Eliza and Hannah have recommended this book to me - so I got it on my Kindle and read it this week. I wold love to discuss it with my daughters - I imagine we'd have an invigorating discussion.
Years ago, I subscribed to Exponent II, a modern take on the old Exponent that was published for years for mostly Utah Mormon women. At the time, I think I felt a little isolated emotionally from many of the women around me. It seemed that I didn't have others around me who read the same books I did or had the same concerns I did. Exponent II became that circle of friends. In addition to writing about issues that concerned me, I found myself exploring issues I'd never even thought about.
Reading the magazine opened up avenues to books, articles, poetry, and true-life stories that I found compelling. One month the discussion focused on the issue of women holding their babies while they were being blessed. Women pointed out that, at the time, non-member and non-Melchizedek priesthood holders were allowed in the circle when a baby was blessed, but an active, recommend-holding woman could not be there and hold her baby.
I'm not sure why, but that issue truly resonated with me. I recall asking Harry what he thought our then Stake President would say if I asked him if I could hold Hannah while she was being blessed. (My years of reading Exponent II coincided with my "second family" - that is, the years when I had Eliza, Hannah, and Noah - while I also had "big kids" in high school and middle school.)
Harry's response was a thoughtful one. He said he thought President Merkely would want to know my motive. Did I truly feel left out of the event? Did I want to "make a statement?" Did I want to "shock" or "impress" others with my daring? Was I thoughtful and prayerful about the idea?
Upon reflection, I realized that I was mostly intrigued by the novelty of the event. I had sat in the congregation and listened to the blessings Harry gave each of our children - and had found it a spiritual experience. I guessed I didn't need to "make a point." But I also understood at some level that for some women, it would be a make or break kind of deal.
In this book by Neylan McBaine, the author explores the role of women in the LDS church. Her research is thoughtful and thorough. Many of her suggestions are excellent - and not earth-shattering. She does not advocate any kind of rebellion or "stirring of the pot," but instead she has gathered, through interviews and others tools of research, a lot of data that is full of possibilities and ideas for improving the way women are represented in the church.
Her major thesis is that as a majority in the gospel kingdom, women often do not have any "presence" or influence. She sees this not as a condemnation of men, but as a natural result of cultural and social influences. And she sees the need for women to look for ways to increase their visibility in the gospel setting.
She has interspersed her commentary with stories and quotes of members of the church - men and women - that lend credence to her thesis. And many of her proposals and suggestions have apparent merit - and as she often notes, there is nothing in the official handbook preventing them from being done.
One practice she reported on especially touched my heart. She said that in a ward she attended, when the bishop was released, the stake president had the bishop's family stand also for the vote of thanks.
I thought that was a nice touch.
Let me know what you think. I truly wish I could have a big group discussion with all of you!