I can still hear myself say, calmly bearing witness, “There are gender problems in our church…. It will be very interesting to see what we, as a church and a people, do about it.”
That girl, Me From The Past, was calm and sure of the veracity of her claim, but also confident that once The Church saw how much we all need to address these problems, how much room for further light and knowledge there is, how much we longed for answers from On High, things would change. She was full of feminist hope. People would understand, things would change; you would see.
That girl hadn’t lived through public excommunication of LDS liberals, feminists, and scholars. She had experienced blatant sexism within the organization of the church (and areas within its’ influence), and so she thought she knew. She thought she was so tired, ready for a miracle.
Today, I am wiser than I was before. I am bolder. What I have gained in confidence in regards to myself and my position, I have lost in trust that things will get better.
I have seen and heard older, more experienced feminists converse in the same begrudging despair, grasping their roots like a falling grizzly bear throws her talons into the mountain.
It makes us weary, this life of closely held values that should not conflict, but somehow do.
The girl I used to be would be surprised at today; she would be glad of the brave, hopeful women advocating for ordination. She would be encouraged by their persistent faith. I think she would be glad of the progress that has been made by the church in the last few years; she would be delighted that women now pray regularly in General Conference, as though they had always been there. She would be enthused by the #mormonwomenwant and #mormonwocwant discussions. She would marvel at the books being written, and that people are buying them – at Deseret Book, no less!
But she would also be discouraged by how hard we fought to get here; so much for so little. In return for both courageous acts of faith and minor acts of transparency, our people have faced discipline, divisiveness, and scapegoating. Honest pleas – thousands of them, have been treated with scorn by other members of our own church. And The Church, itself, has done little more than extend token gestures, which we celebrate as generous when they are merely equitable.
Yes, that girl would also be discouraged; for in all her wildest dreams, she never imagined that what The Church would actually do to address institutional and cultural gender inequality would be… practically nothing.
And she would return to her life, a little less hopeful than before.