Today we release part 1 of a 2-part conversation reviewing the recent Mormon Stories series on Women in the LDS Church (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5). This includes a discussion of my introduction, the 3 waves of Feminism in the USA, and a 3 part interview w/ Claudia Bushman.
Today’s brilliant panelists are:
- Taryn Nelson-Seawright: Taryn lives in the Chicago area with her husband.
She is a researcher in the medical social sciences. She is a passionate
amateur scholar of the Book of Mormon. In her spare time, she blogs
for By Common Consent and, under the pen name Serenity Valley, Latter-Day
Saint Liberation Front.
- Rosalynde Welch: Rosalynde lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband John
and her three children. She’s an independent scholar of early modern
English literature and an eclectic assortment of other topics, and
she blogs on Mormon issues at timesandseasons.org.
Finally, to hear more of (and to purchase!!!) the wonderful music included in the podcast, please check out: claytonpixton.com and skyepixton.com
We hope you enjoy!!!
Re: Rosalynde’s comments about whether first-wave Feminists were interested in happiness or personal satisfaction: see the Declaration of Sentiments (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_Falls_Declaration_of_Sentiments), from the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3420), by Mary Wollstonecraft. They provide pretty clear textual evidence that early Feminists were indeed interested in such issues for their own sake; this wasn’t a development which originated with the second wave.
The concern about anachronism versus sensibility to the rhetorical nature of public statements. Thanks for a vigorous discussion.
When are we getting to Mormonism?
The 3 Claudia Bushman interviews are all about Mormonism.
You should check them out.
I just now listened to this. Thanks, all. It was a pleasure to hear this discussion by two of my favorite women in the church.
Yes, I found this quite enjoyable and interesting as well. I find that Rosalynde really challenges me because her position as maybenotafeminist is so foreign to me. Like the idea that abortion and feminism are so totally bound together is one I haven’t felt personally. I never thought of abortion as a top tier feminist issue, though reproductive rights and freedoms in general, access to birth control, a legal right to refuse sexual intercourse, and so on, seem in general quite important. I see the larger issues revolving around right to work, right to vote, right to own property and not to BE property, rights of self-determination, domestic violence and murder, education, etc. The idea that some unintended consequences that maybe aren’t so great have come in as natural consequences of those good things happening is one that I haven’t had to think through before. It’s an interesting challenge to my current thoughts.
Taryn was great because she argued exactly what I would have said to each of the issues under discussion. I hope you do more of these type discussions. I got a lot out of it.
John, I too loved your mea culpa about neglecting women and women’s issues for so long in Mormon Stories podcasts. I’m willing to forgive you after a few dozen more or so of great pieces like this one. =)
Oh, one more thing I want to say in general about these Mormon Matters and Mormon Stories podcasts both: I absolutely love how many of John’s questions seem to arise from the conversation that has taken place so far. He’s not just reading from a list, and ignoring the answers, the way many interviewers do. He’s actually thinking about what his guests say while they say it, and asking thoughtful questions to probe more deeply into the topics that arise. I love that! It makes for a really engaging conversation between John and his guests.
Thanks for the interesting discussion, John, T N-S, and RW.
Taryn, thanks for posting the links, and I do urge everybody to follow them—because I of course feel that they clearly support my position! Wollstonecraft and the Seneca Falls delegates used an Enlightenment argot of rights, privileges, enfranchisement, and natural law. There’s no mention of finding personal fulfillment through professional achievement; instead the idiom is one of achieving virtue and inherent human dignity. Of course, early feminists were not unique in this sense: nobody talked about finding personal fulfillment through professional achievement at the time. Instead, one attained virtue through service, duty, and obligation.
I would like to clarify my comments on whether or not podcasting (and blogging) should be approached in moral terms. I left the impression that I think blogging and podcasting are insignificant, and thus anything goes. I do think bloggers and podcasters are prone to inflate the significance of their projects, but nevertheless I want to make it clear that I believe they are absolutely accountable for what appears on thir blog or podcast. The point I was trying (ineptly) to make was that viewing one’s project as either a therapeutic or penitential endeavor is likely to decrease its journalistic and historical utility. Therapeutic or penitential projects have their own uses, of course.
Bravo, I really enjoyed your stand. You stated your position eloquently and succinctly. I have some feminist leanings, being raised with 5 sisters and no brothers might do that to you, but there is something about the mindset that has always put me off in some measure. You captured it beautifully. We live in such ME culture. This is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as I understand it. That doesn’t mean I don’t see a need in the Church for working to meet every need for the spiritual growth and development of our Women. Nor does it mean I don’t feel there are ways in which the Church could do much better in this regard. It is just that ultimately, our greatest happiness will be found in our service to others. I just don’t see any hint of that idea in modern feminist rhetoric.
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I wanted to say that I really appreciated both Rosalynde and Taryn’s thoughts on my interview. I think the critique of my narrative that both Rosalynde and Taryn made was right on: that the narrative of self-actualization is not sufficient, though, of course, I do think that it’s present.
I would say that I think all the waves of feminism have had an element of self-actualization, but have also had narratives of duty, responsibility, social justice, etc. For example, if we look at eco-feminism, which is a late 20th-century feminist movement, it’s a element of feminism that focuses on women using their power in their families and communities to try and protect the earth and their local and community environments. So, I think feminism has always had both narratives of self-actualization and duty/obligation (and other narratives as well). I chose the narrative of self-actualization because I think it’s a central one, and because it was one of the easiest narratives to use in order to talk about 150 years of feminist history (which is really hard to do in an hour!). But anyway, I really appreciated what Rosalynde and Tayrn had to say about this narrative choice.
As for Rosalynde’s concluding thoughts, I thought her thoughts on the unintended cultural consequences of feminism was a milder form of the backlash we see against feminism (i.e. feminists get blamed for increasing levels of divorce, the dissolution of the family, etc.) which I don’t think is entirely fair. Now, since Rosalynde wasn’t being specific, I’m not sure what she’s referring to when she talks about unintended cultural consequences or to what extent she blames feminism, but I’m wary about blaming feminism (solely) for large-scale cultural changes. (Though I will add that I think there are many things that feminism gets wrong and that feminism is not without fault on a number of fronts.)
Thank you all for the interesting discussion. It’s always interesting to hear/read what Rosalynde will say next–in a good way for me.