…..is not a thing. Just like the words “Atheist” and “Evolution”, Feminist was just as much a dirty word as I was growing up. We’re separated for classes on Sunday starting from age 12, first in Young Women’s and then at 18 in Relief Society.
What is Relief Society? Originally it was an organization that wasn’t the default. The sisters were in charge of it, as it was founded by Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma. You would apply and then had to be voted in. The women would plan meetings and do projects that they decided. The priesthood members (that is to say, the men) had nothing to do with it. But now? Not so much.
The Relief Society is still headed by women, but they don’t have free rein over the program. They have to seek the Bishop’s approval for lesson plans and activities. “Women aren’t less than men, but they have a different purpose.”
The purpose? You guessed it: stay at home and raise the [many] kids, make the meals, and keep the house clean. My mom was a stay and home parent, so and most of the mothers of the kids my age at church were as well. It was always weird to me when I heard about someone who’s mother worked outside the home. In the Church, they are part of the Relief Society, Young Women’s, Primary (where children from 3 to 12 go for Sunday School), and Nursery, where the little ones from 18 months to 3 years old go before they’re old enough to attend Primary.
None are in the Presidencies or Quorums, and none hold the Priesthood. To even suggest these ideas is a thing of blasphemous proportions.
I bring this up now because of recent events. The responses to the Women’s March on my Facebook wall has been all over the place. I have the friends who marched in their own cities, those who liked the pink knit “pussyhats” and those that thought the hats were defeating the purpose, those who thought that women were marching to claim the right to kill their babies.
And then there were the ones who kept saying that “While you’re protesting there are women in [this other country] that are having [this horrible thing] done to them.”
Yes, there are girls in the middle east being killed for being rape victims and having their genitals mutilated in “female circumcision”. What boggles my mind is the people who are saying this and wondering why they don’t leave are the same ones cheering the recent executive order to stop the refugees who are fleeing from the countries that are run by the theocracy responsible for these atrocities.
I believe that the March brought light to these things that are often going unnoticed. Some of the things that are women’s issues are being denied and hampered on the international scene. (Take, for instance, the aversion to providing condoms by Catholics in Africa to prevent HIV or this newest gag order signed by the president concerning federal funding in concern with nonprofits even mentioning the big, bad “A” word to a woman concerning a pregnancy.)
I’m a firm believer that what we do here matters, and not just for us. I wish I could have gone out to march with my sisters (and brothers! I know that there were men there as well!) and add my voice to the mix.
Why? Because feminism isn’t misandry.