Some leaders say
hells gosh yeah, like church spokesman Michael Purdy, who told the L.A. Times that "Men and women are complete equals in the sight of God and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." That's nice! But actions speak louder than words, and the church's actions beg to differ.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently reduced the age requirement for missionaries to 18 for men and 19 for women; that's a one year and two year difference, respectively. Men, however, will still serve for two years, as opposed to just 18 months for women. Why won't officials allow women to serve for as long as men, and why do they have to wait until they're 19?
"One miracle at a time," church leader Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said when asked that question. Excellent deflection strategy; I'm going to start employing that phrase when my roommates ask me why I forgot to buy toilet paper for the second day running. Seriously though: how can you talk realistically about women's rights when progress is referred to as "miraculous" instead of "necessary" or "a long time coming"?
Some Mormons who call themselves feminists don't understand why men still control the management of the church if women are so supposedly equal. Women aren't allowed to be priests, or even lead church meetings without a man present, and while the church insists that women's roles aren't lesser, just "different," who wants to be different if different means treated as lesser than?
Although the Mormon feminist movement is growing, 58% of American Mormons still think that the more "satisfying kind of marriage" is one in which the husband is the provider and the wife is the homemaker, according to the Pew Research Center. "The church is never going to [ascribe] to a particular vision of feminism that aspires to eradicate all differences between men and women," said Terryl Givens, a Mormon professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Ooh, that "particular" form of feminism that purports that all people should be treated equally.
In other words: The church loves women! They have a ton of female friends! But that doesn't mean its leaders think women should have the same opportunities as men.
So how can self-described feminists also be Mormon? Some insist that they're equal to men, like Rebecca Lane, editor of the Universe student newspaper at Brigham Young University, who said that she disagreed that the church was sexist because she's a "woman in power." She also said "Women are admired in our faith."
But "admired" and "equal" are not the same, which is why Mormon author Jana Riess said the new missionary age requirements were an example of "progress with an asterisk."
"It's just not equality, and after a few glorious moments of believing it would be, that stings," she said.