Is Relief Society Hopelessly Irrelevant?
Are there role models for Mormon Women?


Subject: Ladies - Did the "Relief Society" ever strike any of you as hopelessly irrelevant??
Date: Oct 05, 2007
Author: Lucyfer

You have to forgive me - my father was a professor of Victorian literature and I was reading Charles Dickens' novels by the time I was about 9 years old. If you know anything about the Victorian era, either in England or here in the US, the whole Relief Society thing seems so incredibly well...19th century!

When the Relief Society was formed by Emma Smith, it was a very fashionable thing for well-bred ladies to do. There were hundreds of such groups being formed at the time -"Ladies Aid Societies" were all the rage. Middle and upper class women of leisure who had little else to occupy their time set up organizations to minister aid to those less fortunate. During times of war, this meant providing aid to soldiers, but these societies also helped lots of other impoverished or disenfranchised groups. To have the time (and money) to devote to these causes was a sign of economic prosperity, social status and proper christian values. It was what nice ladies of a certain class *did* in the mid to late 1800s.

As formal non-profit agencies and charities developed, there was less and less call for these ad-hoc Ladies Aid Societies and they gradually fell by the wayside. The repeal of prohibition in the 1930s pretty much put the last nail in the coffin of this quaint, but no longer relevant or effective, social custom. Well, every where except in the Mormon Church, that is.

So here is my question - did it ever strike anyone that the "Relief Society" was essentially a Victorian Ladies Aid Society that just never grew up? Did it seem sort of embarrassing to be pushed into a women's organization that was for all intents and purposes set up to meet the interests, goals and needs of 19th century women? Do any of the current TBM females realize how utterly and hopelessly out of date this whole organization appears to anyone with half a brain? Is this whole stupid thing maintained just to give Mormon women something to *do* - a girls club where they can pretend to have some influence?

I just don't get it - please help me understand!


Subject: Re: Ladies - Did the "Relief Society" ever strike any of you as hopelessly irrelevant??
Date: Oct 05 19:27
Author: No Moniker

A few years ago a friend and I went to see the remake of the Stepford Wifes. There is a scene where a wife (Bette Midler, I think) is giving a little homemaking lesson.

We, at the same time, said out loud "OMG, it's Relief Society!". Several others in the theatre snickered along with us.


Subject: Waste of time for me.
Date: Oct 05 19:28
Author: sunny

It was just a chance for the local busybodies to gossip and sound superior and chastising by pointing out how great and blessed they were and how horrible everyone else was.


Subject: Hmmm - pretty much the same as in the 19th century
Date: Oct 05 19:30
Author: Lucyfer

I think that is what the old ladies clubs were for, really.



Subject: Yes!!
Date: Oct 05 19:38
Author: corn chowder

Once we hit the lesson on how to get your children ready for church in a way to keep the house reverent, I realized without a doubt that RS was the most quaint, out-dated, and condescending organization. I'm sure it didn't help that at the time I was a single woman in my late 20's.

But still - it seemed a shame to be segregated in that fashion for instruction on Sundays. I would have rather had in-depth religious instructions instead of "how we can best serve our man and help him lead our family" lessons. Ick.


Subject: Depended on the ward.
Date: Oct 06 00:51
Author: JoAnn

The ward I first joined as a convert was in rural Louisiana. Most of the members were converts, and there wasn't any of the social stratification you see as you get closer to Utah. There were occasionally a few people from SLC who went around with their noses in the air, but they were promptly shunned by everybody else and either knocked off the snobbishness or left.

Many of the women were close friends with each other, and RS was a chance to let our hair down, away from the men folks. There was a lot of lively gossip, joking, helping each other with wiggly kids (who suddenly had a zillion different laps to sit on, and loved it.)

There wasn't the suffocating feeling of being strangled in a corset of religion. It was a lot different. More like extended family.

I might still be in the church if I had stayed there. Of course, I wouldn't have met the love of my life if I had remained there, so all in all, things have worked out very nicely.


Subject: I especially disliked the homemaking/enrichment meetings.
Date: Oct 05 19:54
Author: Patti

I hated having to make some stupid craft project I didn't want. And then they would collect money from everyone for the materials! You would think with all the money that memebers pay in tithing they could at least provide those things for relief society members. And if I want to do a craft, or learn a new skill, I would rather do it by myself.

The last few years I was going to church I only went to those meetings when I had to teach one.


Subject: Re: Ladies - Did the "Relief Society" ever strike any of you as hopelessly irrelevant??
Date: Oct 05 20:00
Author: NorthIdahoExMo
Mail Address:  

I could never figure out why learning to sponge paint your walls or tie quilts was so freakin' important. That and toll painting. I swear, for years my mom thought toll painting was #2 in importance for mormon wives. Number one of course being keeping up on the food supply.


Subject: Sorry to be ignorant, but what is toll painting?
Date: Oct 05 20:17
Author: Lucyfer

I never heard that expression before - what is it?

So, what happens in "Relief Society" on Sunday mornings? When the Peter Priesthoods are having their little pow-wow, what do the ladies do? Is it like church stuff, or is it homemaking stuff?

I am a nevermo, so I am clueless.


Subject: toll painting . . .
Date: Oct 05 20:25
Author: NorthIdahoExMo

that annoying "cutesy" country style decorative painting. For about 4 years, my mom wasted her time driving all over the city looking for craft stores that had sales on arcrylic paint in gold #47 or candy apple red (not fire engine) so she do her craft projects with the RS sisters. Cute little wooden "families are forever" signs and wooden sheep wrapped in yarn. Now she is trying to pawn them all off on me. . ..


Subject: Re: Ladies - Did the "Relief Society" ever strike any of you as hopelessly irrelevant??
Date: Oct 05 20:31
Author: ruthm

I always wondered why they never provided "relief" for anyone since that was the whole point in the group. All the sucky crafts and lessons on how to make your children be reverent have nothing to do with helping anyone. I hated relief society, and would skip it frequently as well. I thought they should actually be doing some charity work or something.


Subject: NO! You NEED to know -
Date: Oct 05 20:32
Author: Susan I/S

how to make a Santa Sleigh out of a turkey carcass, slippers out of maxi pads and angels out of tampons! Those are IMPORTANT skills!

BTW, I thought I was the only one in grade school that was a Dickens-a-holic. He is still one of my favs, do Great Ex and DC at least once a year and rotate on the others :).


Subject: Ack! These are crafts on CRACK!!!
Date: Oct 05 20:49
Author: Lucyfer

Horrors! I refuse to make crafts out of feminine hygiene products - it is just one of those silly boundaries I happen to have.

Ah - A fellow Dickensian freak! I have read everything this man ever wrote and I love it all. My Dad wrote a great book called "Convivial Dickens" which is sadly out of print now (although I hear it can be had on Ebay). This book is a charming study on the role of alcoholic beverages in Dear Charles' novels - complete with recipes (YUM!!!) I must say I love this book - even if my dear Daddy had not written it, it would still be fab plus!



Subject: I wondered what was wrong with RS. Actually, we used to refer to it as the "stitch and bitch club."
Date: Oct 05 20:36
Author: Ghost

We moved to another state, and the BP called DH and I in for an interview.

After my DH's response to the question, "How do you feel about RS?" being "She thinks it's the stitch and bitch club!" the calling of RS president was not extended. Thank you, DH.

I hated RS with a passion. It was a terrible waste of time. It was boring. It was a mix of one-up-man-ship and gawd-awful irrelevant lessons.

You didn't miss a thing!


Subject: Relief Society
Date: Oct 05 20:38
Author: VeritaSerum

Tole painting:

I used to be a Relief Society Teacher. I was the youngest person in the class (by a LOT) and have no children but I got to pass on pearls of wisdom about raising children. Every freakin time. It was ALWAYS about raising children. The kicker- not one person in the class had children at home. I was in a newlywed and nearlydead ward. All the other young people were in primary and YW but my MIL was in the RSP so I "got" to be a relief society teacher. Thanks...


Subject: Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote contemptuously of relief societies
Date: Oct 05 20:44
Author: Reading Emerson

in many of his essays. The one titled "Self-Reliance" comes to mind. He was contemporaneous with Joseph Smith and the early church.

So even then some found Relief Societies "hopelessly irrelevant", Lucyfer. :)

Oh, yeah, and to answer your question, I was always glad when I got a Primary calling and didn't have to attend. :P


Subject: I didn't know Ralph had such good sense!
Date: Oct 05 20:54
Author: Lucyfer

I think Mark Twain made some remarks in this vein and of course, Dickens had a wicked sense of humor and made fun of just about everyone - ladies included :-)

Yes, I suspect the Ladies' Aid Societies did far more for the vanity of the ladies than they ever really did to "aid" anyone. So much the better that most of them died out.

Ah well - Mormons never did let a bad idea die out now, did they?


Subject: Actually, those Ladies Aid Societies still exist elsewhere,......
Date: Oct 05 20:49
Author: Belle

with the other relics...the Southern Ladies' Gardening Clubs. Which have nothing to do with gardening.


Subject: Making pioneer ladies out of Mrs. Butterworth bottles.
Date: Oct 05 20:52
Author: Makurosu

That's what my wife was doing one night in Homemaking meeting. It was unendurable for her. She smashed hers out in the parking lot, came home and slammed all the doors. That was the last time she ever went.


Subject: One evening we were supposed to make a clown using an egg for a face and fabric for the body.
Date: Oct 05 20:55
Author: Ghost

Another gal was hopelessly showing people how to make origami boxes.

That was the LAST time I went!


Subject: Much of the RS I attended in the 60's and 70's and on was educational and informative.
Date: Oct 05 21:03
Author: SusieQ#1

We studied countries, literature, (still own "Out of the Best Books" series),had guest speakers in all kinds of subjects from fixing a tire, checking the fluids in our cars, to planning a funeral, and understanding our taxes, how to make a dollar stretch, how to live on stored food supplies, and on and on. We made items to donate to seniors, for instance.

We had lessons on all the volunteer organizations in our area, visited senior centers, and signed up to work at the soup kitchens. We learned many skills. Some I still use today: family hair cutting, quilting, etc.


Subject: Yes, RS used to be actually enjoyable sometimes, in California.
Date: Oct 06 01:55
Author: Earth Mother

That was before the Priesthood put themselves in charge. The Relief Society could make their own money, and spend it on their own outside charity projects! We could visit nursing homes and other charities. We had the "Singing Sisters," and would go to the Veterans hospitals, and the Kiwanis Club and other places at Christmastime. This was not in Utah. We felt part of the rest of the community. My mother was Relief Society President for 6 years. Our particular ward had an area of extreme poverty, and she worked hard with those charity cases--getting them food and clothing, and we would make them blankets, and one RS member was a wonderful doctor, and we would even take children into our home for a few days, during a chrisis.

RS really did offer relief on a very personal, neighborhood level. The priesthood wanted to have RS more regulated and institutional. They didn't like the fact we made so much money with our bazaar's, so they said we couldn't do that anymore. All those hand-made decorations, blankets, sweaters, baby clothes, baked goods, etc. was originally created to SELL for charity, not just for occupational therapy for bored ladies. So, we took inventory in the local Nordsrtom's and May Company stores, and made even more money doing that. Again, the Priesthood stopped us.

Instead of the interesting, individualized, cultural refinement and cooking lessons, lectures from local professionals (pediatricians, elder care pros, tax experts, gardeners, psychologists, travelers,whatever) and Best Books, we were given a boring standardized MANUAL, just like the Sunday School and Primary. UGH!

I got so sick of hearing yet another lesson on "Honoring The Priesthood" and "Temple Work."


Subject: As a favor to a friend, I went to RS for the first time...
Date: Oct 05 21:04
Author: Harmony

after 4 yrs of stimulating (and a few not so stimulating) college courses. It was like being thrown back to grade school...without the fun.


Subject: Ok - apparently, RS is intended to make women feel as childish and useless as possible?
Date: Oct 05 21:14
Author: Lucyfer

Everything posted so far pretty much says that Mormonism defines women as -

a. Eternal children
b. Stupid or vapid or both
c. Useless - they have nothing better to do with their time than make ridiculous and utterly useless crafts.

What else is there to say?

It is amazing that women come out of this with a shred of dignity and self esteem intact. This just screams - YOU ARE WORTH NOTHING!!!


Subject: I also learned how to can, cook all kinds of meals from other countries in RS as well as making
Date: Oct 05 21:16
Author: SusieQ#1

items to donate for the annual Bazaars that was the money making project that supported RS each year. I attended those in at least three states.

Those were some of the most fantastic events I ever attended.
I bought hand made clothes for my children, and all kinds of items for our home and for gifts.
Current day RS is much different, of course. All those fantastic classes and events have been canceled.


Subject: Suzie, I think you must have attended in the Golden Years of Mormonism
Date: Oct 05 21:22
Author: Julie

back when things were actually fun. I remember attending some of those bazaars when I was a little girl. My mom used to attend one of the craft booths, and my favorite babysitter ran the fingernail painting booth. For ten cents I got my nails painted sparkly pink. Then I could hardly wait for my nails to dry before running over to the bake sale table to select my choices from a vast variety of home made cookies and cupcakes. I loved those bazaars! Too bad the church doesn't do anything like that anymore.


Subject: Re: Suzie, I think you must have attended in the Golden Years of Mormonism
Date: Oct 05 21:27
Author: SusieQ#1

I sure did! Those were great times for the whole family. Too bad they stopped all those events.
We used to do Road Shows and Dance Festivals also. They were fantastic events. My grown kids have fond memories of those times!


Subject: I once taught a homemaking night class on soft sculpture doll making....
Date: Oct 05 21:16
Author: Julie

The hideous things looked a lot like these:

It was a ridiculous waste of time. No, I did not volunteer. My mother volunteered my services. Thanks Mom.

Luckily I soon married an evil non-mo, so I never had to go back to RS again.


Subject: Let's reframe the discussion - what if TSCC suddenly asked the men to ...
Date: Oct 05 21:29
Author: Lucyfer

Have a lovely weekly class in woodworking, or car mechanics or taking out the trash, or other such "manly" nonsense.

Would the men put up with this silliness?

So why do the women?


Subject: Re: Let's reframe the discussion - what if TSCC suddenly asked the men to ...
Date: Oct 05 22:00
Author: Patti

This has nothing to do with Relief Society, but Lucyfer's remark about the men taking special classes reminded me of a class the sisters were required to attend at the MTC [missionary training center] in the early eighties. I don't remember the actual name, but we called it Miss America class. About once a week we all got together to learn about personal hygiene, how to put on make-up, how to sit, what hair style was best for our face shape, and even how to be lady-like as we knelt down for prayers in a skirt. The strange thing is that there was no such class for the guys. And some of them could have used the personal hygiene lessons more than the sisters! I heard later that the classes had been discontinued some time after I left.


Subject: By the early nineties, the classes had become a single lecture.
Date: Oct 06 01:18
Author: Tyson Dunn

And I know this because I had the misfortune of trying to interpret it for French sisters in attendance once. As if I would have known any of the words for the feminine hygiene products, clothing types, etc. It was a royal pain and the sisters all looked at me as if I had just fallen off the moon, which I might as well have.



Subject: Re: Ladies - Did the "Relief Society" ever strike any of you as hopelessly irrelevant??
Date: Oct 06 01:14
Author: JackMormon'sWife

Omigod, yes! I ditched R.S. any time I could.

Jack's Wife
Shannon ;o)


Subject: I recall my grandmother at her RS meetings--in the sisters' homes...
Date: Oct 06 01:56
Author: Adult of god

I was just a girl in the 1940's and 50's, but I can still see them laughing and having fun quilting. They were not automatically enrolled in RS like today and they paid dues. It seemed like RS was for older women.

As a young woman I learned from those older women how to quilt very well myself. Those are memorable times. I have no knowledge of plastic grapes or carcass sleighs (??).

By the time RS was part of the Sunday block, most of the life was squeezed out (although there were some wonderful older women that I loved). It was just another church meeting.
The meetings were quiet and boring, especially after the content was restricted to the approved stuff--the lessons were all faith-promoting stories about men! Yaaaawn.

I suspect that RS was a vital organization for a lot of women early on (when women ran it themselves), but now when I hear church leaders brag that RS is the largest women's organization in the world, I smirk.

If you've been baptized and you're female (and you're under 110), you're a member of the RS! Whether you're aware of it or not.


Subject: Relief Society: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Date: Oct 06 02:04
Author: Midwest Miss

When I lived in a singles ward full of professional single women, med school men, and, well, a lot of weird guys, we had some really wonderful R.S. lessons because we got to put the lessons together ourselves. We had a tax lawyer give advice in April, we had a survival expert talking about preparedness. Most of the ad hoc lessons were intelligent and fun. Then TSCC [this so called church] steps in and makes everything uniform. It felt like a rehash of Sunday School only even more boring and pointless.

When I moved to a family ward I had a R.S. "sister" (local ward royalty because they had lots of kids) take a distinct dislike to me. I found out years later it was because I had once asked her daughter, nicely, to talk a little more quietly in church as I could not hear the speaker. Her daughter was about 17 years old. Anyway, she would always take snide pot shots at me whenever possible and I didn't know why. Then one day I brought a non-member friend to church with me. My friend heard one of the zingers from my "sister" and said "If anyone talked to me like that I'd punch them in the mouth!" What a great opportunity to make a good impression on a visitor.

I'm so glad to be out. I've not been treated so rudely since leaving TSCC. And none of that's even the reason I left. But it makes leaving all that much easier.


Subject: Who are the Mormon Female Role Models???
Date: Oct 06, 2007
Author: lj

As a female, I want to know who are the mormon female role models? The way the church is structured it doesn't create a whole lot of female roles models; I can think of a small handful that I looked up to as a TBM. As I about it more I realized that the women put in "leadership" roles are not in their positions very long, maybe a few years, and those token roles given to them are are very limited. On the other hand, GA positions are only occupied by men; they will also have opportunity to advance and move up the ranks, and are able to remain in their positions for life. Additionally, the men are given more opportunities for public appearances and talks in general conference than women. Mormon children grow up wanting to meet these men or be these men but the women are moved in and out so frequently that it's hard to keep track of them.

I'm just need to vent, but I think that there should be more equal opportunities given to women in TSCC; instead providing it's members with lame excuses given for why the men are unwilling to relinquish some of their power.


Subject: A couple of potential female LDS role models - albeit from my limited XY perspective
Date: Oct 06 01:53
Author: conformingsheep

OK - I'm a male. So it's kind of hard to envision who may or might not be a good female role model.

I have a couple of possible candidates with noted caveats:

Sherry Dew - she didn't need a man to be RS General President. But then again, that was probably a concession to writing the prophet's autobiography.

Eliza Snow - she held the reins for a long time and went through a bunch of stuff. But then again, she was of "royal birth" through the Smith line if my former TBM memory serves me right.

Gladys Knight - breaking down racial barriers entering the church later on in her adult life. The church hasn't used her for any PR purposes - have they?

Elaine Jack - She looks like a nice lady. I remember a couple of good talks and she wrote a book. People seemed to like her. I think she was in RS for a while. But then again, maybe she just got lucky for her tenure.

I guess there aren't too many female rock star headliners from my perspective. When I was growing up I had Danny Ainge, Dale Murphy, Steve Young, Orrin Hatch, and some of the apostles who have good professional resumes and a functioning brain (even if its full of cognitive dissonance) i.e. Oaks and Maxwell.

My dad would take me to priesthood and give me bios, which would give me a little bit of background to help keep me awake while they spoke. It gave me some motivation to keep in school - but then again, I can get that from any co-worker or professional educator.

Just seems silly to limit your role models to a few LDS folks. What a sad LDS cultural phenomena.


Subject: Re: XX perspective
Date: Oct 06 02:05
Author: lj

Did any of those bios included any females? As a young man I'm sure it may not have crossed your mind about the lack of females. However, as a young TBM girl, I really looked forward to the Women speakers because I thought their talks were more interesting. I remember always being disappointed that there weren't more women to listen to. The unbalance was one of many reasons that I left.


Subject: Confessions of a Stake "Self-Esteem" Speaker
Date: Oct 06 04:29
Author: Anagrammy

Back in the eighties we (meaning women speakers) would go speak at Stake "Self=Esteem" Days. It was the most frequently requested topic. Of course we all know why--but have you ever wondered what ever happened to the Super Moms? We wrote books and gave seminars on how to do more. I'll never forget the example repeated over and over-- the rocks in the glass vase and then you put in pebbles, then gravel and although it appeared full, Voila! you could still get some rice to go in. It was supposed to show that you shouldn't turn down a calling because you had hidden capacity that God would reveal if you...just got up earlier... just prayed a little more...just gave a little more....more...more.
I had some early "wakeup" experiences, creepy really, that gave me that gut queasy feeling talked about here, that suspicion something is deeply, deeply wrong. I'm telling people how to match socks more easily and other big family management tips. They're thanking me and adding, brightly, that they were going to commit suicide before taking my family management class, but I helped them "so much." The bright lipstick and the Stepford smiles and the more-than-a-handful of suicidal women lead me to decide that helping Mormon women required a professional psychiatrist, not the "be happy like me/fascade-maintaining/secret doubt-hiding" phony that I had become. All of us were lying to each other at the Relief Society. No one real, no one.


Subject: As a TBM I liked Emma, for her spunkiness. Little did I know that I'd leave, too.nt


Subject: Re: Who are the Mormon Female Role Models???
Date: Oct 06 05:51
Author: choc_mool

What about our lovely (whispering, and glancing around ...) mother in heaven? She is obedient, a great housekeeper, a wonderful mother of untold hordes of children, a helpmeet to her priesthood holder. Notice, the silence in which she lives her life means that we never hear her voice, but the bubble of silence even quells any articulation about her, besides the (I'm not sure that's doctrine) tangential references in hymns and JOD.

The way in which the church treats women is inexcusable. I vote for a coup. Anyone in RS leadership positions who could maybe quilt semi-feminist statements into the blanket of the week, or maybe start referring to the food ya'll make in empowering terms (female power potatoes, my worth is not dependent on my husband's priesthood position jello, stopping after two is ok cookies, having a career does not mean I am condemning spirits in the pre-existence to live with non member families cake, I do not have to overeat to hide my unhappiness punch, women have no priesthood because men are power-hungry bastards, not because we are more righteous jam, etc)?


Subject: Oh, oh, you forgot the woman who in mormon history, admired for her strength and critical thinking:
Date: Oct 06 08:18
Author: choc_mool

[I can't think of any]


Subject: For that matter where are the male role models...(bad word)
Date: Oct 06 10:35
Author: et in Utah ego

...who aren't some businessman? After all there's more to life than contributing to the exploitation of your fellow man...


Subject: Well it's certainly NOT Sheri Dew
Date: Oct 06 09:45
Author: VeritaSerum

Because she's not married. The only thing she is a role-model of is a consolation prize. "Wow, even though she's not married, she's not tooo pitiful. See ladies, you can still work (and give your 10%) while waiting for Mr Right to come along. It happened for Wendy Watson and maybe just maybe it'll happen for Sheri too"


Subject: They had to drag Emma out of pergatory to serve as a role model.
Date: Oct 06 09:59
Author: Stray Mutt

Up until about 25 years ago, Emma Smith [Joseph Smith's first wife] was mostly reviled by the church for breaking with the Brighamites and not supporting polygamy. Sure, she was mentioned when absolutely necessary as the wife of Joseph Smith, but was otherwise stuffed in the closet.

But with the rise of the women's movement the brethren realized about all they had in the way of positive female characters was Eliza R. Snow. So Emma was dragged out of storage, cleaned up, mythologized, and presented as the paragon of perfect LDS wife and mother -- the kind who would uncomplainingly tend to domestic life and defer to her mighty priesthood holder, not like the actual Emma who gave Joseph a ton of grief over his shinanigans and had to be smacked down in D&C 132.


Subject: Are you asking for my list of "10 COW WOMEN"?
Date: Oct 06 10:04
Author: Walking in Darkness

It escapes me whether that was an apocryphal story from conference or one of those hideous LDS FP movies. However, at the time I wondered what women were thinking about being compared to a herd of cattle.


Subject: Oh, my goodness! I remember that awful COW story! Summed up below:
Date: Oct 07 03:06
Author: Virginia

It was this movie they made us watch as teenagers . . . There was a woman who was considered ugly, but a man came along (the most desired man) and offered her father TEN COWS for her. This was a massive number for this small village.

And being desired like this MADE THE WOMAN TURN BEAUTIFUL!!! Suddenly she was the most beautiful woman in the village, because a man had recognized her as worth TEN COWS!

And I thought this was TOUCHING as a teen.


Subject: there were many
Date: Oct 06 10:06
Author: tol

they were the women in the talks - they always supported their husbands, gave unselfishly, loved motherhood, loved housekeeping, played the piano, sang beautifully, dressed modestly, would faint at the mention of something unseemly, talked quietly, help unceasingly, forgave unconditionally, obeyed unquestioningly, made matching dresses and ties for the entire family, cried softly while bearing a testimony, wrote amazing prose in her journal, had a warm dinner ready when hubby came home, never needed anything, always self sacrificing, prayerful, thoughtful, a bit shy, read the scriptures daily, always home when the children came home from school, did not work, kept an immaculate home . . .

And occasionally they would commit suicide - like my SIL.


Subject: Carol Lynn Pearsonj
Date: Oct 06 10:07
Author: NormaRae

Carol Lynn Pearson is still one of my role models. She was a Mormon Feminist before they had a name or a Website. But she had a way of building women up that "the bretheren" couldn't pinpoint, hence she never suffered the fate of The September Seven.


Subject: I have her poetry
Date: Oct 06 10:12
Author: tol

I loved her work in college and as a dancer I was in a multimedia piece that used one of her poems. I left the church 18 years ago and just recently I rebought - beginnings.

Then I attended her opening of Facing East and she was there and I had the opportunity to meet her.
She is gracious, kind, brave, outspoken, thoughtful.

She is certainly a role model for me.


Subject: If you mean the website titled...
Date: Oct 06 10:38
Author: et in Utah ego

"Feminist Mormon Housewives," its not very feminist. I had to stop myself from replying to some of the silly threads there---life's too short to try to sort out the convoluted and twisted thinking there.


Subject: Re: If you mean the website titled...
Date: Oct 07 03:11
Author: Virginia

I've been to that site as well! I was looking for information to refute a belief of my TBM sisters, and that site (useless to my research) somehow came up. I wondered why feminists would call themselves "housewives," of course, but the most depressing thing I noticed (as I got caught up in reading some of the comments) was that many of them had NO idea what feminist meant! I did post the definition (and it was my FIRST EVER online chat post besides here at ExMo): Feminism: the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

I also ordered a bumper sticker saying just that after going to my MidWestern (nonMo, but all our neighbors are retired) block party wearing one of my "This is what a feminist looks like" shirts and being stared at in horror, as if it said: I want to eat your children. Burp.

One neighbor even said they needed to get my husband a shirt that stood up for him. I said, "Why? He's a feminist." And they all got embarrassed and walked away. I was severely depressed.


Subject: I was actually just thinking about this...
Date: Oct 06 10:28
Author: et in Utah ego

The recent death of former govenor Rampton brought this incident involving his wife, Lucybeth, to mind:

Around 1975 or 1976, the U of U held a "women's conference." My memory is that it was the first such thing there and it was obviously in response to the general feminism in the air and the good work of the Womens' Resource Center on campus (shout out to Maggie Wilde wherever you are!).

On panel discussion on women in education featured Lucybeth Rampton. She spoke about how wonderful and fascinating it was to her to return to college as an adult student (IIRC she earned a masters in anthrolopology). Despite the happiness she found in her studies she had one regret: that she had not followed up on her studies as a young woman. But, as she pointed out, women didn't used to have a great deal of choices, you followed your mothers into wedlock and childbearing and that was that. So, although she had received a greal deal of satisfaction from her recent school work, she was still disappointed that it was only personal fulfillment; she would never be "using" her knowledge and degrees out in the wider world and contributing to the good of the greater humanity.

Her point, then, was something like "You young women now have opportunities that women like myself didn't. Use them to explore the world and have the happiest and most rewarding of lives following your interests, expanding your minds and becoming truly useful contributors to the world."

All in all a nice talk with a fairly moderate message.

The next speaker was....Relief Society president? Not sure, but at least some high-up RS muckety-muck. She started her talk/sermon with a sad glance backward over her shoulder at Lucybeth, a deep sigh and then in that horriblly smarmy and condescending RS voice began:

"It would be very, very foolish to assume as Mrs. Rampton has done that there are new opportunities and paths for women for we know that the only truly correct path to happiness is by becoming a wife and mother...blah, blah, blah..."

I honestly don't think I've seen a more rude public display in my life. But then being arrogant around nonmembers is what mormons are pretty much trained for.

I also remember that much vaunted "role model" mormon "poet" Emma Lou Thayne writing in...the New Era?...that some good did come from her being an English major in college. For example, when her children skinned their knees she could comfort them by telling them stories....of greek myths....(!!!!)


Subject: Barbie. You know, the doll with the perfect body who always had that scary smile on her face.
Date: Oct 06 14:18
Author: Deborah

Big hair, big boobs, tiny waist, long legs.

I'm being quite serious here. While no one ever came right out and said so, this was what we were all supposed to be. Drop-dead gorgeous (because God wouldn't have it any other way) and never ever doing anything but smiling like we had eternal access to the best combination of medications ever concocted.

How to attain that? By being P.E.R.F.E.C.T. in everything we did.


Subject: Do you know the origin of the Barbie doll? It's appropriate in a way.
Date: Oct 06 15:17
Author: Stray Mutt

Barbie started out as a German doll named Bild Lilli who started out as a cartoon character. Lilli was a golddigging career girl and sexually liberated, and some considered her an amateur prostitute.

Ruth Handler of Mattel saw a Lilli doll in Europe, which led to Mattel buying the rights -- and radically cleaning up the doll's reputation. the post-war German slut became the All-American Perfect Girl Next Door.



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