Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feminist Mormon Housewives?

Thanks/(No thanks?) to John, or his daughter, or someone, I came across a very "traditionally oxymoronic" blog Feminist Mormon Housewives.

What is actually intriguing to me is the fact that, on their front page, they have posts with hundreds of comments. Posts only a few days old may rival our total comment production for the year!

Now, given that, according to statistics, usually only ~1% of your readers actually comment, this means they must have ~tens of thousands of readers in just a few days.

This got me thinking: given such a small fraction of LDS are prone to reading blogs, and given this blog alone seems to beckon tens of thousands of readers every few days, how large is feminism in the church? Scrolling through the posts it seems they are very active members, as are their readers, so the question extends to: how active is feminism among active members?

I'll go further, I found several LDS science blogs, none receiving nearly as many comments, even if you combined them all. Could you take this to mean there is more interest in feminism among the LDS than science?

Well, some of my assumptions may be wrong. Maybe they beat the odds and 50% of their readers comment. Maybe there are no other feminists in the church other than these women who post and comment. I doubt that, so again, I wonder.

Well, they did do an April Fools Day post about how church leadership was allowing them to set up their own feminist first ward, so at least they have a sense of humor.


  1. Hey,
    Very interesting post. Personally I think that there are a number of factors here. First of all, feminism can be a very polarizing issue. Some of the most heated discussions I ever heard at BYU came when someone dared to utter the horrible word "feminism." (Honestly, when we get right down to what flavor of feminism we're talking about, we really ought to have a lot more in common than not, but that's a digression.) Science (with the isolated exception of evolution and a few things like that) rarely stirs that much of a fervor. I admit that most of the time when I read science blogs or articles, my first reaction is "huh, that's interesting," and I move on to the next article. Sometimes a lack of comments doesn't mean a lack of interest, but that there's just nothing more to say.

    On the other side of that coin, however, I would not be surprised if there is more interest in feminism than in science, not only among LDS, but in the population in general. Most people seem to approach science like their DVD player -- It's cool, they're glad to have it, but they really don't spend a lot of time thinking about it as long as it works.

    Anyways, that's my two cents for the day. Again, great post as always.

  2. One possible difference is that discussing science usually means being able to understand some fraction of the math/data being used. That is intimdating to most people. On the other hand social issues like feminism tend to be something that everyone feels they can discuss because they are either female or closely associated with females - and no math or data is required.

  3. Bill,
    On the issue of feminism, I think that Mormons have a problem with feminism the same way we have a problem with Christianity. If you strip feminism down to its core, it is nothing more than being pro-female. In that sense I am a feminist to the core. But the problem with feminism is that there is an awful lot of baggage that has been associated with that term. The same is true of Christianity, hence we end up arguing in circles about both topics with people who have grown so used to the associations that they equate them with the core issue.

  4. Thanks Bill. You know, Mormons have a tradition of feminism in a sense, especially in the early years of the church. We let women vote earlier than most. In an age when it was still common to read the biblical verse saying women shouldn't speak in church we were organizing a female society with their own governing body and constitution. (Relief Society). And, I shouldn't mention this, but if you study up on the quorum of the anointed you will find women, beside men, had a place in a priesthood quorum which evolved into what women do today in temples. (Men don't administer everything. I better stop here.)

    On the other hand, most people don't associate polygamy with feminism and in modern times the church probably isn't viewed as feminist as it would have been earlier, again, in a day where women often couldn't speak in church.

    However, I think we do a good job.

  5. Nick and Joe, I agree completely. I once read a very interesting opinion on the issue of feminism in the church. (I hope you could tell that my indignation at feminism in my previous post was feigned.) If we define feminism as the idea the women should be held in equal regard and be treated equally with men, then I'm sure that the church and all of us would be considered extremely feminist (just like Joe mentioned in his historical reference). However, if we define feminism by the phrase by Gloria Steinem, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," then I would classify myself as very non-feminist. I think it's exactly what Nick said, our problem isn't with the core ideas, our problem is with all the baggage that gets associated with it.


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