will be resurrected and all who will may be exalted in glory, is the only begotten daughter our Heavenly Mother. Those any every other story in our Holy Canon cannot be remade to be equal, and so our Church can only ever approach equality, but never reach it completely so long as it clings to its own legacy.

    If the point of number twenty-one is have me listen and validate the feelings of the oppressed without offering to fix it, like my wife often asks me to do, then I am poignantly moved by it and its entire accompaniment as well. But if number twenty-one is a deal-breaker and must be remedied with the others, then I do not know what to do, nor do I believe anything can be done with that one.

    Then again.

    I’ve heard it said that democracy, America in particular, is the worst form of government there is, except for all others. Well, I guess it could be said that religion, The LDS Church in particular, is the worst form of spirituality there is, except for all others. The Lord said that new cloth cannot be sewed into old fabric and new wine cannot be poured into old bottles. I’m not advocating the tired, unhelpful and insensitive old refrain: “If you don’t like it, then leave it!” On the contrary, it is with you that I desire fellowship. Perhaps it would not be out of bounds to suggest a ‘Field of Dreams’ metaphor: “If you build it, they will come.” I know that I would come. A man can build a gender equal religion so it’s up to you. Enough man-splaining for now.

    Then again, again.

    Maybe together we can settle for laboring to fix what really can be fixed, and leave the rest to God. Being a Mormon wouldn’t be all that bad if we did, right? Did I mention that I loved this post?

      • You are right, history cannot be redone. However, we currently focus on men in the history of the church and talk little about women and the things that they did or words of wisdom that they spoke. There are lots of stories to be taught to our children about different women and the contribution that they made. The book “Daughters in My Kingdom” is a small step toward focusing on the history of the women in our church.

        In addition to including more stories about women when we talk about the history of the church, we could also make sure that we are teaching these stories to both men and women and boys and girls. Currently, the history of the men in the church is viewed as “everyone’s history” and is emphasized in our lesson manuals etc for both Priesthood and RS meetings. Stories about past RS presidents etc, are taught as stories that women should pay attention to, but are rarely taught to men as examples of role models or people they could learn from.

      • Beatrice,

        Thank you for the referral to “Daughters in My Kingdom.” I would love to broaden the portfolio of women’s stories of which I’m aware. I had presumed that the focus on men when considering the scriptures and early church history was at least in part a natural consequence of abundance, rather than a concerted effort to suppress the paucity of material available. Thnk you again.

    • I agree with others who would like to see the voices of women included in all classes, no matter what the gender, or gender mix, may be. We may not be able to go back for source material in the Bible and Book of Mormon, but there are treasure troves of the writings and diaries of women of faith during this dispensation.

      It is utterly untrue that the story of the latter-day church needs to be viewed narrowly, through the lens of the male leaders of the early church. The fact that most of our lesson manuals do currently have a male-centric narrative is not because we know nothing of the women of the church during that time.

      Including and listening to women’s voices may make it “messier” to deal with the history of the church, and may point out lost opportunities for greater inclusion of women. It probably will give a messier, more human view of the prophets, leaders, and everyday men whose lives were contemporaneous with the women who could be included in the way we interpret our history. Inevitably this would cause heartburn for many, but that is not a reason to deprive the church of the voices of those women, who lived with great faith.

      I hope that someday we will have a year of Sunday School which focuses on the lives and contributions of women, in building up the kingdom. I hope it includes information about the early RS, but that it goes further, sharing talks, letters, articles from church publications, and journal entries from women. I hope there will be as much shared from the Bible and Book of Mormon as we have, and then share the voices of women from Emma through the migration, polygamy, Utah statehood, and into the 21st century.

      I also hope that it will be taught to the youth as well as the adults, and that it will be a first step into bringing women’s voices and testimonies into all of our study materials. Those testimonies do exist, they just are not widely available outside academic circles. It is time to bring them out of obscurity!

      • JuliaThePoet,

        Your comment, together with DefyGravity and Beatrice, have clearly shown me that there is deep trove of material available on the historical contributions of women to the growth of the church and restoration of the gospel. To me, this is a glad tiding of great joy particularly well timed for the season, mostly because you and your sisters are correct: This material is never, ever presented to the priesthood. I’m ashamed that I didn’t even know that it was there to neglect in the first place. I’m happy to hear that this material is presented regulary at least in Relief Society, and it more than adequately proves the point that there is much room for improvement going forward, and I hope that was evident in my original comment, not obscured by my taking issue with what I perceived was a lament about what is immutably historical.

      • Spunky,

        No, I am not Richard Ian Kimball of BYU. I have only a cursory familiarity with his work and do not know him personally. Any similarity between that Richard Kimball and I are purely coincidental. If my moniker is distracting then perhaps I may change it, as I’d hate for him to have to defend himself by disavowing things I said.

    • No one expects to change the authors or the early restoration. We merely expect to have the women’s voices, previously disqualified, included. Yes, that will involve words of pain as the women were made objects to acquire and exploit in polygamy. We don’t mind. Their voices should be right beside their spouses. Where they belong.

  17. I don’t pretend to understand all of the challenges that women face in the church and I did appreciate this article in helping me understand their point of view. However, I do feel I should point out a couple of things. Many of the items on the list appear to be more a result of the larger culture rather than the church. Not that they don’t exist in any degree in the church, but rather the origin is from the larger culture not the church. As a result, those items cannot really be solved completely as long as we live in an unfair and unrighteous world.

    Certainly we can do better at making women feel better and more included in the church. I would wish that all the women in the church could feel like equals to us men as I have great admiration for many of the women that I have observed in the church even if their roles are different. Their strength and influence in the church is invaluable even though I understand why it may seem less appreciated at times. I would also hope that anyone whom I might marry would similarly feel equal to myself and not subservient or submissive in any way as I would not wish myself to be in that position.

    Also, one must not assume that there aren’t unique challenges to men in the church either, and some of these likewise arise from the larger culture as well. People should remember that historically, the church has given women many freedoms before they were generally accepted elsewhere. One example being that Utah was one of the first states to allow women the right to vote. So at least I think we can say that compared with society as a whole, that we are ahead of the curve, but likewise more progress may also be necessary as long as there are many of those who feel unequal in the church.

    • You are right that many of the issues listed here are related to problems in our general society. Of course, subcultures within the broader culture vary in how inclusive and equitable they are toward women. It has been my experience and (the experience of many other women) that I feel more equal treatment and respect at work than I do in the church. It is often subtle things that you don’t notice until you become really involved in sub-cultures outside of the church culture. For example, I have noticed that men at work are much more likely to look me in the eye when speaking with me, are more likely to ask about and listen to my opinions, and are more likely to view women as leaders. I realize that this is not the experience of all LDS women. However, given that the LDS church have been progressive about some women’s issues in the past, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the current LDS church became a place that was more progressive than the general culture?

    • Utah women were granted suffrage primarily because utah needed a minimum number of voters to form a state. Utah still had an extremely patriarchal society that gave most privileges and over-ride authority to men not to women.

  18. Excellent collection of thoughts well crafted. As a businessperson, I see many of these elements as pertinent in out ongoing business culture I will use this to try to change culture on a broader sense that has his historical and ongoing inequalities. Thanks!!

  19. Reading this and thinking about my other sisters just made me incredibly sad. I’m not sure what y’all do in your wards, but in my ward I have never felt inferior to anyone. Most of this list seems to either have to do with leadership positions or what happens because of those leadership positions. To think that you are unequal because you don’t hold the priesthood, thus cannot have a higher calling in the church is ridiculous. My opinions have never looked down upon, nor have any emotions been attributed to my gender. We have different, but equal callings and you guys are looking at God’s church as something worldly or secular. In my ward the RS president is held in the highest esteem and my seminary teacher was very influential in my life and SHE was never thought of less because of her gender. Most of my Sunday school teachers were women and then of course YW leaders. They run everything in the youth programs, the priesthood is just there to keep us safe. Men respect women in this church and to think otherwise is crazy. I’ve grown up hearing about powerful women in the church. I’m not at all peeved that I do not hold the priesthood and we do not at all have less voice with God than them. They can do blessings, but our prayers do not just fall on deaf ears. God loves ALL of us equally and I am glad to be apart of a Church where men are EXPECTED to treat women fantastically. I’ve been mistreated by men and NONE of them were LDS. I’m sad that your experiences have made you feel unequal and if something is wrong in your wards I hope you get it fixed.

    <3 to all of my sisters
    Also sorry this was so long and if I offended anyone i am deeply sorry :/

    • Calling the experience and opinions of others ridiculous is rude, whether you meant it to be or not.

      All the men who have mistreated me were LDS. The church gives them the right to preside, a right that women never have. Women don’t have control of their own organizations. RS and YW leaders must get permission from and answer to the bishop. That is not a ward roblem but a church wide policy that goes all the way to the top.

      Your opinion may be taken seriously, but policy allows bishops, stake presidents and presidents of the church to leave women out f meetings and ignore their opinion. Again, that is church-wide because of how church structure is set up, with decision-making power in the hands of men. That decision-making power is given because they hold the Priesthood, therefore women will never have decision-making power in the current structure. The can give advice. That is it.

      Finally, if prayers count as much as blessings, why are blessings necessary?

      I agree that Gd loves all of us. I don’t question that. I question whether the church is doing what it can and should to reflect that.

      • Like I said at the end I am sorry if I offended anyone. The Bishopric, Stake President, and all the way up the ladder have the ability to deny women from these meetings. However, I have never seen it happen. Yes, priesthood blessings are more powerful, but the way it was said made it sound like women had zero power. God hears all of our voices. To say that you don’t trust this system or the men who YOU sustained is saying that you don’t trust God. What I really don’t understand is why if you have so many problems with the church are you still part of it? I’m not saying that to be rude, but all of these women seem to have a lot of problems with the Church and how it’s run. I’m simply curious as to why, like one of the first few women who commented that’s the reason she left.

      • You might want to avoid calling people ridiculous if you dn’t want to offend them. And just because you have not seen exclusion happen does not mean it doesn’t happen. Many of the women on this site and others have experience with seeing exclusion. Does it happen all the time, no. But it does happen and policy allows it to happen. Since not everyone chooses to include women, policy needs to change.

        So you believe blessings are more powerful, i.e. Mean more to gGod/have more power to make things happen? So you are okay with women being barred from that? You are okay with God listening to women and a bit more to men? It’s okay that men can ask God for something, he is a bit more likely to answer? If you are okay with this, then I’m not sure I can explain feminism to you, as you are okay with God listening to men more than women.

        Sustaining doesn’t mean blind obedience. I can sustain and support someone without agreeing with everything they do. I can support them by telling them how to make people like me feel welcome. I can show them a different perspective. You equate church leaders with God. I do not. I see men who are trying to listen to and follow God, like everyone else, who need support and information, not blind acceptance and obedience.

        As for why do we stay? Today was my last Sunday in church because of questions like that, because that question says that God only wants those who agree. Gd only wants those who fit a certain mold. And members only want people like them sharing their meeeting. That questions says that we need to justify our faith to someone with no authority over us, have to prove we are worthy to be a member with them. It says we are unwelcome. So, I will not be returning because it matters more that I fit in than that I am seeking Christ.

      • I never said anyone was ridiculous, I said the idea was ridiculous. I am not equating these men to God. I am saying that God called on them to be leaders of the Church and by sustaining them you are saying that you support them and the decisions they make. Why do you sustain them if you don’t agree with them, you’re allowed to do that. Maybe I haven’t seen any one be ignored or whatever, but if it’s happening to you I hope you said something. I think that in the Church we are equal in different parts, as women we have power that men don’t have. I’m sorry that this is your last Sunday, of course everyone is allowed to have their own opinion and you do not have to agree. I am just confused as to why you feel like this. I’m no where near perfect and i’m not asking you to prove your faith. Honestly, your faith is your business. What I don;t understand is why all of you guys are on here talking about this, when you should be talking to people in your ward about it. You are the only one who can make a difference in your area. Get answers to your questions and don’t stop until you do.

      • Not all of these problems are local. A lot are based in church wide policy that can’t be changed by local leaders. There is also no promise that local leaders will listen, which is kind of the point. If the don’t listen, and don’t have to, it will take a policy change to get people to listen. And often the answers we get are like yours; women are different from men and have different roles; you need to sustain your leaders, etc. If those answers don’t work for us, how do we get our leaders to understand? And if they can’t or wn’t understand, then what?

        I redefined sustain, and you refuse to accept my definition. If my leaders do the same, then I have no recourse. They have power to define terms, to determine my righteousness, and there is little I can do if they find me unworthy bevause I define terms differently or ask questions they don’t like.

        What if I don’t sustain my leaders? That has no bearing on what they can and can’t do. They still have power over me even if I don’t sustain them.

        So, how do we fix the problems we have, taking all that into account? You act like it is an easy fix. It isn’t.

    • “Men respect women in this church and to think otherwise is crazy”.

      I can tell you with 100% veracity that this is not the case. I have had a home teacher be both spiritually, emotionally abusive and he said he was allowed to act the way he was acting towards me because he was once a Bishop. Given what you’ve told me, I think you know that once people leave callings they no longer have the authority to act as if they are still in a position of authority. And yet, even with a printed copy of the mail that he sent me, my male leadership did nothing and let this man’s pronouncement of me stand. That was abusive on their parts.

      • I am sorry that this happened to you and he of course had no right to do that. He abused his power and he does not have any right to do that. I’m appalled that your Bishop did nothing and they just let that happen.

      • Esther-
        If things like that happened all the time, and you truly loved and valued all of the sisters it was happening to, wouldn’t you want to stand up for them?

        If you had a good friend who had male leaders, who you sustained, abuse their authority, what would you do?

  20. I’m not sure what wards you’re referring to, but I’ve been to many wards where many of these line items are simply not true.

  21. I really appreciate seeing this list. I had no idea that some women in the Church felt this way about these particular issues. I can see how increased sensitivity, understanding, planning and organizing, (along with changes) could go along way to show more value for what women do in the Church and can do with their talents and abilities.

    I would also like to add my opinion that many things on this list are clearly issues in society and only loosely connected to anything in the Church. As I read I found some of them to be very profound and serious while others were unfortunately untrue. Simply disagreeing with some specific parts of the structure of the Church doesn’t mean it can or even should be changed. For example see #73- I don’t understand how anyone in the Church changes that until the Lord changes it.

    • Jace,
      I’m glad that you can see the value in this list.
      I was just talking to my husband about this list as well. There are a few items on here that don’t seem that bad when taken alone. But, when they are all put together, the weight of patriarchy is really present.

      I’m interested in where you, and people like you who are reading this for the first time, go with this.

      At LDS WAVE we are in the processes of writing a booklet for church leaders and women, to help address some of these subjects. I hope it will be out by March. We’ll link to it here.

  22. Excellent post, Whoa-man.

    It is highly likely that most of my spiritual leaders and mentors are of my same gender. It is just as likely that I do not have many (if any) spiritual leaders or mentors of the opposite gender.

    And that is where my feminist awakening occurred, when I realized that my husband didn’t have any women who were spiritual leaders. It’s a HUGE issue in the church.

    • It is just as likely that I do not have many (if any) spiritual leaders or mentors of the opposite gender. I don’t know if this one belongs on a list of privilege. It is definitely true, but I can’t think of any way men benefit from this fact, and many ways in which they are harmed by the lack of female spiritual leaders, so I don’t think I would call this a privilege.

  23. I understand that there is inequality in gender roles in the Church. Some of it is cultural, some of it is due to people’s lack of understanding, but some of it is due to Heavenly Father’s revelation. Notice that inequality does not mean that some soul is worth more than another. It just means they have different roles.

    The church is not a democracy. If you truly believe revelation is received from Heavenly Father, why are you trying to council Heavenly Father to change His ways? For instance, why be so concerned about the priesthood being received only by men? If women were supposed to receive the priesthood now, Heavenly Father would reveal that to us.

    I am just concerned that this movement is missing the point at times. While having healthy discussion in some of the topics above is healthy, some of them make me question the testimony of the person that questions the point.


    • Women are supposed to have the priesthood, and it has already been revealed. In the temple ceremony, women are called to be priestesses, and administer priesthood rites to other women. How is that not a statement that women are called to minister?

      D&C has shown us that the Lord responds to questions. And so, we are questioning. And hoping that the rest of the church is ready to respond.

    • Luis- The fact that you think you can question my testimony, or anyone’s testimony, because their interpretation of the gospel is slightly different than yours IS the problem. Thank you for proving the point so succinctly.

  24. Luis, why do you assume that a male-only priesthood is a principle that comes from God and not from mankind’s limited understanding? Priesthood was first given to men in a time period when women were basically seen as the possessions of men. Throughout the Bible, women were almost invisible as spiritual leaders and almost all of our scriptural texts are written by men. Even in Joseph Smith’s time, the choices of women were seen as secondary in importance to the choices of their husbands, and it bled into the doctrine (see D&C 132). Women are still seen in many countries as possessions. Women in the U.S. have only had the right to vote for 92 years and bastions of old thinking remain. Past cultural ideas about women definitely bled into past religious practices, and still color LDS doctrine. God does not teach principles to mankind that they have not the ability to comprehend. He teaches line upon line. I believe in bible times the cultural ideas about women were so rudimentary that many men could not even comprehend Heavenly Father having a truly equal female companion, our Heavenly Mother, and could not comprehend women as spiritual equals, let alone authorities. I believe that’s still the reason why women are not given the authority to use their priestesshood in a routine capacity in the LDS church. We know that we have a Heavenly Mother, we know from temple ordinances that women are to become priestesses. I don’t believe it is God holding us back, but that mankind’s limited understanding is. I think(hope) we’re getting closer to a more Godlike understanding, and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with working towards a more Godlike understanding.

  25. Hi, I am a male. I feel most of the points made are true. Number 78 could be written better. The family proclamation to the world states that “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” Personally I interpret the quote to literally mean they share all responsibilities, including the responsibility to preside.

    • Maybe it should have said “LDS doctrine designates me as the presiding authority over my home”. Throughout the Bible men are designated as the presiding authorities of the home, and throughout LDS church history in sermons and conference talks starting with Joseph Smith, men have been instructed to preside, and women to obey. The temple covenants and much of canonized scripture still designates men as the presiding authorities in the home, and women instructed to obey. It’s going to take a lot more than one sentence that can loosely be interpreted as instructing husbands and wives to share the responsibility of presiding to change the overall doctrine. Thankfully society is a bit ahead of LDS doctrinal teachings in that regard so that many male LDS members already treat their wives as equal partners.

  26. I have seen many of these points. But wouldn’t it be useful to distinguish between those that are Mormon-church specific and those which aren’t? It seems to me like at least 4, 11, 18, 23, 23, 24, 29, 30, 33, 34, 41, 44, 45, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54, 60, 63, 76, 80, and 82 aren’t just Mormon problems.

  27. My experience
    Whoa-man, thanks for taking the time to chronicle your concerns. I’d like to begin by mentioning that the women in my family are as well educated (multiple graduate degrees), as successful in their careers, as intelligent, and are probably better people than the men in my family. My dear mother, in the middle of a successful career, decided to stay home with her family, and that made all the difference for us–a family where the sons and the daughters have received doctorate degrees, are all active in the church, and are trying to make a difference in the world. My mother’s decision to forego a promising career and its attending wealth, prestige and power has made all the difference in my life. If I am anything today, it is because of my dear mother who taught me right principles and sacrificed worldly fame and glory for me. She was a lawyer, and I am currently in law school. Seeing many people who would cut off their right ear to get a job like she had out of law school is a poignant reminder of how much she sacrificed.

    Does anyone outside our home recognize her success in raising a family as much as they recognize my father’s career success? No. She doesn’t have a website that touts her successes as does my father. Does the formal church organization ever send her a thank-you note or recognize her in church because she has a full family that remained entirely active? No. Has she ever been relief society president? No. Does that make her a failure in life? No. Is she well qualified to be a “prestigious and powerful” person? Yes. Does her sacrifice make all the difference in the world to me, and mean more than any job, any amount of prestige and power, any worldly acclamation, or any calling ever could? Yes. I will honor and thank her for eternity for what she has done for me. She is my hero, and if I can be half as good and loving of a parent as she has been, I will consider my life a success.

    Don’t get me wrong, my father is wonderful as well, and I am very grateful for him, but it was my mother who was by my side most of my life teaching me true gospel principles and helping me navigate the storms of life.

    The Arguments
    That said, it seems like your primary concerns are that (1) in the gospel, men have the priesthood, (2) women are not considered for the “prestigious and important” callings that are currently only open to members of the priesthood (who are inherently all men), and (3) women’s opinions tend not to be heard in the church as much as men’s.

    In terms of (1) and (2), they are both entirely true assessments of the way the Church of Jesus Christ works. You’ll have to consult with the Lord as to why He set up His church this way, or why the scriptures were written with a focus on the history of the men in the Book of Mormon. Perhaps it was a male conspiracy to dominate and subjugate women–that would be very crafty, underhanded, and totally out of line with everything I have ever been taught or feeling I’ve felt through the Spirit.

    If you’re arguing that the Lord is sexist and is trying to subjugate women, I cannot support you. If you’re arguing that the prophet is sexist and is manipulating the church against the will of a gender-equal Heavenly Father, again, I’m not sure I can support you. I believe that Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer, that He came to earth to help us and teach us how to be perfect, as He is. I believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord, who restored the true church with the proper authority to act in His name, and that it is only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure faithfully to the end. Yes, it means that men end up getting more leadership callings which are more publicly recognized than are the women’s traditional roles. That said, there are imperfect people within the perfect church organization, and some people may have improper attitudes. Many of your comments, though, strike not at insensitive men but at the organization of the church.

    As for (3), there seem to be two causes. One, if men have the priesthood and are properly called and ordained of God, then they have been given the authority to receive revelation for their stewards. If they properly execute their stewardship, then their words as moved upon by the spirit are the words of God. Again, you may argue that the Lord is sexist, but that doesn’t change the fact that the order that he has created is one where revelation is given through priesthood channels.

    Cause two is that in non-revelation circumstances men may not properly hear women’s opinions, or take into consideration their needs and desires. Any man that rejects a woman’s opinion because she is a woman does not follow the teachings of the Gospel. Any man that marginalizes or does not accept women as equal does not follow the teachings of the gospel.

    Practical Considerations
    What I don’t hear much of is specific concerns that affect your life about how the outcomes of decisions have been made. I hear you saying that the Lord has created an inappropriate process for decision making. Does the final outcome negatively impact your life, or are you concerned with the Lord’s process?

    Your points about specifics primarily revolve around clothing standards. (As a side note, I was rejected from stake dances growing up because of dress and grooming issues). The garment issue is a real one, I understand. And it’s true, men have an easier time conforming to dress codes. It’s not in style for non-member men to show off their legs or chest while it is for non-member women, making things a bit simpler. At the same time, non-member women who dress like that often get a lot of attention that I don’t imagine you want. A lot of men are pigs, and if you show a bit more skin they’ll respond. Women tend to be less shallow. I think a lot of your comments are more about the differences between men and women, regardless of which church they go to, than they are about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you think it’s the church’s fault you can’t wear strapless gowns or bikinis, then I invite you to take that up with the Lord. Perhaps He’ll make an exception for you.

    As for the “wear pants to church day” this last Sunday, there were several women in my ward who did so. I read the article last week, then didn’t notice anyone at church until it was pointed out that several of my acquaintances and friends had worn church. It was basically a non-issue. We’re supposed to wear our Sunday best. Interpret that however you want–we’re no longer living the law of Moses.

    Any lack of financial autonomy on the part of single women stems from their own life and career decisions. Perhaps women do seek the approval of men in their career choices, and I know for a fact that there are men who, counter to the prophet’s advice and example, discourage women from getting education. Shame on those men.

    Any imbalance in numbers of singles comes from the fact that while there are roughly equal numbers of men and women born in the church, the sad truth is that men go inactive at a faster rate than do women, probably indicating that women have more spiritual strength than men do, on average.

    There are individuals who are sexist in the church. There are a lot of imperfect people in the church. Attacking the church organization and structure as set up by a prophet in counsel with the Lord doesn’t feel like it’s the right way to go about things, though.

    Women ought to learn to be more independent, to think for themselves, to not need validation from men to make their own life decisions, to not judge self-worth based on callings or prestige.

    Men ought to love the women in their lives and support them in following their dreams and passions, to not judge or lash out at women for making decisions they would not have made, and generally stay active more and be more involved in the church.

    At the end of the day, I’m grateful for my wonderful mother who sacrificed the “power and prestige” you highlight in almost every point on your list to help me become a better person. I’m not perfect, but I do attribute any shred of perfection I’ve attained to her, and any of my many imperfections to my own shortcomings.

    • I appreciate the respect you have for your mom and the sacrifice she made for you.

      If you stick around, do the work, and read through comments you will find answers to many of your questions as to what many of us believe. You will also find many of the points you take issue with explained.

      “Any man that marginalizes or does not accept women as equal does not follow the teachings of the gospel.”

      That’s exactly what I believe, and would add, any organization, and any policies that marginalize or do not accept women as equal does not follow the teachings of the gospel. And yet, here we are. Read my response to Cameron two comments up.

      “…if men have the priesthood and are properly called and ordained of God, then they have been given the authority to receive revelation for their stewards. If they properly execute their stewardship, then their words as moved upon by the spirit are the words of God.”

      I agree with that. Men also have free will and sometimes decisions made by LDS leadership are not a reflection of revelation, but a reflection of what that leader thought was best based on the leader’s experience and knowledge. Note that women do not hold priesthood authority in the LDS church, and even when they hold leadership positions in LDS women’s organizations, any decision they make or revelation they receive may be overridden by the male leadership that they answer to, reflecting a belief that a woman’s revelation, experience, and knowledge is inferior to her male counterpart’s.

      “What I don’t hear much of is specific concerns that affect your life about how the outcomes of decisions have been made. I hear you saying that the Lord has created an inappropriate process for decision making. Does the final outcome negatively impact your life, or are you concerned with the Lord’s process?”

      False. We are not saying that the Lord has created an inappropriate process, we are saying man’s limited understanding has. If you’re looking for more examples of how church policies affect women, stick around.

      “Women ought to learn to be more independent, to think for themselves, to not need validation from men to make their own life decisions…”

      That statement is in stark contradiction to the structure of the LDS church, where, again, even the women’s organizations answer to male leadership, where the decisions and revelation of the women leaders are subject to the approval and validation of male leadership. Men alone are equated with Godly authority and sanction, which women are subject to, and men are never subordinate to a woman’s Godly authority and sanction without a man always being above her.

      You seem to think women who work towards gender equality are too concerned with power and prestige. And yet you pay lip-service to your mother over your father, effectively expressing that in your eyes, your mother’s work was more powerful and prestigious than your father’s. Is that really what you believe or is it a way to try to talk women out of thinking for themselves? I believe the work of fathers and mothers is equally important. I simply also believe that women are as valuable as spiritual leaders as men are, and that God values women’s knowledge and experience as much as he values men’s.

      • Frankly, I think there is something to what both of you are saying. The priesthood hierarchy theoretically respects women, and feminists who portray it as a massive conspiracy to subordinate women are bit off.

        On the other hand, too many men (especially older men) do view themselves as superior. I don’t pretend to understand this dynamic (my pet theory for the persistence of sexism among older generations of Americans is that World War II “empowered” men, and we should all be grateful that a general mobilization is unlikely to ever happen again), and I certainly don’t like it.

        Finally, I think it’s incontrovertibly true that many feminists are overly concerned with power and prestige, though of course just as many are not. I’ve always thought that American identity politics focuses too much on protecting every single last bad apple, to the point that the majority opinion of any given social group is drowned out by a minuscule minority of loud activists. You see this in the gay community, among blacks, and among feminists. Solidarity should not be blind.

      • Joe Eagar, I don’t wish to portray the priesthood hierarchy as a massive conspiracy to subordinate women. The hierarchy does subordinate women. There’s no tip-toeing around that, but I’d like to think it’s not on purpose. I think it’s a tradition that was started back when mankind didn’t know any better, that we continue to cling to today. I think (hope) we’re beginning to know better.

      • Annie, I think we’re making progress, too. My Mom is trying to teach my sisters to push back more when appropriate, and I think it makes wards and ward leaderships stronger when women are confident enough to speak for their own interests.

    • Edit my comment should say “read my response to Luis a few comments up” instead of “read my response to Cameron” in the 4th paragraph

  28. These are facts, indeed. But I find humor in recognizing most of them. I do not see inequality in the church. I see order, respect and perfect function as God intends when those who participate have a testimony of the gospel and its organization as a whole. I respect all of my priesthood leaders for the positions which they hold and love the roles that the brethren accept as I continue to see how they are inspired callings. I am not in anyway intending to question the testimony of any soul but I do know that my own testimony is what gives me peace, even joy in the organization that might be perceive as inequality.

    • I think it’s perfectly fine when I see women in the church (and there are many) who don’t have a problem with this list at all, for whatever reason. (And there are many.) Wonderful, you have managed to do the mental, emotional, and spiritual gymnastics that are required to avoid the minefield of pain in which our circumstances (see list above) put us. Usually a woman with the strength to do that has a rather golden sheltered life as well, and of course such a lucky woman wouldn’t want to be ungrateful for such blessings. I don’t blame her. But some women (again there are many, many of us) have different experiences, where they must do some pain management or go crazy with depression.

      Why not have some compassion for the rest of the women not as fortunate to be able to handle this on testimony and prayer alone, yet who love the Lord and want to be in his household, and want to respect their priesthood leaders too? Why can we not sit down and reason together and examine the minefield for ways to remove at least some of these sources of damage to (some) women’s souls?

      The list above is a beginning of that process; it’s worth serious consideration.

    • Sydney, I see order, but not as God intended. Women re supposed to have equal power and authority- priestess to priest- but we do not. I tell my children that someday the church will listen to God on that. The church is a place of order and peace but it is a negative peace, as described by Martin Luther King Jr, where the people can imagine a better and more just world but do not want to spend effort to achieve it.

  29. Great list. I’m sure the comments are great, too, but there are so very many of them! Forgive me if I duplicate something previously said,

    I was taught in my childhood and early years as a youth through the Scouting program how to protect myself from molestaters and bullies. My female counterparts were given no such training even though they are more likely to be the victims of pedophiles, bullies and abusers.

    I was given extensive training in life skills and was introduced to several career options through Scouting that is considered hand-in-glove with the priesthood. My female counterparts were given passages of scripture to memorize and were given nowhere near as extensive training in career options.

  30. Whoa -man, thanks for a great list. I would add:

    I have the privilege of seeing my gender reflected in God. I can speak about, learn about, pray to, and aspire to be like a God who is my own gender without being perceived as apostate.

    I always see my gender represented in the imagery and artwork that fills churches, temples, and scriptures.

    I can openly pray to a Heavenly Parent of my own gender.

    The worth and validity of my gender does not require frequent lip service- it is assumed.

  31. “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” (1 Corinthians 14:36) We subject ourselves to the Priesthood and to the servants that the Lord has given authority to because we want to find and do the will of God and recieve his blessings, because we don’t have instant revelations given to us; not because it’s easy or fun. If we were independent, and able to have all the word of God on our own, we wouldn’t need to follow the Prophet or anybody else. The Lord speaks through his mouthpiece, the Prophet, and through his appointed channel, the Prieshood. We would be foolish to spurn the guidance that comes through this particular channel.
    When many were offended and stopped following Jesus because Jesus called himself the bread of life, Jesus asked his disciples if they would leave him too. Peter’s reply is perfect: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68) [Notice: even a man, Peter, confessed his dependency on the Lord for revelation and the way to salvation.]
    That is why we seek those who hold the keys of revelation: we want to find out God’s will, do it, and be saved. It is a humbling experience to be in the Church. The Lord requires a humble, teachable people.
    But the Lord’s burden is relatively light compared with being spiritully lost, scattered and cut off from His Church, IMO.

  32. My take on the matter: If we are indeed discussing the Lord’s church and the manner in which He has organized it, shouldn’t we ask ourselves what He considers prestige, privilege, and power? Then we can determine if men and women alike in His church are doing His will. I believe it is possible that the writer of the article does not understand the Lord’s kingdom.

    Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

    Mark 9:34 …for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

    The Lord exemplifies the mentality He inspires in others: His power comes from His goodness, His humility, and His service to others. Men and women alike have ample opportunities to emulate Him; such opportunities are far from exclusive to supposed positions of privilege in His church.

    I believe roles of stewardship that Christ has allotted to women are those of service to others. I believe the roles of stewardship that Christ has allotted to men are those of service to others. If men or women anywhere have construed the different roles of men and women as an indication of superiority one over another, then they do not understand the mind of God.

    Men and women are to be valued equally, endowed with specialties and responsibilities of sometimes different but complementary purpose. If women in the church fulfill their roles with faith and humility, they will be blessed and be a blessing to others. If men in the Church fulfill their roles with humility and faith, they will be blessed and be a blessing to others. The same promise is given to men and women alike who live faithfully and magnify their respective stations.

    If men or women view activity in the church of Christ in terms of power, privilege, prestige, or visibility, or if they insist in pitting the genders against each other, then I believe they are not interested in what the Lord has to offer. I believe it is as simple as that.

  33. What about these:

    The name that groups of my gender are often referred to as is also the name for God’s power on the earth. Although repeatedly corrected by general authorities, local leadership haven’t caught on.

    The most common sins that members of my gender are accused of (whether by action or by association due to immodesty) are not also synonymous with apostasy and corruption of religion. (Whore of all the earth. Great harlot)

    The most iconic biblical persons of my gender have not historically had suspicion thrown on them regarding their sexual promiscuity. Mary Madgelene, Eve, and virgin Mary.

    The actions of one biblical person of someone from my gender has not created a “fatal flaw” of all of the same gender posterity that can only be overcome through obedience to the opposite gender, rather than simply God’s commandments and the atonement.

  34. What about these:

    The name that groups of my gender are often referred to as is also the name for God’s power on the earth. Although repeatedly corrected by general authorities, local leadership haven’t caught on.

    The most common sins that members of my gender are accused of (whether by action or by association due to immodesty) are not also synonymous with apostasy and corruption of religion. (Whore of all the earth. Great harlot)

    The most iconic biblical persons of my gender have not historically had suspicion thrown on them regarding their sexual promiscuity. Mary Magdelene, Eve, and virgin Mary.

    The actions of one biblical person of someone from my gender has not created a “fatal flaw” of all of the same gender posterity that can only be overcome through obedience to the opposite gender, rather than simply God’s commandments and the atonement.

    • Also, I will never experience being honored in fulfilling my divine role during a sacrament meeting and simultaneously told its inappropriate to publicly function as a mother during that sacrament meeting (breast feeding).

  35. This discussion is fascinating to me. I have had little exposure to this issue. My wife has a graduate degree, a career and loves being a mom. She doesn’t feel marginalized or care about larger feminist issues because she feels so fulfilled herself. (It is interesting to me that her mother is a university professor who also is very strong and leads a fulfilling life and also has no feminist activist feelings. I have no idea why not. My own mother is a stay at home uneducated mom and is more of a feminist than either my wife or MIL.)

    Having said that, I wonder if one reason many mormon males have a hard time understanding this is that so many of us have no interest in the privileges. I know that for me, I do not want to have a calling of authority, I don’t want to do interviews of people’s worthiness, I don’t like boy scouts and so don’t understand women wanting a version of it, I would never want to be a in a position where I was supposed to decide what was best for the relief society in my ward, I would never want to speak in a church meeting if I didn’t have to, etc.

    Since so many men would rather not have the privileges, it makes sense that many would not recognize the inherent problems associated with it that you point out here.

    I would just as soon the church gave the priesthood to women and have these issues work themselves out by having women in leadership positions that could influence change. This article helped a bit to see maybe why from a systemic standpoint it is desirable to have that bag of privileges, even if an individual woman might not want to exercise any of them ever.

  36. I’m sorry, but I really think it’s sad that women feel so undervalued in the Church. Men and women are different, yes – welcome to life. Welcome to the Plan of Salvation. The Proclamation to the World states that “gender is an essential characteristic of… eternal identity and purpose.”

    I can’t say I have ever struggled with gender roles in the Church. The differences between men and women strengthen, not weaken, the Church. There will always be things that men can do better than women, and that women can do better than men.

    I honestly feel sorry for the women who leave the Church or struggle with their testimonies because they feel undervalued; I don’t know what wards they attend, but I have never experienced most of the items on the list, or if I have, I’ve never felt degraded because of them.

    The Church is true. I know it with my whole heart. I know President Monson has been called as a prophet to act as Christ would if he was on the earth today, and I trust that God knows what He is doing far better than we do.

    • ” The differences between men and women strengthen, not weaken, the Church. There will always be things that men can do better than women, and that women can do better than men.”

      No, not really. Not categorically. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were average differences between women and men on some characteristics. But you think the differences are so big that there’s no overlap at all? That the man least qualified to be a bishop (for example) is still more qualified than the most qualified woman? That is just obviously false. And taking an average difference (assuming you could even pin down that there was an average difference) and codifying it in policy that categorically denies one sex access to some position? That’s just absurd.

      Really, it’s fine if you want to make the infallible prophets argument, and claim that if God wanted women ordained, they would already be ordained, since the prophets are infallible implementers of God’s will. I still won’t agree, but at least the argument holds together. But arguments like “men and women are different” don’t justify the differential treatment like the female priesthood ban one bit.

  37. I know of several wives who followed their husband on service or specialty missions, in which their husband specifically called to serve in some type of capacity that was related to his profession. The wife was a tangential member to the calling, which was really reserved for the husband. In a few instances, I have known of wives who are left with little or no responsibilities whatsoever, while their husbands do most/all of the work. Could we also add:

    “It is likely that I will not be asked to accompany my spouse on a mission in which her professional talents are specifically required by the Church, instead of my own.”

  38. #84–When preparing to serve a mission, a male will never be asked by his priesthood leaders if he is “SURE” that he’s making the right decision. And his relationship status is not part of the consideration (law of chastity consideration aside).

    I was asked multiple times by both my Bishop and Stake President if I was SURE that I could handle missionary service, and if I was SURE that I was not “dating someone” or “dodging a marriage opportunity.”

  39. This is saddening to me, but not for the same reasons as most of those who have posted. Why in the world do you want to be the same as men?

    In my opinion this is a testament to your lack of understanding of the gospel. Men and women do not have to be the same thing in order to be equal in God’s eyes.

    I’m glad there are those who cherish the differences between men and women. I see those differences as strengths. Those differences in roles do not mean that women are lesser in any way.

    • “In my opinion this is a testament to your lack of understanding of the gospel.” – Statements that question the testimonies of other people are against the comment policy. Please review it.

      I don’t want to be the same as men, but I do want a greater say and opportunities to serve. For me, I’d love to be able to stand with my husband for baby blessings, confirmations, etc. There is something wonderfully connecting and precious about physically placing your hands on someone. Women aren’t allowed opportunities for that, which I believe really hurts the women who might have “physical touch” as a love language. We want to serve.

      • Understanding and Testimony are COMPLETELY different things. I still hold to my opinion as stated above.

        If your husband’s love language is also touch, I’ve heard with proper hormones he could actually produce milk and help breastfeeding in the future. Good luck to you both.

  40. Maybe I overlooked this one, but don’t want it left out. The privilege to approach God in special prayer without veiling your face.

  41. The essays contained in this issue run as wide a spectrum in feelings about the temple as the art that we found to accompany them. Readers are sure to find at least one essay that does not sound anything like their experience with the temple. It is strange and wonderful and somehow deeply satisfying that a ritual that is so standardized can be interpreted in such magnificently varied ways. I hope that you read this issue with deliberation. I hope that as you read you imagine looking into the eyes of the women who wrote about their experiences. When they ask implicitly, and maybe with fear and sadness or joy and affirmed faith, whether you think their experiences are acceptable, I hope that we can all answer, “Absolutely.”

  42. If you have ever read the proclaim to the family it is clear the the LDS church and our Heavenly do in fact believe men and women have different roles to play on earth but most definitely do not put more value on either role. The worlds view does. As a woman you can do powerful things and make powerful influences without holding a certain title. God has given woman the most important role and that is to create life and care for his children. I can respect that not all women have that desire and/or want to do more. I know plenty woman that do so much and are looked towards for their spiritual knowledge, trusted opinion as thought of with as much respect and you think someone in a “higher” position. You do not always gain more respect because of your title, it comes from your character. So much if your list is not a LDS problem. It is overall society problem and targeting the LDS church does nothing but degrade it. It seems you don’t like to be stereotyped but you did that in your list repeatily. For example, I got called into the yw presidency a month before I had my second baby, then a month after I had my third baby I was called to be the president. I did in fact have final say on what our yw organization did and how we spent our money. The Bishop asked me what I thought was best for the yw and wanted nothing more than the yw to feel loved and empowered from God. Just last week a member of our Bishop was released because his wife had a baby and was needed at home. Yes, it does happen more for a girl to be released to care for our children but that is because God has given us that divine role and I won’t take that for granted. But it does depend on the family circumstances.
    I have never felt like my husbands spirituality or personal revelation is more important than mine and neither does he. He has to hear ken to his father as well.
    I have always felt encouraged to gain education and develop my personal interests and talent to enhance my life. The whole list looks at life negatively instead of looking at the blessings and opportunities we do have as women. It makes me sad that there are so many woman that can only see and feel the negative and it makes me even more sad when those that feel it share it and convince others of the negativity especially in a church that fosters love and does have the deepest respect for women.!

    • Well, your comment reflects the glorious privilege you have to feel like your husband’s spirituality and personal revelations are not more important than yours for large or small, spiritual & temporal decisions, that he hearkens unto you daily with respect and kindness, and that you have generally been safe, unabused, and educated.

      He is a good person. I’m so glad you have matched yourself with someone who is not unkind. But he did not promise or covenant with God to be that way. He just is, and you’re a fortunate, privileged woman.

      However – your good luck and fortunate experience does not negate another person’s lived experience.

      Because I have not been abused by a trusted person, does not mean that someone else who has been abused by a trusted person must be lying, vindictive or a bad person bent against all things good. We have to stand with each other and EMPATHIZE. There are things that must and can be changed, and what I see most is other women (of all things) telling those who are baring their souls to sit down, shut up, and be grateful for what they already have – because “I” haven’t experienced the same things. Look for the good that can come from people actually learning from people who see patterns that are invisible to those unaffected by them.

      • April, it is such a blessing that you have never felt the inequality that the author of this post and many women in the Church have felt. You are correct that many of these speak to our patriarchal society as a whole, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid within a church context. When we who have never experienced the struggles of others say that we have never had those struggles as evidence that they don’t happen, it is like we are saying “I have never experienced poverty; therefore, poverty doesn’t exist. I have never experienced hunger; therefore, hunger doesn’t exist. I have never experienced ecclesiastical inequality; therefore, ecclesiastical inequality does not exist.”

  43. In the temple you will never be required to veil your face, promise to follow your spouse and give yourself submissively to someone else. You will not have to wait for a male to bring you though the veil and your salvation is not contingent on someone else.

  44. If I divorce or if my spouse dies I can remarry in the temple. I do not have to worry about my spouse being sealed to both me and another man in the event of my death. I am not told that I will have brother-husbands in heaven. I do not have to consider the question of why sex with multiple husbands would ever be “ordained by God” for the women of the Church at various times in its history (future?).

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