The Mormon 'F' Word

If you will bear with me for a moment, I'm going to discuss what I like to call the Mormon 'F' word - more commonly known as feminism. It is always interesting to experience the different reactions when I say the word feminism. Too often the implicit response is, " are one of THOSE women." Whatever that is supposed to mean. Usually THOSE women means one of those that hates, men, burns bras, thinks women should dominate the world, or isn't striving to live the gospel.

Can I tell you I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY dislike the bad rap the word feminism has gotten and that this is topic we cannot discuss with and open mind. Because if we break down the word feminism to its TRUE meaning - it is simply a belief and/or understanding of what it means to be a woman. So HELLO! All members of the church should have a belief and an understanding of what it means to be a woman so essentially we are ALL feminists.

Sorry for all the caps - it is just frustrating that this topic - i.e. the role, importance, value of women cannot be discussed because as soon as the word feminism is mentioned, people run screaming from the room or shrink back in horror as if you are contagious.

Perhaps you are thinking - well Cherilee, can't we discuss all of those things without the word feminism? To which I stubbornly respond, well why does it have to be that way? I hate when things are a certain way simply because of some social stigmatism. I want to be able to say the word feminism and not suddenly be associated with everything and anything when I'm only saying, "Yes, I have a fact a firm belief about what it is and means to be a woman."

And let me tell you - that firm belief actually came about BECAUSE of my taking a feminism class. It made me think about and decide for myself - what do I really believe is the role of women in this world and in eternity. I think we need to think about this more often - and not just women but everyone - what has the Lord told us are the roles of men, women, families, etc. in this life and in the eternities. Too often I know I forget to really think about and apply to the role I have and to think about what it means for eternity.

I have heard more often than I would have expected to from women in the Church that they can't wait until the next life when that dang motherhood thing will be out of the way. Unless I'm completely off here, I'm pretty sure the Lord has taught that exaltation EQUALS eternal motherhood. Motherhood isn't something to just "get out of the way" so we can get on with our REAL purpose. It is one of the main purposes now and into eternity for us.

I think one of the difficult things for each of us is to figure out what that means to us. The Lord has given several reasons and blessings of motherhood but with applied application by us it is difficult sometimes to probably see motherhood as something other than drudgery or something to get out of the way. And yes I recognize that I'm not a mother yet, but it is something I do look forward to. Not because it will be easy, fun or always great but because it will be worth it. I have faith that because the Lord has said so, it will be so if I work and rely on him.

And lastly, seeking motherhood and seeing it as something valuable, important and fulfilling doesn't make me less of a woman. This is the world's view and it has slowly seeped into the women of the church. Can we stand up together in proclaiming the eternal nature, importance and value of womanhood and motherhood?
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Get Real

I had an interesting experience this past Sunday. I was asked to participate with 5 other women from my ward to participate in what ended up being called a focus group. Our Stake Presidency asked that this happen and the group was run by a member or our Stake Presidency.

The purpose? The Stake Presidency wanted to hear from us personally what we felt were the unique challenges and opportunities of being a Young Single Adult at this time. Alot of things were shared by the different sisters that attended but a couple things stood out to me both then and since as I've thought about it. Going into the meeting I really had no idea what it was about or exactly why we were there but once it was explained what I'm going to share with you was the main things I thought about then, shared, and have continued to think about. And it is something I think is applicable across all age ranges or varying places in life.

Are you real and honest with those you interact with especially when we are talking about our wards and specifically Relief Society (or if any guys read this Elders Quorum:P), since this was the focus of the focus group. It seems to me, too often we put on a pretty face, smile, give generic comments, and pretend that everything is rosy and life runs perfectly and smoothly.

Why do we do this? Since this is my blog you of course simply get my opinion, though I always love to hear what others have to say if you feel so inclined to comment :)

I think there are several factors that contribute. One reason I think is a misappropriation of the gospel and what it means to be striving to become perfect. Sometimes the "fake it until you make it" isn't applicable. I feel like an environment within the church has been fostered that encourages us to say, "Everything was great! It was the best thing ever!" And not that we can't say those things, but acknowledging that the mission was a struggle and there were at least as many difficult times as good times, and that being a parent is HARD though rewarding, or that being single has some advantages but it can be lonely and difficult to understand and know your purpose is super important. Projecting a perfect image simply distances us from others and allows no real connection. Sadly, this is a tool of satan because when we feel disconnected and different we often turn to false substitutes that satan whispers will fill that need or void.

Also, we may feel that others will judge us or think less of us because we aren't "perfect." I know this is something I struggle with. I know I often equate struggling with weakness and inadequacy - but we all have weaknesses and are inadequate in some way or the other. This is for a reason and purpose - so that we turn to our Savior who said He would make weak things become strong and that His grace is sufficient.

The last thing I think is a factor is our lack of connection with others and our understanding of how to share appropriately to build deeper relationships. The internet and social media have created an interesting environment where it can be easy to be fake and project a persona rather than who we are but it also sometimes fosters the feeling that we can share anything and everything with anyone and everyone. Both of these are unhealthy and damaging as we try and create true and fulfilling relationships of any kind. If I don't honestly seek and inquire about someone and realize there is a process of sharing and that it must start at a superficial level and through repeated experiences move to more personal or intimate than it will be difficult to have an environment where someone would share with me or I would feel comfortable sharing with them.

So what can I do? What can YOU do? How can we develop in our wards, RS, homes, interactions - a safe place where we are real and honest and seek to provide space where others feel they can be as well?

For me the biggest thing I can do is focus on being real, honest, and seeking to truly know others. What are your thoughts?
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