It’s interesting to me that LDS women don’t like to identify themselves as “LDS women.”
Don’t believe me?
Ever heard a Mormon assert disparagingly that they weren’t a “Utah Mormon?” Have you ever asserted such?
This is what I’m talking about. LDS women also distance themselves from the Mormon woman stereotype: Naive. Passive. Plastered with a fake Barbie smile. Uncultured. A woman whose life is solely devoted to birthing babies. And she doesn’t drink Diet Coke.
Sisters, we know this is not who we are! Why are we letting ourselves be defined this way?! We are Mormon women! Let’s own it.
Who are we?
We are philanthropists. We are members of one of the largest continually running women’s international humanitarian organizations in the world. We see the big picture, and we see the one, and we are not afraid of getting our hands dirty and working hard to help out. We get things done. We also put our money where our values are, donating a solid 10 percent of our income to support our religious community and the charitable work it sponsors. We’re committed.
We are cultured and diverse. Of course we’re diverse. There are over 6 million of us across 188 different countries representing dozens of languages and every socio-economic status out there. We are single, married, divorced, LGBTQ, straight, widowed, and ranging in age from 17 to 100+. Many of us have also spent significant time living outside our countries of birth, fully immersing ourselves in new languages and cultures.
We respect motherhood and valiantly defend the importance of honoring this stewardship. But none of us are only mothers. And most of us will spend 50+ years of our lives not actively rearing young children.
We are investors. As teachers and mentors, we invest in our most valuable resource: the rising generation of children and teenagers. As caregivers, we also respectfully tend to the needs of the aging generation. We invest in building a multi-generational community, and that is something I really admire about us.
We love our families. And not in a gag-me-syrupy-sweet-pink-hearts way. We are practicing real deal love. Which means stretching ourselves to be kind and accepting even when it’s tough and we don’t see things the same way. It means cleaning up messes that aren’t ours, listening, forgiving, and organizing homes that are safe and joyful places.
We are Saints, but we are not always saintly. We make mistakes. We sin. Our good intentions sometimes go wrong. We misunderstand and put our foot in our mouth. But we’re trying, and we’re real. And friendships forged through authenticity and imperfection are really important to us.
We actually have a very empowering story about the divine gift of our sexuality. We don’t settle for lust, so others may misjudge us as prudish, but we experience this aspect of ourselves as sacred, empowering, and beautiful.
We are creative. With the arts, with music, with dance, with words, and sometimes, with tight budgets.
We are entrepreneurs and leaders. Whether it be in starting our own business, leading an organization of hundreds, or taking the initiative to plan a family reunion, we are at the forefront of making things happen.
We support the men in our lives, but we do not see ourselves as subservient to them. When it comes to how we treat others, we have high expectations of ourselves. We hold our brothers in the gospel to the same standards. We believe God understands and supports us in ending relationships with men who are not following His counsel to treat us with Christlike love and respect.
We are not ignorant to the fact that men and women in our church have different responsibilities. Some of us have a hard time with that. We also note that throughout the history of the world women’s contributions and stories have been judged as less central, less interesting, and less meaningful than men's. We don’t see our lives through that lens. Our deeper, more nuanced, vision of ourselves is not despite Mormonism, but because of it.
We are complex. We can hold questions, ambiguity, and still-unfolding revelation with wisdom and faith. We don’t see leaning into the darkness of not-knowing-it-all as a sign of weak, blind obedience. We see that as a sign of maturity and strength.
We are happy. Not perfect, and not always chipper, but we are striving to be happy. We’re not being fake, and we’re not in denial. We’re actively aligning our lives with one of our core beliefs: that part of the purpose of life is to cultivate and share joy. (And yes, we know that LDS women in Utah have a high rate of anti-depressant use. Did you also know that highly educated people, in general, have a higher correlation to anti-depressant use than the average population? Yup.)
We are educated. Many of us have graduated from academic institutions, colleges, and universities from around the world. We have a long tradition of embracing truths and pursuing learning in all forms.
And we like Diet Coke. Well, at least I do. 😉