I wrote this post on June 24th, but never published it. Now that others seem to be facing extreme church discipline and restrictions like Kate Kelly, it seems worth resuscitating this piece from the drafts folder…
All history attests that man has subjected woman to his will, used her as a means to promote his selfish gratification, to minister to his sensual pleasures, to be instrumental in promoting his comfort; but never has he desired to elevate her to that rank she was created to fill. He has done all he could to debase and enslave her mind; and now he looks triumphantly on the ruin he has wrought, and say, the being he has thus deeply injured is his inferior. – Sarah Grimke
When I was in college and could set my own rhythms, I fell naturally into a pattern of staying up until 2 or 3 am to read/study, arising at about 8am, and taking a long after-lunch nap to compensate for the missing nighttime hours of sleep. I followed a somewhat similar pattern during summers when I was a kid, staying up late into the night reading books instead of sleeping. I realized yesterday that I’ve quite naturally fallen into that pattern again, now that for the first time in two decades that caregiving and work responsibilities do not dictate my waking/sleeping hours.
Last night, for example, I stayed up late reading a novel (this one, about The Quaker-abolitionist Grimke sisters) and following the Facebook commentaries about Mormon feminist Kate Kelly’s excommunication. It was well after 2am when I turned out the light. When I did finally snuggle into the covers for sleep, I thought a lot about who I was when I was I college and even way back to my younger years when book-reading about people and places that were far away was such a voracious pleasure, one that compelled me to stay awake to finish a story rather than put the book down for another day. Many of my feelings from those years echoed the sentiments of Sarah Grimke, who I was reading about last night. When I was young I had such strong feelings about the injustices of the world and how I might make a difference by writing and speaking about them. I felt called to that, deep in my soul, so much so that many times I promised my Heavenly Father that I would work hard and pursue every option at my disposal to do good and to promote equality and charity.
Thus, as I was falling asleep it was my younger, idealistic, self that I was soothing as I re-visited the moments after John Remy’s church court five years ago, when I had realized that his excommunication for apostasy also cut me off from the eternities (lone women have no place in the highest levels of heaven, according to LDS doctrine). With one blow to him, I was also removed from God, as were our children, and this action was done without even the slightest apology (or even any acknowledgement of my sorrow, for that matter) from the priesthood leaders.
And it was then that I knew for sure that I was not wanted, or valued, in the LDS church, a feeling that had been brewing for many years. That was the hardest blow of all–all of my devotion and sacrifices for that institution and for my marriage and for my family were moot because I was female and because the loss of the tie to the priesthood (i.e. the patriarchal order) left me estranged from heaven. I scheduled a meeting with my stake president to clarify this issue and he made it quite clear that I had become single (a lone woman in the garden, so to speak) in the eyes of the church when John was ex’d. Knowing that cemented my resolve to find other places besides the Mormon church to devote my energies.
Now, despite my being light years away from caring about Mormon doctrine, the ache of being unwanted and left alone by my church still rears its head occasionally as it did last night. Of course I knew that what happened to Kate was not about me, nor have I been at all involved in the actions or Ordain Women other than submitting a profile for the site when it first launched. But I’d been following the events of OW fairly closely, knowing that if the women organizing the effort had influence and were embraced for their efforts, that the church could right so many wrongs and create a welcoming space for my feminist sisters who still care so much about maintaining their activity in the organization.
Instead, that door of opportunity closed (again), and Kate’s leaders acted without understanding or compassion (and I agree with Kate’s statement that their saying that their discipline was out of love for her, is abusive and cruel). While I will continue to watch the happenings of OW, it will continue to be from a distance, as I move onwards with the rhythm that feels more natural to me now.
Thus far woman has struggled through life with bandaged eyes, accepting the dogma of her weakness and inability to take care of herself not only physically but intellectually. She has held out a trembling hand and received gratefully the proffered aid. She has foregone her right to study, to know the laws and purposes of government to which she is subject. But there is now awakened in her a consciousness that she is defrauded of her legitimate Rights and that she never can fulfill her mission until she is placed in that position to which she feels herself called by the divinity within. Hitherto she has surrendered her person and her individuality to man, but she can no longer do this and not feel that she is outraging her nature and her God.