Feminist Awakenings

I have this amazing walking buddy who introduced me to the folks over at The Exponent. I’d been a dedicated reader of the blog for quite a while, but now I have know and love several members of the community. In all my conversations with them, it occurs to me that I rarely ask about how they became feminists. 

Now, hardly anyone is born a feminist, let alone a Mormon feminist. I didn’t come late to the party; we MoFems are still in the minority, and I started identifying as a feminist in the middle of my BYU Idaho years; nonetheless, I tend to assume that most everyone’s feminist awakening is ancient history.

Except for this: I’m not convinced that a feminist awakening ever really ends. I think that it has a limit (or an asymptote, if you want to think about it mathematically). I think there’s a point where the depth of your feminist convictions change so little over time that it can’t really be considered an awakening anymore. But it doesn’t really stop happening. 

I became a feminist when I realized there was a class system in the young, single LDS world that was based heavily on a person’s sex, priesthood status, missionary status, and marital status. I saw how the boys in my ward would disregard the opinions, thoughts, and questions of the women in my ward, based on the assumption that the girls didn’t know anything. 

I became a feminist when my home teacher at BYU Idaho consistently told us that we would understand “when we went through the temple”, disregarding the women present who had served missions, and all the study and prayer we had done (note: the temple didn’t address these particular concerns at all).

I became a feminist when I felt out of place in science classes that felt like rowdy Elders quorums. 

I became a feminist when I realized that it didn’t matter what I said if I didn’t also look good when I said it. 

I became a feminist when I couldn’t find a job in large part because I was a woman and newly married in an environment that expected me to not need a job as much as a man (because I had a husband to take care of me).

I became a feminist when I found myself depressed and judged by other women because we had been married several years and had no children. 

I became a feminist when I saw a male member of our church call a woman a c*** for wanting to wear pants to church. 

I became a feminist when I felt the Holy Ghost whisper to me that I should try to emulate Heavenly Mother, and I had no idea what that meant. 

I became a feminist when I married in the temple and heard unequal language. 

I became a feminist when I started liking every picture in the recent Ordain Women campaign.

I became a feminist when I discovered and devoured every word on Ask Mormon Girl, hungry for more. 

I’m still becoming a feminist, but I think I have to pinpoint my awakening to the day I posted this quote on my Facebook wall:

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

It was later that I realized that not everyone feels that way. 

My feminist awakening has been a million different things; moments, experiences, conversations, memes. I stand on the asymptote; the limit as x approaches infinity. I’m forever changed by it; proud to be a feminist, because it makes me strong. A million thanks to the women who came before; you are my heroes. 

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4 thoughts on “Feminist Awakenings

  1. I like your point that a feminist awakening never really ends. Once we have learned to see the world through this perspective, we can’t help but to see the injustices – which unfortunately still exist nearly everywhere we look. I remember having heated discussions with my youth leaders about why the YM got to do so many more fun activities than the YW, and asking my family in frustration why the church wanted to keep women from serving missions by keeping the age requirement higher for them. And I had so many of the same experiences you listed above once I started college and later got married. It’s not the easy path, perhaps, but I agree that I am forever changed and proud to be a feminist!

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    • It’s so funny how once you see things through the feminist lens, you can never un-see them. I think one of the biggest surprises of my life so far has been how much feminism has changed me (for the better).

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  2. i can’t wait to read more of your blog! i’m a feminist actually just now coming around to mormonism (raised catholic but ended up an atheist). the words of other mormon feminists are really comforting and helping me define my own faith.

    XO
    V

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