Sunday, February 6, 2011

women's lives, women's voices

I have mentioned on here that I am new to Mormon feminism, but boy howdy, I am glad that I'm here. Yesterday I attending the loveliest of conferences for Mormon women. The theme of the talk was "Women's Lives, Women's Voices", and many women with exceptional credentials in academia shared their hopes and dreams for the lives of Mormon women.

The location of the conference was Claremont Graduate University, a divinity school, and the only school with a Mormon chair and a Mormon studies program. The Mormon chair is newly filled by a man who is a graduate of both BYU and Notredam, and spent three years in Cairo, Egypt.

I was enthralled to hear Aileen Clyde, former 2nd Counselor to the General Relief Society, speak on her experience in law. She was part of a Utah committee that spent a year studying the affects of gender-bias attitudes in law, especially in workplace law. Several other women, most with postgraduate degrees, gave papers on their topics of study relating to Mormon woman. These women are working on a project of recording and transcribing the stories of Mormon women. The aim of these goals is to get Mormon women to share their stories so we can have a greater understanding and appreciation of the struggles and joys of the Mormon woman life. Not only to be studied in the academic realm, but for Mormon women to learn from each other. As part of this project, they asked every woman in attendance to share a short story. I can talk more about the story I shared later.

I was fascinated to hear a Mormon woman, Emily Clyde Curtis, talk about her experience of going to divinity school and working as a chaplain in trauma units in a hospital in Boston. She urges all women to share their stories, because our understanding of women in the scriptures, and in Church history, isn't very sophisticated or nuanced. For example, look at Emma Smith. How much does the average Church member know about her, or can appreciate the trials she went through? I certainly don't know as much about her as I'd like to. If Emma had recorded her personal history, we would probably have a better picture of Emma as a whole person, and not just in a black and white way.

There were several other talks and topics I found so pertinent, necessary, and revelatory. I'll discuss more of these talks in future posts. But the conference was simply thrilling for me for many reasons: to be able to see other Mormon women making great efforts and strides towards collecting and legitimizing Mormon woman history in the academic and public realms, and to meet some great women as well.

Anyhow, I am excited to tell my readers more about this conference in upcoming posts. Have a happy week, friends.

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