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VOL. 32 I NO. 1 I SUMMER 2012 



Mormon Women, 
by Ashley Mae 

This image is 
available for 
purchase in 
Ashley's Etsy 
shop at 




The purpose of Exponent 1 1 is to provide a forum for Mormon women to 
share their life experiences in an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. 
This exchange allows us to better understand each other and shape 
the direction of our lives. Our common bond is our connection to The 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and our commitment to 
women. We publish this paper as a living history in celebration of the 
strength and diversity of women. 






" 'People should deserve how they ore treated', I thought, 
concluding that I nnust hove done something terribly wrong not 
to be loved." 


"I could not Imagine this life In o glont religious family always 
being the odd couple out." 


OKAZAKI ^Yarix9UjyCluthx9r/y 

A small tribute to Chleko's legacy with stories from those whose 
lives have been Impacted by her profound words of wisdom and 
Inspiring spirit. 



"Who would have guessed that a little Japanese girl from the Big 
Island could touch, Inspire, and love so many of us?" 




"My partner and I serve where we're allowed... It Isn't nearly 
enough, though. My heart longs to serve." 














SjuM Ptdtermrv fmittrwrnih 




"Pen and Scissors" 

"PattI Perfect" 

"My Life as a Centerfold" 
UtUoraA- durmer Rruy 


"While extremely frugal in most ways ("I prefer the term 'cheap,'", 
my dad says), be has an obsession with buying fruit." 

SUMMER 2012 


Editorial Staff 





Rachel Albertsen, Emily Benton, Sue Booth-Forbes, Susan 
Christiansen, Thomas Clyde, Krisanne Hastings, Margaret 
Olsen Hemming, Elisabeth Lund Oppelt, Emily Mosdell, 
Dayna Patterson, Elizabeth Pinborough, Natalie Prado, 
Chelsea Shields Strayer, Suzette Smith, and Jessica Steed 



Kirsten Campbell 

Suzette Smith 








Emily Clyde Curtis, Emily Gray, Margaret Olsen Hemming, 
Aimee Evans Hickman, Denise Kelly, Linda Hoffman Kimball, 
Caroline Kline, Jana Remy, Heather Sundahl, Barbara Taylor 


Linda Andrews, Cheryl DiVito, Nancy Dredge, Judy Dushku, 
Karen Haglund, Deborah Farmer Kris, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich 

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Stefanie Carson Nickolaisen, Emily Fox 
King, Scott Hefferman, Ashley Mae Hoiland, Pat Langmade, 
Jessica Steed, Morgan Trinker, and Ellen Williams for the use 
of their artwork in this issue. 

Exponent II (ISSN 1094-7760) is published quarterly by 
Exponent II Incorporated, a non-profit corporation with no 
official connection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- 
day Saints. Articles published represent the opinions of 
authors only and not necessarily those of the editor or staff. 
Letters to Exponent II or its editors and Sisters Speak articles 
are assumed intended for publication in whole or in part and 
may therefore be used for such purposes. Copyright © 2012 
by Exponent II, Inc. All rights reserved. 


We welcome personal essays, articles, poetry, fiction, and 
book reviews for consideration. Please email submissions 
to or mail them to Exponent II, 
2035 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217. Please include 
your name and contact information. 

Submissions received by mail will not be returned. 

We are always looking for artwork and photography 
to accompany our writing. Please send jpegs or gifs 
of art submissions to our email. If you are interested 
in illustrating articles, please contact us for specific 




3^ our io^^ rauLeri^' 

It's a happy time of growth for Exponent II right now, and to celebrate that, 
we've put together this summer issue, full of uplifting and lighthearted pieces. 
We have three personal essays dealing with marriage, including Lorraine Jackson's 
careful crafting of a civil Mormon wedding ceremony, Mary Clyde's ideas on relationships post- 
divorce, and Kelly Montgomery, an excommunicated lesbian, who decided with her partner to be 
active members of the Church. While it's been almost a year since she passed away, we wanted 
to take the time to celebrate and give Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, an influential Mormon pioneer, a 
proper farewell with Carol Lee Hawkin's funeral address and some of our readers' stories about 
how Chieko influenced them. We celebrate our foremothers in Brenda Thomas' sacrament talk 
about Relief Society and look for a better future for our daughters in this issue's Sisters Speak 
and Dana Haight Cattani's "To PEC or Not to PEC." We had fun putting together "Two Mormon 
Feminists Walked into a Bar," a humor feature, and we feel like we're on the cutting edge of pop 
culture with some Mormon-themed "Hey Girl" Ryan Gosling images, created by members of the 
rising generation of Mormon women: Ellen Lewis, Sagan Gotberg, and Whitney Paige, who all 
recently graduated from high school. 

This issue begins Aimee's and my third year as co-editors of Exponent II. During the first 
year, we focused on laying a foundation, finding dedicated and talented editors and 
staff members, and adapting to the rigorous pace of hitting deadlines for a quarterly 
production schedule. This year has been more fun as we continue to grow at the 
organizational level, beyond the publication. We have a new president and treasurer 
who are getting our financial situation in order. We've also had a dedicated fundraising 
team plan and execute a successful fundraising drive. Finally, we've had a dedicated editor, 
Elizabeth Pinborough, who published Exponent N's first book in over 30 years, which we 
completely sold out of within days of the first printing. 

The second edition of Habits of Being: Mornnon Wonnen's Material Culture will be available 
on our website as a hard copy and as an e-book by the time you receive this issue. And, 
we're looking forward to reading the submissions for our upcoming political issue during 
this Mormon Moment in the United States' history. 

Right now. Mormon feminism is producing plenty of powerful work through a variety 
of mediums. It's exciting to be on this journey, and we celebrate what an exciting 
time it is to be a Mormon feminist. Come continue the celebration with us this 
fall at our annual Exponent retreat with keynote speaker and Exponent founding 
editor, Claudia Bushman, and a line-up of workshops that has me positively 

tnu£^ Ci^d& Cw^tiA 


# or a time after my divorce, airports unnerved me. I was 
\J miserable in their long, anonymous corridors packed 
with ordinary couples. For me, each couple I passed posed an 
unsolvable, nagging riddle: How do couples remain couples? 
What fate or magic or knowledge or assets— what, what did the 
simple married folk do? Regardless of whether they seemed 
particularly happy or well suited, unmistakably, they were 
together, sitting knee-to-knee eating Wendy's hamburgers or 
standing side-by-side trying to decipher the departure schedule 
monitors. Their pairings seemed as unlikely and logic-defying 
as continental drift or as the magician sawing his assistant in 
half without dismembering her. But in the case of the couples, it 
was their staying together that baffled me. I recall a New Yorker 
cartoon of a magician's assistant's grave with two mounds, 
marked by separate headstones: top and the rest. That seemed 
an apt metaphor for me. Divorce was more than losing a 
husband; it was losing who I was. 

Most confusing, even now, I'm not entirely certain how I 
became that stupidly stigmatized label: a divorcee. Many years 
ago, when my then-husband announced— with the sober calm 
of an auto mechanic diagnosing worn brake pads— that he 
wasn't sure he loved me, my first reaction was to try to explain 
to him that of course he loved me. I believe I said, "It's me. It's 
Mary." As if his loss of affection was a case of mistaken identity. 
Temple covenants, five children, and 26 years of marriage. 
Wasn't that love? 

But the passing days and weeks revealed the truth of his 
confession. He didn't love me. In my fretful examination of 
our marriage, I experienced bouts of utter conviction of my 
innocence, alternating with suffocating certainties of my 
guilt in the failure of the marriage. Evidence of my minor but 
systematic wrongdoings presented itself like pesky computer 
graphics, relentlessly surfacing to disrupt my fragile peace. 
Vigilantly, I whacked the thoughts back, but increasingly they 
took a terrific toll. "People should deserve how they are treated, 
" I thought, concluding that I must have done something terribly 
wrong not to be loved. I began to lose and gain weight like a 
divorced character in a short story I'd written and published 
years before. I pondered the story's eerie prescience. Had I 
understood something about divorce even then? It crossed my 
mind to worry that I'd been insensitive to my fictional divorcee's 
suffering. I wanted to apologize to her. But then, I longed to ask 

'People should deserve how they are treated/ 
I thought, concluding that I nnust have done 
something terribly wrong not to be loved/' 

By Mary Clyde ■ Phoenix, Arizona 

the entire world for forgiveness 
Surely, I had failed everyone. 

As a subject, divorce 
seemed as routine 
and baffling as, say, 
radio frequencies, 
ice formation, and 
marriage itself. 
Indeed, what did love 
have to do with it- 
marriage or divorce? 
I seemed to love and 
be loved by small children, big dogs, and 
gay men, but the man who'd promised to love me eternally did 
not. And what would the dissolution of our marriage do to my 
children? I loved them fiercely, but I couldn't love them enough 
to make their father care for me, and my love for him began to 
appear shabby and shop-worn, insufficient for the monumental 
task of keeping a marriage together. 

I approached a beloved uncle for advice. My uncle radiates 
Jesus' love in his blue eyes. He kindly asked me thoughtful 
questions and spoke with gentle intensity, explaining what he'd 
learned from years of counseling people about marriage. Simply 
stated, he said that if both partners decide to work on the 
marriage, it will succeed. If neither will work on the marriage, it 
is doomed. If either wife or husband tries to save the marriage, 
it will succeed about half of the time. This sounded sensibly 
mathematical. I could work. I would try. 

Then my uncle said something that I almost lost sight of in the 
difficult months that followed. He said, "Mary, if you try to save 
your marriage, you will be blessed." 

I tried. My attempts may have been pathetic; obviously, they 
weren't successful, but they were sincere and continued for 
several months. Nevertheless, a few days after my husband, 
who was the second counselor in the bishopric, told me firmly 
that the marriage couldn't be salvaged, I walked into Sacrament 
Meeting shamefaced and aware that I was an unwilling 
participant in a small-scale scandal. I thought. So this is how that 
feels. I admired the courage of others who'd squinted in the glare 
of unwanted scrutiny. I tried to smile, and my tremulous smile 



was returned by the ward members with genuine affection. No 
one— except me— looked away. Friends whispered that they 
loved me. I was hugged and passed from person to person 
like a bucket in a fire brigade. I experienced the equivalent of a 
standing ovation for what I saw as the ultimate failure of my life. 

Understand this. If, as a culture, Latter-day Saints seem fixated 
on marriage, that doesn't have to stop us from rushing to 
bandage the wounded when the institution explodes in divorce. 
A good marriage may reveal the largess of an individual's love, 
but divorce can uncover a broad swath of communal caring. 
It wasn't just my dear friends; an army of angels ministered 
to my broken heart. In the months that it took to finalize the 
divorce, as I grew more disheartened, the ward was my Balm of 
Gilead. At a time when I'd whisper to my reflection, "I hate you," 
ward members supported me in a stirring manifestation of the 
baptismal covenant: They mourned with me; they comforted 
me. They reached out to my children. They 
carried us along: ball games. Eagle Scout 
Projects, and wedding receptions. 

Alas, I never solved the airport couple riddle. 
I still only have a cursory understanding of 
how couples remain couples. I theorize that 
every woman everywhere commits offenses 
that a man could single out as a reason for 
divorce. Aren't we all at times petty? Self- 
righteous? Impatient? But every woman also 
has attributes that make her loveable. Every 
woman's worth is above rubies, though that 
may only be evident to a particular man; with 
luck, she marries him. Such a man makes 
a decision about her value, and she about 
his, which can cement the relationship for 
eternities. What I came to understand about 
the airport couples was simple, prosaic, but s 
had decided to stay together. I must have witnes 
spectrum of marital bliss and misery in airports, 
the airport couples' situations— and whether or i 
good situations— they were couples. After they : 

One evening after the divorce was finally over, I pushed my 
first grandson in a stroller in a pink- and orange-glazed Phoenix 
sunset. Fall is the desert's real "spring." Released from the 
stifling heat, desert dwellers tentatively emerge from the air 
conditioning and fling arms wide to the glory of moderate 
temperatures. That evening as we walked, fan palm fronds 
rustled, rabbits darted from beneath oleanders, and I realized. 
This is my life: the sweet baby, the beautiful weather, and a 
desert sunset. The idea amazed me. I hadn't expected to feel 

such joy and peace. It was a different life than before, but it was 
mine. I hadn't had a job since I worked for Married Students' 
Housing in college, but a former mentor phoned to offer me a 
teaching position. I'd moved to a smaller house with a red tile 
roof, a looming eucalyptus tree, and a spotted, mongrel dog. 
I recognized that I was richly blessed, as my dear uncle had 

I feel the truth of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's comments: 
"Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building 
blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the 
way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness." 
My divorce has allowed me fresh opportunities and clearer 
understandings. I know the sacred value of compassion and 
the healing powers of love— God's, others', and my own. I am 

Now my chief worry at airports is catching the plane. Airport 
couples pass without my scrutiny as I search for a purse-sized 
water bottle to purchase or puzzle over the departure screens. 
I'm pleased when a harried mother lets me help her with her 
over-tired toddler, and I'm anxious about the claustrophobia of 
dogs in travel carriers. However, now at the airport, I notice the 
legions of single people, many more than I'd have thought. May 
God bless them, I think. All of them and the couples, too. r^I^. 

For H. Burke Peterson 

If y as a culturey Latter-day 

Saints seem fixated on 
marriagey that doesnt have 
to stop usfi'om rushing 
to bandage the wounded 
when the institution 
explodes in divorce. A good 
marriage may reveal the 
largess of an individuaVs 

lovey but divorce can 
uncover a broad swath of 
communal caring. 

artling: They 
.ed the entire 
but whatever 
lot they were 
aid / do, they 

Starting over has had some shocks of delight. 
A time or two, I've written my divorced name 
with the girlish flourishes I'd used to write my 
new married name when my face was unlined 
and my hair was a solid brown. I relish the 
instruction of etiquette books; I am A/Irs., but 
only to myself. I have been reborn, but into 
a new life. After time, custody is moot. My 
children love me. I'm entertained by their 
efforts to find dates for me, and touched, too. 
The question they always pose is whether 
the potential date (celebrities, public figures, 
and general authorities) is good enough for 
me. At home, I play Dionne Warwick loudly. 
Sometimes I let Sonny and Cher belt out "I 
Got You Babe." If my music choices don't 
represent good taste, I am satisfied that 
it is my taste. The dog sleeps on my bed, 
occasionally whimpering from a bad dream that I wake him 
from by patting his soft furry side. I tell him that it will be all 
right; we both go back to sleep. And sometimes I entertain 
myself by tearing recklessly into product packaging. There is no 
one to be irritated by my inability to tidily open a Cheerios box. 

SUMMER 2012 



'7 could not imagine this life in a giant religious family, always being the odd couple out/ 
By Lorraine Jackson ■ Lehi, Utah 

"So, what temple are you getting married in?" The question 
came with glee, during a big family function. Not an accusation, 
and certainly not an assumption that the answer would be 
anything other than "The Bountiful/Salt Lake/Timpanogos 

Instead, the merriment fell into an awkward silence as my fears 
were realized: My fiance's aunt didn't know that we weren't 
active Mormons. I looked to Dan, who mercifully glossed over 
the original question to move into more neutral wedding topics. 
The room shifted slightly, and my paranoia 
told me that my soon-to-be family was 
realigning their perspective on our marriage. 
I was consumed with fears about what 
misguided assumptions were being made 
about Dan, me, and our relationship. 

We had met and nearly instantly fallen in 
love while I was on a vacation to Utah in the 
year prior. A wonderful Salt Lake job offer 
and a packed vehicle later, I was moving 
back to the "everlasting hills" of Zion where 
I had grown up and had ceremoniously 
decided to permanently leave behind after 
college. Fleeing to the East Coast had been 
an awakening for me about the status of my 
faith: I had spent many years in Utah trying 
to make Mormonism work for me, but the 
long circuitous conversations about the 
technicalities of green tea and the inequalities 
of the priesthood with the bishopric were 
slowly pushing me away from any affection 
for the Church. Away from the prying eyes of 
Mormon expectations, I felt like I was finally able to redefine 
my relationship with God. What remained was a desire to live 
an altruistic life, and a lingering fondness for my Mormon and 
Jewish ancestry, which I continued to explore and study even 
as my connection to the Church wavered. I found I could safely 
pursue the stories of my ancestors who had crossed the plains 

^^My civil Mormon 
wedding was probably the 
best thing to happen to 
my spirituality in years. 
It didntjust allay my 
fears about Dansfamilyy 
it required me to open my 
heart again and slay my 
own prejudices. Crafting 
a celebration together as 
a family was the ultimate 
reconciliation— not just 
of my future life within 
Mormon culture^ but of 
the Mormon woman that I 
would always be. " 

to Utah or left Moldova in a Jewish diaspora without feeling 
constantly troubled by the dogma of the contemporary Church. 
My ancestors became my spiritual safe zone. 

It was a shock to my system, then, to find myself not only back 
in Utah, but also about to join myself to a man who still loosely 
identified himself as Mormon, along with his giant, wonderful, 
and very Mormon family. The first time that Dan introduced me 
to his extended family was at a high school basketball game, 
where his cousins were playing in the state playoffs. There, I 
met what seemed like billions more cousins, 
four sets of aunts and uncles, and one set of 
grandparents. Despite their fellowship, their 
kindness, the twinkle in their eyes to see 
Dan so happy with a woman, all I saw was 

For all my hopes to be seen for who I was, I 
could not seem to offer the same in return. 
I had intentionally left Utah behind so 
that I could pursue my spirituality without 
judgment. When I saw this enormous, loving 
family, I only saw a lifetime of disappointing 
them, of questioning their motives, and 
wondering when they would learn that both 
Dan and I were making conscious choices to 
live our life on the Mormon fringes. 

I cried to Dan on the drive home from the 
basketball game, confessing that I could 
not imagine this life in a giant religious 
family, always being the odd couple out, and 
concerned that our combined distance from 
the Church could jeopardize Dan's closeness to his family, 
which would have broken both our hearts. He assured me that 
his family would never let that happen. His unwavering belief in 
his family and in us was the first step towards me making peace 
with my faith and theirs. 



Dan didn't give up on me, and proposed atop the gorgeous 
red cliffs of Kanab, Utah, overlooking the cattle ranch that his 
Mormon ancestors had established when Brother Brigham 
sent them there to settle the wilderness some 150 years ago. 
We sat side-by-side in the early morning light as he pulled 
out a ring that, unbeknownst to me, had been given to him by 
my grandmother and belonged to my Great Aunt Ruth, the 
daughter of a Mormon pioneer herself. At that moment our 
ancestral worlds were entwined, and this incredibly romantic 
gesture reminded me that I had something pure and sacred to 
cling to in my otherwise wavering testimony. Our ancestors 
were ours, and they would be proud of our match. How could 
they not be? We spent the remainder of our engagement day 
visiting their cabins and cleaning off their headstones, which 
we both thought was the greatest thing in the world. 

So, I set to planning our big, fat Mormon civil wedding. We 
knew right away that we wanted to give ourselves, our friends, 
and our family a personal and meaningful experience. And 
despite our shared confusion about our place in the Church, we 
had always shared an extraordinary soft spot for our ancestors. 
It was the sentiment of our engagement that inspired us to 
have a wedding not only to honor our love, but to honor both 
our families and, specifically, our Mormon pioneer heritage. 
Because Dan and I had direct relatives who entered the Salt 
Lake Valley through Emigration Canyon, it seemed all too 
perfect to marry in the little white church at This Is The Place 
Heritage Park. 

To my relief, the awkward question of the temple was asked 
just once, and the only other religious tension we experienced 
in the process was choosing someone to marry us. Dan had 
to politely turn down the presented idea of a bishop, and 
in a wonderful turn of fate, I met a man at This is The Place 
who goes affectionately by "Diamond Jim," a Mormon with 
an Internet-ordained ministry license who often officiates 
weddings for couples at the park. He says he has performed 
ceremonies as a Sheriff, in pioneer coat tails and top hat, and 
even as a ranking member in the Star Wars Rebel Alliance. We 
opted for the top hat. While it seemed slightly absurd initially, 
he showed amazing reverence for our history and our story, and 
the top hat was a hit. 

When we did finally share the location of our ceremony and 
our minister with the family, I was happily surprised by the 
excitement and warmth that Dan's family showed for our ideas. 
My paranoia about being spiritually saved was quickly replaced 
with gratitude as our families came forward in innumerable 
ways to make the wedding a treasured, meaningful day full of 
heartfelt elements. As Dan, our sisters, mothers, and I spent 
the summer making programs that doubled as fans, hand- 
stamping bags filled with desert wildflower seeds, and staining 

doilies with coffee grounds, I often had a feeling of peace, 
belonging, and occasionally, a presence in my heart which I can 
only describe as timeless femininity. It was as if I could feel the 
calluses of weathered women, generations gone, in the tips of 
my fingers as we worked. I was tied to a centuries-repeated act 
of women sitting together, creating, and sharing. 

In one of the great disasters-turned-miracles, my eldest sister 
fashioned a veil with hand-knit flowers and my Great Aunt 
Ruth's brooch just days before the wedding when my original 
veil plans fell through. One of Dan's aunts, a scrapbooking 
queen, presented us with an entirely handmade box to save 
keepsakes in when the wedding was over. It now holds my veil, 
our ring boxes, lace from my dress, and a copy of our vows. 

During this bonding and crafting time, I asked my sisters and 
soon-to-be sisters if they would sing an a cappella version of 
"For the Beauty of the Earth" at the wedding. It was sung at my 
and my sister's baptism, and my grandmother has made it quite 
clear it will be sung at her funeral. Hearing all four of my sisters 
sing it together in perfect harmony during our ceremony was 
one of the most beautiful moments of my life. 

My civil Mormon wedding was probably the best thing to 
happen to my spirituality in years. It didn't just allay my fears 
about Dan's family, it required me to open my heart again and 
slay my own prejudices. Crafting a celebration together as a 
family was the ultimate reconciliation— not just of my future 
life within Mormon culture, but of the Mormon woman that I 
would always be. 

When Dan proposed, I had a clear, profound sense of all that 

had been done by the people before us whose Mormon, Jewish, 

Catholic, and Protestant lives collectively guided us to this 

moment and all the moments after. The wedding didn't seal 

things up with a pretty bow, but it gave us a way to start our life 

authentically, and unafraid, joined together on the edge of Zion. 


SUMMER 2012 




An EXPONENT II reader writes, '1 am a 30-something new mom. Over the years, I have made peace with my identity as a Mormon. I like 
getting involved, helping the sisters in my ward, teaching quietly feminist gospel doctrine lessons. Despite the rough road it's been, I like being 
a bridge-builder I'm stubborn and don't want cultural elements to drive me away from my birthright. 

But my daughter is a really incredible kid. She's got this spunky energy. And if I dare stop to think about the subtle messages she'll get about her 
'role' as a woman from nursery onward . . . gulp! And then there are the OVERT messages. 

From moms of daughters: I'd love to hear how/if having a daughter changed your relationship with the Church. From anyone else, I'd love 
your thoughts about raising the next generation of girls in the Church. How can we help protect them from those problematic messages about 
womanhood, while at the same time teaching them to appreciate the best ofMormonism?" 


I just can't say this enough: The gender roles your children see at home totally 
trump what they hear at Church. Just this week I was reviewing that troubling 
Young Women lesson about respecting patriarchal authority. I'm pretty certain 
I was taught this, probably multiple times, and yet I grew up fully believing 
husband and wife make decisions together, listen to each other, come to 
unanimous conclusions, and move forward. Why? Because, as far as I could tell, 
that's how my parents worked. This is why as a college sophomore I didn't get 
why my literary theory teachers trod so carefully around feminism. Why would 
they think feminism would work against the Church when so much of what I 
had learned there taught me I was powerful, valued, strong, capable of receiving 
revelation and just as valuable as men? Modesty was about respecting my body, 
education was important, marriage was my goal, but I knew if it didn't work 
out I still was of worth. Seriously, this is all because my parents are wonderful, 
considerate, egalitarian people. 

The examples of womanhood, manhood, and teamwork that your daughters see 
at home will be their default, their template for the future. And for everything 
else, conversations in the car with my mom were really what helped me figure 
out life. Be there, talk things through, and it will work out. 


"I was fairly peaceful about my Mormon identity before having my daughter, 
but now I feel absolutely no guilt in rejecting problematic theology, policies, 
and cultural practices. Gone are the days of mental gymnastics and trying to 
make it all work; I don't even try anymore. I focus on all of the best parts of our 

religion and ignore the rest. And I will not be shy in telling my daughter and my 
boys why I reject the rest when the time comes that this is actually an issue. 

The Sunday she came home with a handout that said "I have a body like Heavenly 
Father" with a picture of a little boy underneath, I felt my heart break in two. I 
cried for hours. I couldn't believe that somebody had given that handout to my 
beautiful little girl without thinking how it made her body completely invisible. 
This is what I struggle with the most right now, the almost complete invisibility 
of women in our religion. I can deal with the cultural sexism because she will 
have to put up with that in our broader society. But to have women almost 
completely invisible— to not be able to recognize herself in scripture, hymn, 
liturgy and, most importantly, God— that is so painful. I find myself fighting 
back rage, sadness and tears at least once a week. I want to shake every leader, 
speaker, and teacher and say, "Look at my girl. She deserves so much more than 
what you are offering her." I cannot allow my daughter to believe that she is 
"less than" (missing word?) because she can't see herself." 


Recently my husband said, "We need to put our daughter in Girl Scouts." It 
bothers both of us that boys in our ward are sent on repeated camping trips and 
other expensive activities. Such activities for girls, on the other hand, are few 
and far between because the Church sponsors Boy Scouts but not Girl Scouts. 
There is little we can do to change these inequities Church-wide (although I am 
willing to try), but we can compensate in our own family. The Church is going 
to provide our sons with Boy Scout troops but will not do so for our daughter? 
Then we'll do it. This strategy won't work for everything— there is nothing I can 



Princess Paintings by Emily Fox King, Ogden, Utah 

do to get my daughter a seat at the Sacrament table— but at least with some of 
these inequities, I can fill in the blanks. 


I have five daughters and have served as a Young Women president both at 
the stake and ward level. I love the gospel and think the Church has provided 
marvelous resources to assist in teaching pure doctrine and raising strong, 
intelligent, well-rounded children. However, I have been in meetings with my 
daughters where I have literally thought, "Everyone here sounds the same, 
looks the same, cries at the same moment, and wants exactly the same things 
from life." I have wondered whether my daughters are destined to emerge from 
the process of growing up looking like a rubber stamp of everything they have 
seen around them. I wonder if they will have the choice to become the women 
God wants them to be and is quietly leading them towards, or if they will feel 
like they have to fit into the mold of what our culture is screaming they ought 
to be. 


I have two little girls, and this has really helped awaken my inner feminist! I am 
more aware than ever about what is being taught at Church, and I am careful 
to take the time to talk about things with my eldest about the messages she 
receives from primary. For example, she asked how the world was created, 
so we sat down with some pictures and the Bible. I told her the story of the 
creation— except I also taught her that her Heavenly Mother was there helping 
to create our world (because I just can't believe She wasn't involved!). I want 
her to know that it's okay to think about and have a relationship with her 
Heavenly Mother. She's just not going to get that at Church. 

To me, part of the key is that we talk about it. I always ask them what they 
thought about certain meetings or talks. We try to learn together how to 
discern culture from doctrine and emotion from spirit. I try to encourage them 
to develop their own personalities, to recognize their individual strengths, to 
help each other through areas of weakness, and to understand that we are 
valued because we are different, not based on how well we can fit into this 
strange idea of what a Mormon woman "ought" to be. 

I try to instill in my daughters that they are the children of God— a loving Mother 
and a loving Father eternally united and working for their good. I teach my girls 
that our Heavenly Parents are the singular source from which they can receive 
inspiration and direction about who they are and what their mission in this life 
is. Then, we start talking about how that revelation will likely be bounded by 
revealed truths in scriptures and from prophets. I hope that they will emerge 
from adolescence understanding that there is no single recipe that results in a 
"perfect Mormon woman." 


A large part of what we feminists take issue with in the Church is not doctrine 
as much as culture. I think there are enough of us to change the culture. We 
need to carry ourselves with confidence and pipe up. If we share our insights 
and opinions freely, we will create a new norm. We should enthusiastically 
accept callings to serve the youth and show them as well as tell them that we 
are equals. 



Since Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican 
Presidential nominee, Mormons in their many varieties 
have received unprecedented attention from the 
media. A recurring question Exponent II has received 
from numerous media outlets concerns how Mormon 
feminists feel about Romney as a representative of their 
religion. Now is the time to make your voice heard! 

How do you feel about Romney's nomination and the fact 
that he and his famiiy will become the most recognized 
representatives of Mormonism in the United States? How do 
or don't his policy positions represent core Mormon values 
you cherish? 

Please send your responses to sisterspeak@exponentii. 
org by August 1st, 2012. 

SUMMER 2012 


^^jememkerimi/ Sifter 

Compiled by Exponent II Staff 

On August 1st 2011, our beloved sister, Chieko Okazaki, passed away. With her passing, the LDS community lost one of 
its most charismatic and engaging authors, speakers, and activists. Her experience living in a society in which she was 
often marginalized— whether for her race, her religion, or her sex— offered her a perspective that made her especially 
sensitive to those who felt like they did not "fit in" with LDS Church culture and helped her lead as the first counselor 
and the first woman of color in the General Relief Society presidency in the 1990's. 

We are glad to pay a small tribute to her legacy here by sharing stories from those whose lives have been impacted by 
her profound words of wisdom and inspiring spirit. 

r~^he conversation began with chore charts, but it ended with 
^^^igatsuku. My daughters are aged seven and five, and with 
enough reminders they'll do their chores as assigned, but we 
ran into problems when I asked them to put away their folded 

"But Mom, that's not on the chart." Beth clings to rules. 

Instead of launching into the all-too-familiar litany of "What 
does Daddy do to make our house work? What does Mommy 
do to make our house work?" I landed on kigatsuku. I'm sure I 
explained it terribly. Chieko Okazaki— oh, she was an amazing 
teacher!— would have done better. But they got the gist of it, at 
least: You look for things that need to be done, and you do them 
whether they're your job or not. 

My mother is a schoolteacher, so Chieko's talks always felt 
familiar to me. When she greeted her audience with "Aloha!" 
or brought visual aids to the Tabernacle pulpit, I knew she was 
using classroom tools: Get everyone's attention before you 
teach. Show, don't tell, and have your students participate 
as much as possible. How many of us sitting in stake centers 
watching by satellite called out an "Aloha!" in response, or 
made a cat's cradle in our laps with imaginary yarn? 

I actually met Chieko, face-to-face, when she spoke at a 
Midwest Pilgrims retreat in 2008. She was tiny, and real, and 
kind. She said she didn't understand the temple ceremony 
either. She talked about letting our physical and spiritual beings 
merge together, taking Jesus into the messiest and nastiest 
parts of our lives— the dirty kitchen, the tedious carpool, the 
fight with your husband. After all, what could shock him? When 
one of my friends said, "We've all had the experience of sitting 

in a Church setting and knowing there's a comment out there 
you could make, and you might or might not make it, but you 
know that if you don't say it no one will say anything like it." 
Chieko urged us to say it. Stand up. Say what needs to be said. 

I think of those words often. Be that person. Say the words. 
When you see a need, fill it without waiting to be asked. 

Noticing, developing awareness, realizing— these are the 
qualities that turn children into adults, transforming them from 
beings who follow directions (or not) to beings who act of 
themselves. I want my children to be fully themselves, and if 
possible, I'd like them to learn who they are while they are still 
very young. So we practice. I send them into the donut shop 
with a few dollars, and ask them to choose for themselves. I 
ask them for directions when we're on the subway. Which stop 
is ours? How do we get home? I want them to look adults in 
the eye and ask questions, save their money for something big 
that's important to them, find something they're passionate 
about and spend ridiculous amounts of time doing it. I want 
them to reach for God, and I want them to be the way God 
reaches to others. 

Beth slips her hand into mine as we walk from the playground 
to the car. "I'm Leilani's only friend," she confides. "Everyone 
else won't play with her, but I will. She needs a friend." Sarah 
takes it upon herself to entertain her baby brother and keep him 
away from the stairs. Upon realizing that only boys pass the 
sacrament, she declares loudly, "But that's not fairl" and darts 
off on the path of 5-year-old scheming. Bit by bit, the kigatsuku 
seed bears fruit. 



my father and Eddie Okazaki, Chieko's husband, grew 
Up together on the island of Maui, Hawaii. I felt that 
always gave me an edge whenever I invited Chieko to speak at 
gatherings. Thankfully, she was always generous with her time 
and talents. 

I had no reason to take pride in her accomplishments other 
than that I am also of Japanese descent and from Hawaii. Every 
one of her autographed, published books sits on my shelf. 
Whenever she spoke in general broadcasts, I paid particular 
attention, turning up the volume and basking in her practical 
words of wisdom. I and many others cherished her frank, open 
discussions of gospel topics. Her passing leaves a big hole in 
our hearts. 

Chieko had a tremendous impact on the Japanese-American 
and Asian communities. Prior to her call to the General 
Relief Society Presidency, few Asian names appeared on the 
leadership rosters of wards in the United States. Perhaps 
bishops felt that blonde bouffant hairdos and blue eyes were 
part of the qualifications for ward leadership. But after Chieko 
was called and established herself as a force to be reckoned 
with, women with Japanese surnames began to appear as Relief 
Society presidents in areas where Asians were not the majority. 

Americans can often stereotype Asian women as only being 
quiet, unassuming, and non-assertive. But these traits do not 
lay bare the talent, hard work, and dedication underneath the 
black hair, almond eyes, and petite stature of many of our Asian 
sisters. Chieko helped members see past the stereotypes and 
many were blessed as a result. 

Chieko's legacy is still felt today even across 
the veil! 


C^^ome years ago, Chieko Okazaki 
CXattended the Rocky Mountain Retreat 
as our keynote speaker. When women 
got wind of this, it turned out to be the 
best attended retreat we'd ever had! Her 
reputation through her talks and books 
made the women of the Church want to be 
near her to listen, learn, and feel of her spirit. 

^^Those of us at the retreat 
warmed ourselves at the 
flame of Chieko^ s faith. 

She loved her Savior 
and bore unforgettable 
testimony of Him. She 
loved us and we knew that 
she didy and she became 
part of our hearts. 

We were all sharing a couple of big, rustic 
cabins high in the Colorado mountains, and Chieko immediately 
settled right in as one of us. She wore the customary blue jeans 
and T-shirt (managing, nevertheless, to look her usual chic 
self), enjoyed our Friday night potluck dinner with gusto, and 
made fast friends with each of us. Chieko's particular, special 
gift was making a connection with others; she focused, however 
briefly, on the individual, making each one feel important and 
respected. It wasn't charm or a method— she was simply being 

herself. She was genuinely and passionately interested in other 
people's feelings and lives. 

At the retreat I had been asked to talk a little about the women 
I had been working with while living in Bangladesh, one of the 
poorest countries in the world. In addition to discussing the 
challenges they faced, I showed examples of the exquisite, free- 
form embroidery produced by the women of the villages. No 
one was more interested than Chieko. She was focused on every 
word and asked incisive, penetrating questions. Afterwards she 
examined each piece of embroidered art with deep appreciation 
and pleasure. A few years later, a friend in California heard her 
speak at an event and told me that Chieko had mentioned 
the women of Bangladesh and their remarkable, imaginative, 
embroidered art done in the midst of terrible poverty. 

Those of us at the retreat warmed ourselves at the flame of 
Chieko's faith. She loved her Savior and bore unforgettable 
testimony of Him. She loved us and we knew that she did, and 
she became part of our hearts. When I heard that she had 
passed away, I felt grief for the loss of a dear friend— though I 
had met her just once and briefly. That was the special gift of 
Chieko Okazaki. 


/^hieko Okazaki made a significant difference in my life with 
l^er caring, inclusive messages. Years ago, I was reading 
Cot's Cradle on an airplane to Salt Lake. I was suffering badly 
with depression at the time and her words were a balm to my 
soul. I felt overwhelming comfort, knowing that I was part of 

1 a sisterhood that transcended race, age, 

theology, status, health, wealth, physical 
appearance, or mental state. They were 
all part of her personal journey as well as 
mine. Tears were running down my cheeks. 
The lady next to me on the plane asked me 
what I was reading. I showed her the cover, 
and she asked me if it was good. I sobbed 
that it was an incredible book and that she 
should make sure she found a copy and 
read it. I didn't stop to wonder whether she 
was a Mormon, because it wasn't relevant. 
Listening to Chieko speak made me proud 
to be a Mormon woman. I just wanted to 
stand up and proclaim, "She's one of us!" 
Her personal trials, her insights about the 
scriptures, her imagery, and her use of visual 
symbols took her message beyond language to women around 
the globe. 

I didn't know her personally, but I knew she was my friend 
because she mirrored what mattered in my life. The amazing 
thing is how she mirrored so many disparate sisters. I believe 
that the Savior does it on a cosmic scale with each of us. He 
loves us for who we are and helps us want to be better. Chieko 

SUMMER 2012 


made us all want to be better. 


/remember my husband telling me often about his wonderful 
2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Okazaki. She and her husband had 
just moved to Salt Lake City from Hawaii, and it was her first 
year of teaching. My husband said a favorite memory was the 
first day it snowed. Mrs. Okazaki had never seen snow before 
and was so delighted that she stopped what they were doing 
and rushed the children outside to feel and share the frosty 
falling snowflakes on their cheeks and hands. She brought that 
same joy into her teaching every day. I'm not surprised she 
went on to be a principal. 

I saw her many times over the years and attended every talk 
she would give at BYU Women's Conferences. I read every book 
and article she wrote. I soared with her words. I loved being 
a mother of six children and used the skills I learned from my 
elementary education degree to enjoy my mothering. Though 
raised with the Mormon teaching that a woman's place was 
in the home, I sometimes bristled at these rigid roles. It was 
thrilling to watch Chieko raise her sons while also working full- 
time. She proved that there are many ways to be a good, loving 
mother and wife. 

In the 1990's I attended a women's retreat in Provo Canyon. 
Many of us had come with a sense of dissatisfaction and 
unanswered questions about prescribed women's roles. Chieko 

must allow and reverence our individual stewardships to be 
different and accomplished in our own unique way. Let's quit 
sending the message there is only one way. Weave us together 
into a tapestry of unity, love, and acceptance." Wow. 

There were a few women attending the retreat that were 
lesbians and other women who had a gay or lesbian child. 
They asked Chieko for her thoughts. I loved her answer: "How 
would Jesus treat these people? He loves them. Sometimes we 
struggle with the brethren and the dictates they give us but we 
as individuals should follow Christ's example to listen to our 
loved ones, passionately love them, and accept them as they 
work through with Christ." 

Thank you, Chieko, for mentoring me through your words and 
example. Everytime I feel a frosty snowflake on my cheek I think 
of your joy. 


/yfriend of mine lent me the book Lighten Up! by Chieko 
l/lX)kazaki a few years ago when I was going through an 
emotionally tough time. I opened the first page of Chapter 
One and read a few pages without blinking my eyes, as if I 
received a letter from a best friend. By the time I finished the 
book, Chieko Okazaki indeed became one of my best friends. I 
wanted to listen to her words of comfort, guidance, and wisdom 
and felt she would listen to me with complete understanding 
and compassion. I feel so related to her personally. Like her, I 

was in attendance and started off her talk by handing out balls 
of different colors of yarn. Each woman was asked to share 
something about herself and then weave her yarn around the 
next person's yarn and so on. This continued until the yarn wove 
a colorful tapestry throughout the room. Her message: "There 
are so many ways to be accepted by our Heavenly Father. We 

grew up a child of humble Japanese laborers, my parents were 
Buddhists, I joined the church at the age of 15, 1 could only have 
two children, I am a cancer survivor and often the only Oriental 
woman in my ward. I knew that the book would help me, and it 
did, it does, and it will throughout my life's stages. 



Chieko Okazaki was a great optimist who I need and want to 
become more like. She was confident because she knew who 
she was and what she stood for. I want to be more purposeful 
like her. She was strong spiritually and emotionally because she 
was also able to learn as she went through the sometimes cruel 
experiences of life. She was so understanding of the diversity 
of women and could meet and see women without judgment. 
She was full of a sense of humor. She was full of love that is like 
Christ. I never met her but this is my interpretation of her from 
reading her books and her talks. 

I hope many women will get to know Chieko's perspective, her 
life, her faith, her hope, and her wisdom. I hope many women 
will find a way out of their struggles like I was able to, and gain 
strength to move forward and become a genuinely happy being. 


/Ken I hear a favorite song from the mid- to late '80s, I 
am transported back to my high school days and a more 
carefree time when the whole world was in front of me. I was 
full of hope and promise and ready to take on the world. This 
may sound strange, but the same feeling comes over me when 
I think of the General Relief Society Presidency from 1990-1997. 
Elaine Jack, Chieko Okazaki, and Aileen Clyde were the women 
who defined what Relief Society was when I left Young Women 
behind. Those seven years were vital in shaping how I looked at 
being a Latter-day Saint woman and how I would find my own 
individual path in the Church. 

bottles to show us that even though the doctrines of the gospel 
are essential, the packaging is optional, and the two different 
quilts, showing us that there is no one, right way to be a faithful. 
Mormon woman. 

Her words gave me strength as I tried to find my way as an 
adult. She taught me that it was okay to ask questions and that 
I could search and find answers. She taught me that I should 
regularly evaluate my situation and do what works best for 
my family. She taught me that Christ loves me and does not 
want me to be weighed down by feelings of inadequacy— she 
encouraged me to let Him in and "lighten up." 

I miss her. I am glad I have her writings to turn to when I need 
guidance, solace, and hope. As I read, I feel as if she were a 
close friend, someone who knows me and has faith in me. 

I am grateful that she was there during my formative Relief 
Society years. Though I know there will never be another 
woman quite like her, I pray that someone with her spirit and 
optimism will come along to guide us and help my daughter's 
generation embrace life. 


ARTWORK: Hand Sewn Kimonos \ By Ellen Williams • Georgetown, Texas 

Of the three, Chieko Okazaki seemed to speak the language 
my soul understood the best. Her smile and steady voice were 
what I looked forward to each time. General Conference rolled 
around. Like me, she was a visual learner, and she was one of 
the only speakers to use props to get her points across: a cat's 
cradle to illustrate how our lives interconnect, baskets and 

SUMMER 2012 


Chleho^j^vmERM address 

August 10, 2011 \ By Carol Lee Hawkins ■ Provo, Utah 

/always thought I was one of Chieko's closest friends. She would 
share her life with me, patiently teaching me and enlarging 
my understanding. She'd remind me to laugh and enjoy life. But 
mainly, she gently showed me the way to our Savior with acts 
of Christian service. Her words softened my heart and reminded 
me not to be discouraged but to carry on, knowing that what I 
offered the Lord and those around me was enough. I always felt 
better after I'd been with her. She was my dear friend. 

I'm sure all of us here today feel the same way. And, tens of 
thousands all over the world also claim Chieko as a treasured 
friend just from watching, listening to, and reading her sermons. 
Many of us call her simply "Chieko," a signal of the close bonds 
that bind us together. 

For Chieko, the world of friendship and closeness was unlimited. 
She was not fenced in by the notion that one could only have 
a few "close friends." She was free to bond with many. Chieko 
modeled the principles of Christ's life in her own and shared 
those principles with everyone. Like Jesus, she could talk with 
the modern-day woman at the well, or the outcast fallen by the 
wayside, and give them much needed succor and hope. She was 
a friend to all. 

Who would have guessed that a little Japanese girl from the Big 
Island could touch, inspire, and love so many of us? Her influence 


around the world is especially startling when you consider her 
past. Chieko was born to "goodly parents" of humble means. 
Her mother and father spoke pigeon English and had minimal 
educations. She was born at a time when class distinctions were 
rigid; she found herself in a culture that assigned her the bottom 
rung of society. She knew her place — she was the kitchen help 
in a world of white haole privilege. 

With so many restrictions imposed on her, Chieko should 
jp to be the ultimate conformist. Yet somehow, 
I rules and social taboos did not limit her. As the 
f, "the truth shall make you free," and so it did with 
Chieko. Her conversion to the Gospel of 
Jesus Christ at an early age gave her a new 
framework — a new culture to build her life 
around— one unrestricted by societal norms, 
one that embraced truth and goodness in 
any shape, form, or color. 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ gave her simple 
principles, profound direction, and strength 
to continue on with her education, her 
church service, her community work, and, 
most importantly, with raising her family. 
Under difficult circumstances, those principles gave her stability 
in the midst of the cultural and social revolutions of her times. 
Indeed, Chieko was part of that first generation of Japanese- 
Hawaiians to attend university, be elected to government office, 
and become successful businessmen and women. Such 
change is often chaotic, but Chieko's eyes were clearly 
focused on her newfound gospel, a culture filled with 
powerful principles and led by 

a brilliant, capable, and divine 
leader— Jesus Christ. 

Chieko didn't wave placards or 
stage sit-ins to fight generations 
of discrimination and injustice. 
She simply held to the principles 
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ 
and joyfully moved forward with 

Occasionally Chieko and I would slip away to an outlet mall just 
to look— of course. Without fail, I'd turn my back, leaving Chieko 
to roam the racks, and when I'd return I'd find a woman with tears 
rolling down her cheeks, talking to Chieko. At 
first I couldn't imagine what Chieko had said 
to bring forth this reaction. Then I realized 
that she hadn't uttered a word. Instead, a 
total stranger who knew her only through 
her books or talks had approached her and 
poured out her heart in gratitude. Within 
seconds, these two sisters bonded. And this 
stranger became "another close friend" of 
Chieko's. Everyone— and I mean everyone— 
became her "dear friend." 

have grown i 
these cultura 
scriptures sa\ 

^^Who would have 
guessed that a little 
Japanese girl from 
the Big Island could 
touchy inspire^ and 
love so many ofusV^ 

the community of saints creating a new Zion: A Zion that for her 
had no cultural, social, or economic boundaries; a Zion where 
there was room for all; a Zion with an extra-special welcome for 
the downcast, the needy, the poor, and the hurting. 

That was her gift, her genius. She didn't see boundaries and 
barriers, just possibilities to be reached through principles 
taught by her Savior. Indeed, Chieko often reminded us of this 
with the power of one of her favorite statements: "In principles 
great clarity, in practices great charity." 

Just as she lived her life with simplicity, clarity, and charity, so 
also she taught. And oh, how she taught! Do you 
/i y remember these? [Carol Lee holds up paddles] Who 
1 M ^k^^ canforgetChiekobringingthesecanoepaddlestothe 
L ^^^^K Tabernacle to teach us about faith and study? Who 
^^^P^P ^ can forget her playing Cat's Cradle or spinning 
j^^^^^^X^ her yo-yos from the pulpit to illustrate gospel 

yI ^^M^^^^^ principles? Who can forget how she shared her 
mj^^^^^^ personal hardships and pain, which in turn gave 

■f us permission to talk about our own? Who can forget 

the spirit and call to action that she inspired in us every 
time she spoke? Chieko taught as though she were talking 
to each one of us as a trusted friend. And by the end of her 
sermons, we truly felt we could claim her as our own. She won 
'Birds of Porodise', by Stefanie Corson Nickoloisen • Phoenix, Arizona 

Pliotograpli Provided by Jessica Steed • Phoenix, Arizona 
US over with the love of Christ. 

This last year, when Chieko's physical heart failed her, when 
a lack of oxygen restricted her ability to speak, Chieko spent 
her limited energy expressing love, gratitude, and thanks to 
family, friends and strangers. In that, she found great peace and 

Chieko understood the transformative power of charity and 
love. She knew her Savior and basked in the joy of His constant 
companionship. She wouldn't want us to worry about her. She 
would want us to reach out to each other and to our Savior. I 
believe her parting advice to us would be similar to that of 
Moroni at the conclusion of the Book of Mormon. 

"Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may 
be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are 
true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ, that ye may become the 
sons [and daughters] of God; that when he shall appear ye shall 
be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this 
hope that we may be purified even as he is pure." 

This is my prayer for all of us. I say this in the name of Chieko's 
closest friend, Jesus Christ, Amen. 7k\ 

SUMMER 2012 15 

GOODNESS Gracious 

'\..with a mental image of both Chieko and Christ bearing me up at my elbows, I made it across the 
threshold and said goodbye to my mother It was the most terrifying and courageous thing I have 
ever done/' \ By Linda Hoffman Kimball ■ Evanston, Illinois 

/n July of 1994 my two sisters and I arrived at the door to our 
mother's hospital room. Mom was in a coma as a result of a 
massive stroke. The doctors told us there was no quality of life 
left and that Mom (who had been a nurse) had a DNR (Do Not 
Resuscitate) order. We hoped that she wouldn't linger too long 
in her coma, just long enough for us to say our goodbyes. 

But I couldn't say goodbye. My sisters walked right into her 
room where she lay. I had flown in to do this very thing, and I 
simply couldn't do it. 

I couldn't cross the threshold. I just couldn't 
go in the room. It was as impossible 
to walk into that room as if a steel 
wall barred the way. Even as I felt 
this urgent physical paralysis at 
the door to her room, I knew 
it wasn't rational, which, on 
top of everything else, was 
embarrassing. Of course there 
wasn't anything blocking 
the door. But I felt absolutely 
incapable of saying goodbye. 

That night I mourned over my inability to go in to see and touch 
my mom. I remembered these powerful verses in Matthew 11 

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and 
lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 

I was more heavy laden and fraught than at any other time of 
my life. As much as I tried to lean on Jesus, at that moment He 
wasn't tangible enough. I craved more substantial 

Then another thought came. The last 
time I focused on that scripture 
was hearing Chieko Okasaki at 
the Marriott Center in Provo. 
It was about a year after her 
husband's death. She spoke 
about those verses and of her 
grief, her love, her loss. She 
spoke about Christ's invitation 
to take His yoke upon us in 
such times, and how that meant 
being yokemates with the Savior 
who had overcome all. Together we 
could manage. Together with Christ, 
she had managed. She spoke about the 
boundless love the Savior has for us. She 
spoke about how much she loved us— each of us 
in that vast arena. 

I believed her. I believed every word she spoke. 

D&C 46:14 says, "To [some] it is given to believe on the words 
of [others], that they also might have eternal life. ..." This was a 
gift granted me by God through Chieko. She was tangible, and 
I believed her. 

The next day, with a mental image of both Chieko and Christ 

bearing me up at my elbows, I made it across the threshold 
and said goodbye to my mother. It was the most terrifying and 
courageous thing I have ever done. I held her hand and spoke to 
her. I prayed for her. Through the power of my faith I blessed her 
and thanked her and wished her well on her journey. 

Mom lingered on two more weeks before she died, and I took 
another occasion or two to visit her unconscious self. My 
sisters and I were primarily busy getting her chaotic affairs in 
order and bolstering each other up as we sorted through her 

I sent a note to Chieko— who didn't know me from Eve- 
explaining how instrumental she had been in helping me 
through this grim passage. She wrote back a simple, loving 
note. I attended a couple of women's retreats where she 
was the vibrant, compassionate speaker. I introduced myself 
quietly as the "one you helped when my mother died," but I 
had the feeling that there were millions of us who had intimate 
and personal spiritual encounters because Chieko was the 
instrument through which God performed miracles. I attended 
her funeral last August and learned just how true that was. 

Thank you, Chieko. Aloha. 






Today I'm scrubbing chocolate spots 


Do you hear the cries of the child. 

after gathering the neighbor child's 


the child no one sees? 

ribbons from my damask chair. 

The child who tried so desperately 

thinking how her fidgety hands 

everyone to please? 

have smeared the French windows 


and left Popsicle prints across my gilded 

The child never meant to cause sorrow. 

light switch. 1 watch her towhead 

she just wanted happiness 

bobbing across the lawn beyond 

But with the child now resides 

the bougainvillea as she threatens to twist 

pain, confusion, and aloneness. 

off the geranium blooms 


and capture the cat. 


The child retreated alone in her pain. 

withdrawing to a place no one can find. 

Our extra bedroom has become 

Hiding from the world that hurt her so much. 

a collecting place for this gremlin's 


the child exists only in her mind. 

wardrobe, complete with jewelry stand. 


pairs of black heeled shoes, sparkling 

In the darkness the child often dreams 

little Capezios and grimy-footed tights 


of you comforting her by your side. 

1 dutifully wash by hand in the porcelain 


The child dreams of your loving embrace. 

sink each evening, after 1 iron miniature 

your arms and heart opened wide. 

clothes and slip peanut butter sandwiches 

into a backpack layered with homework. 


Mourn for the child that was. 

then kiss her goodnight and walk her home- 

the child who never had a chance to be. 

thinking how sometimes in this life. 


Look for the child hiding deep within 

we are offered redemption. 


for that frightened child was me. 

SUMMER 2012 


A NEW KIND OF Pixmeer 

"\ was pleased to see the Spring 2012 volume dealing with LGBTQ journeys of faith. How refreshing and 
close to my heart. After I read the volume, I just had to put my feelings down on paper and share them. 
Thank you for compelling me to express my words.'' \ By Kelly Montgomery ■ Lakewood, Washington 

my heart sank when I saw the envelope from the president 
6f the Auburn Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter-day Saints. My hands trembled and I held my breath as 
I read those black words on that white paper. Bishop's court. 

I was 19 years old. I'm 43 now. I never went to the Bishop's 
court, but my family did. They provided the evidence needed to 
excommunicate me because I was a lesbian. 

I have never been ashamed of my excommunication. I have 
been hurt, angry, indifferent, and glad, depending on where I 
was in my life. Over the past several years, I 
have been humbly proud. 

My story isn't that much different than other 
lesbian Mormons, except, perhaps, that my 
partner and I are very much out and also very 
active in our ward. We live in Washington 
state. My partner and I have four kids aged 
from 16 years old to 17 months. Our Sunday 
mornings are no different from any other 
member's Sunday mornings ... hectically 
wrangling kids so we can be on time to church. 

I want to say that we are pioneers. I tell myself 
this right before the sacrament prayers every 
week, when I try to find that place in my heart 
where I feel close to my Savior. I cannot take 
the sacrament, but as I listen to those sacred 
prayers, I covenant with my Father in Heaven 
how, in the upcoming week, I can "take upon me the name of 
thy Son" and "always remember Him" and how even though I'm 
gay. He shed his blood for me. I think about how I can remember 
Him as I'm going about my days, at work and with my partner 
and kids, and I renew my belief that His Spirit will be with me if 
I but try. I watch others place the bread on their tongues and tip 
their heads back partaking of the water. Sometimes I can't help 
but wonder if they know how fortunate they are to be able to 
engage in such a sacred and wonderful ordinance. 

As I sit in Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society, I often reflect on 
how I would cherish the privilege of being able to teach a lesson 
or say a prayer or bear my testimony. There have been so many 
times when I've felt that fire burning in my spirit where my legs 
nearly lifted me off the bench and propelled me forward to 
share my sincere beliefs with my brothers and sisters during a 
fast and testimony meeting. In February 2011, our little guy was 
blessed during sacrament meeting. How I longed to hold him in 
my arms and express from the pulpit my love for my Father in 
Heaven, my Elder Brother, my partner, and my precious children. 
I wished to bear testimony that I believed in personal revelation 
because I knew from the first time I saw our 
sweet little boy that he was meant to be my 
child, even though I had not birthed him. 

How I long to pay tithing and fast offerings. 
How I wish for a calling. My partner and I 
serve where we're allowed; we make a lot of 
meals for missionaries and for members who 
are sick or recovering from childbirth. I'm a 
lawyer, so I often give legal advice to those in 
need. It isn't nearly enough, though. My heart 
longs to serve. 

I am happy to say that we have been treated 
pretty kindly by the membership in our ward. 
We have never hidden our relationship. I 
think the majority of the members in our 
ward see that our family is really not much 
different from their own families: We love 
our kids, we pray together, we have Family Home Evening, our 
kids go to Mutual and Seminary, we have a lovely home where 
we do our best to live the gospel. Some may believe that we 
don't live the gospel, because we defy the Church's position on 
homosexuality. That is an interesting conversation. My partner 
and I are registered domestic partners— we're as married as we 
can be. 

I wish I could have the prophet sit down with my family during 
dinner and spend a little time with us. The prophet seems to 

^^}X^e love our kidsy we pray 
togethery we have Family 
Home Evenings our kids go 
to mutual and seminary^ 
we have a lovely home 
where we do our best to 
live the Gospel. Some may 
believe that we dont live 
the Gosepl because we defy 
the Churches position on 
homosexuality. " 




Oh, Elizabeth! How my heart yearns 
To see you again, 
To feel your comforting arms 
Around me 
As they did in the "first months" 
Away from the piercing eyes 
And prying lips of Nazareth, 
The looks of accusation. 
The words of shame. 
You were my solace and retreat. 
For you knew the Spirit's voice also. 
Announcing sons for your barren womb (a 

And my virgin one. 
Sons of destiny for each of us 
According to God's miracles. 
Who knows when our paths 
May cross again? 
We both fled from Herod's wrath. 
You to the desert as a widow. 
From which you have never returned. 
Myself to a foreign land. 
Then returning to my village 
That all the prophecies 
Of God's servants might be fulfilled. 
When will our sons meet? 
For to meet they must — 
Your John, my Jesus — 
For together they have a mighty work to 

Whose end we cannot comprehend. 
Our lives, first bonded by blood. 
Are inextricably linked by spirit. 
And history will forever think of us together. 

We, two mothers. 
Have only been allowed to see the beginning. 
But in our God-given natures 
We will nurture and love 
to the end that all might 
Receive immortality and eternal life 
To God's glory. 

be so wise, so loving and caring— I believe he would leave our 
humble home feeling the Spirit that is here. It is a Spirit of love 
and teaching, forgiveness and repentance, acceptance and 
striving. He'd see our kids thriving and happy. He'd see a loving, 
committed relationship between two women who adore each 
other and work hard at raising a successful family. 

Lately, I've been humbly proud about my excommunication. 
One might ask why. The simple answer is that being a non- 
member has made me a better Mormon. I can't take anything 
for granted, from the simplest act of service to the most 
complex parenting challenge. I do not know what the hereafter 
holds for my partner and myself, but my prayers in that regard 
have been answered. I don't really need to know the details, 
because the soft whisperings of the Spirit tell me I'm okay 
and that we'll be okay. It's an interesting perspective for me, 
because as a lawyer, I act as an advocate for something. The 
Savior is my advocate. We are blessed as a family every day 
and even though my membership has been taken away, I do not 
believe that the Holy Ghost has left me. 

I am a pioneer. I probably won't have anything to do with 

great worldwide understanding or acceptance of gay Mormon 

families, but I might have an impact on the person who sits in 

the pew behind me, and I know I have an impact on my children. 

SUMMER 2012 




through IRjdie^ 

"...the work of Relief Society is to progress, grow, and become like our IHeavenly Mother Each act of 
becoming our full self is the work of Relief Society.'' \ By Brenda Thomas ■ Hurricane, Utah 

/offered to speak today only if I could speak on the history of 
Relief Society. March 17, 2012, marked 170 years since the 
first meeting of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. As we look 
to the past and the great work that Relief Society sisters have 
done throughout its history, I hope all of us will find renewed 
vigor to stand up and make good things happen today. 

I have always loved the Relief Society. My mother instilled this 
in me by her example of attending her Relief Society meetings 
and fully participating with the sisters. She still loves serving 
in the Relief Society, but it was not until I moved to the Boston 
area that Relief Society became deeply important to me. It was 
there that I had several Sunday lessons on the history of Relief 
Society. I soon started reading and researching on my own. I 
wanted to learn more about the exciting things that Relief 
Society sisters had done in the past. 

This history became especially real and significant to me when 
I was asked to teach a Relief Society lesson on the Singing 
Mothers. These choirs of women were organized in each 
ward, stake, and mission throughout the world. There was 
also a general Singing Mothers Choir composed 
of women from the Salt Lake City area that 
was featured on radio and television. 
These groups of Relief Society sisters 
performed at sacrament meetings and 
stake and district conferences, and were 
even occasionally bused to 
larger events like General 
Conferences and Worlds 
Fairs. My own grandma, 
Margaret Church 
Callister, performed 
with the Singing 
Mothers when she 
was a mother of young 
f^Wnm children. When I asked 

my grandma about her experience, I could feel her enthusiasm 
over the phone from 2,000 miles away. She said she was thrilled 
to sing with the Singing Mothers, and shared what a welcome 
break it had been from her daily life. 

I have also learned from sisters in my current ward about their 
experiences in the Relief Society. While recently visiting with 
an older sister, she shared childhood memories of going with 
her mother to homes where a new baby had been born. This 
was about 100 years ago, before hospitals were available in 
rural and relatively newly settled Southern Utah, and babies 
were delivered at home. While visiting, the children would play 
outside the house, but at some time during the day, the new 
mother would tap on the window and show the children the 
new baby. Her mother had been the Relief Society president 
for years in Toquerville, Utah, and she attended to the new 
mothers, the sick, and the dying. The Relief Society sisters were 
always there to help. 

As I learned of these and other personal experiences, I came 
to understand that this organization is much more than I had 
previously realized. These sisters showed me that the work of 
Relief Society is to reach beyond ourselves and our families to 
improve our communities and our world. 

Throughout its history. Relief Society sisters all over the world 
have been engaged in this expansive work. They have been 
there to sew clothes for the destitute; to raise, store, and 
harvest grain for the hungry; to build hospitals and maternity 
wards; to train nurses and nurses' aides; and to find homes 
for adoptive babies and jobs for young women in need of 
employment. They have worked with the Red Cross in providing 
emergency aid, sewed bandages for the wounded, and prepared 
wartime bundles to send to those in war-torn countries. They 
have written stories for and edited their own magazine (for 
over 100 years— The Women's Exponent and The Relief Society 
Magazine), they have taught literature lessons on Shakespeare 


and Emerson, and cultural refinement lessons on Brazil and 
Germany. They have worked with other women in national 
and international organizations to promote understanding 
and peace across religious and national boundaries. Relief 
Society sisters have served as missionaries sharing the gospel. 
They have held bazaars and written books to raise money to 
construct their own buildings, aid their neighbors, and carry out 
worldwide humanitarian projects. They have been women of 
action. When they saw a need, they stood up and worked to 
make things better. 

Why did these early Relief Society sisters do all of these things? 
What was the impetus to go out into the world and make 
a difference? Wouldn't it have been easier to stay home and 
focus on their own families? To say that changing the world was 
someone else's job? 

One of the greatest works Relief Society sisters have been 
involved in would seem to some to have been better left to 
others: women's suffrage. It was in 1870 when Utah was still a 
territory that women met together in the Tabernacle to protest 
the anti-polygamy bill that had just been passed in Congress. 
Three thousand women gathered at the Tabernacle; the only 
men present were reporters, and they were impressed with the 
intelligence, courage, and strength of these Mormon women. 
When the leading Relief Society sisters stood up to speak, 
five out of the 13 speakers "made connections between their 
personal and religious freedom and their rights as citizens 
and as women." ^2] They asked for the right to vote. It was a 
month later that women gained the franchise in the Utah 
territory. But the fight for women's suffrage did not end there. 
With subsequent anti-polygamy bills, all women and Mormon 
men were denied the franchise. Years later, when Utah finally 
achieved statehood, the women did not sit back idly, waiting for 
someone else to speak up for them. They organized, petitioned, 
and worked tirelessly to get the Utah state constitution to 
include their right to vote. These women gained that right, for 
good, almost 25 years before the 19th amendment gave the 
franchise to women across the United States. 

I hope that their work has not been in vain. I hope that we 
take seriously this right that Relief Society leaders worked 
so diligently to bring to pass. Do you really look at the issues 
before you go in to vote? Do you look at all the possibilities, 
choosing the best from all sources before you decide whom to 
vote for? When I look at political issues, I seek for that which 
fits best with what I believe, regardless of political parties, and 
in doing this I am following the example of my Relief Society 
ancestors, who took their rights seriously and worked hard for 
what they believed in. 

In the spring of 1842, when Sarah Kimball 
and Miss Cook wanted to create a society 
of women to make shirts for the men 
building the temple in Nauvoo, they had in 
mind a group that would give service and 
would enjoy socializing together. When 
Joseph Smith heard about the proposed 
society, he said he had something better in 
store for the sisters. He knew the sisters could 
do greater work than sewing, and he knew 
that their eternal salvation depended on it. 
Joseph Smith's vision of the Relief Society 
was centered on preparing the women 
of the Church to receive the ordinances 
of the temple. He had already given the 
temple endowment to men by the time 
the Relief Society was organized, but he 
knew that neither the temple ordinances 
nor the Church were complete without 
women receiving them as well. 

And so, when Joseph Smith organized 
the Relief Society on March 17, 1842, he 
gave the sisters the keys to administer 
their own society and receive their 
own revelation. He intended the work 
to lead them to a fuller understanding 
of themselves, their duties, and their 
possibilities. This was accomplished not 
only through women serving in the Relief 
Society but also through their participation in 
temple ordinances. The temple endowment 
symbolically moves us in an upward 
progression as we advance in knowledge. 
The eternal goal is not only to enter the 
presence of our heavenly parents but 
also to become like them. Thus, the work 
of Relief Society is to progress, grow, and 
become like our Heavenly Mother. Each 
act of becoming our full self is the work of 
Relief Society. This is not limited to spiritual 
things. We are not whole and complete if we 
only read scriptures all day. The work of 
Relief Society encompasses all that we do 
to develop our talents in service to others 
and in becoming our best selves. 

One hundred years ago, Ruth May Fox, 
third General President of the Young 
Women, wrote a play based on Jesus' ^-^^^rti 

parable of the ten talents. It portrays Heavenly Mother with her 
daughters in the premortal life. She gives each young woman a 
gift, such as wisdom, love, and endurance. They are sent forth 
into the world to see what they will make of their talents. At the 
end of the play. Heavenly Mother returns to her daughters to 
get a report of what they did with their gifts. , 

We also have been given gifts and talents 
by our Heavenly Parents, who love us and 
are watching over us. When we work to 
develop and use these talents and gifts, 
we are not only following the examples 
of our Relief Society ancestors, but we are 
also doing the work of Relief Society in our 
day. Although we are no longer asked by 
our Relief Society leaders to stock our own 
stores with homemade goods or to train as 
nurses or to raise our own silk worms, we 
can still creatively do Relief Society work in 
our wards, communities, and the world. 

^^When I look at political 

issueSy I seek for that 
which fits best with what 
I helievcy regardless of 
political partiesy and in 
doing this I am following 
the example of my Relief 
Society ancestors who took 
their rights seriously and 
worked hard for what they 
believed in. " 

And so I would ask: What are you doing with the gifts and 
talents given you by Heavenly Parents? Have you found 
your niche, your special place where you can serve? Are you 
stretching yourself, expanding your vision and standing up and 
doing something in the world? Now, none of us are exactly like 

1 Eliza R. Snow, Emmeline B. Wells, or Belle 

Spafford. We are all unique and different, 
and that is why our work as Relief Society 
sisters will all be different. But we all have 
an important work to do, and we will be held 
accountable by our Heavenly Parents for the 
Relief Society work we do here with the gifts 
we have been given. 

Let us each examine our lives and evaluate 
how we are using our time and talents. And 
let each of us stand up and do something 
in the world to make it a better place. In 
doing this, we are fulfilling the work of Relief 
Society and becoming like our Heavenly 
Mother, which is our ultimate goal. 

As one Relief Society sister, Claudia 
Bushman, has said, "It is not as important to find the right 
thing to do, which may not exist, as it is to do something. 
Action must be taken." This is the work of the Relief Society: 
to stand up using our talents to make positive things happen, 
and I see women doing it all around me. I see women working 
diligently to teach children in our schools; I see women serving 
others in the medical profession as nurses, nurse practitioners, 
doctors, and dentists; I see women helping to improve our 
parks and play areas; and I see others who contribute greatly 
to community events. I know women who have started non- 
profit organizations to take dental supplies and care to children 
in orphanages in Bolivia, to build homes in Uganda, to educate 
children in Jordan, and to stop pornography in the United 
States. These are all Relief Society sisters; they are all doing 
Relief Society work. 

[1] The Relief Society was a charter member of the International Council of 
Women from its founding in 1888 and the United States National Council 
of Women from 1891. Women in the Relief Society actively participated 
in these councils, often in leadership roles, until 1987. (See Jill Mulvay 
Derr, Janath Russell Cannon and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Women of 
Covenant [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, and Provo, Utah: 
Brigham Young University Press, 1992]; pp. 137-138.) 

[2] Lola Van Wagenen, Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics 
of Woman Suffrage 1870-1896 (Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University, 
1994, published by Joseph Fielding Smith Institute and BYU Studies, 2004). 

[3] Claudia Bushman, The Lives of Mormon Women (2006 FAIR Conference). 




Reviewed By Elouise Bell ■ Edmond, Oklahoma 

^very good poem is a story, even if it is not a narrative. And every 
w^ood story is true, even if it did not actually happen. 

In Mary Lythgoe Bradford's collection. Purple, (Dialogue Foundation, 
Salt Lake City, 2009), the poems tell stories so rich that each 
can be mined for many different rewards. Few writers speak so 
frankly and freshly about love in the Crone years, so honestly 
about married love, so deliciously about the taste of words. But 
for me, the theme most powerfully presented is that of the Eternal 
Female— complex, confounded, short-changed, enlightened, and 
relentlessly triumphant. 

"I Remember" charts the treacherous path. The girl of Five gains 
confidence from tying her shoes, a confidence that soon splinters. 
Baptized at Eight, securely held by her father, she regains confidence 
enough to imitate Icarus, her chicken-wire wings defying gravity 
itself. She plays baseball at Twelve, but the apples are now rotten 
for young Eve, and she looks about for rescue, "already searching 
for power/outside my own body." At Fourteen, her body mocks her 
with a bloody stain: "Betrayal lay behind every tree/ in the orchard." 
Entire novels have dramatized this road less vividly. 

The poem "My Brothers" draws a graph of the rise and fall of 
power often experienced by older sisters. One brother is at first 
a confidante and companion, another the baby brother, in the 
narrator's charge, "waiting for rescue," snatched from danger. But 
then "I become his charge. . ./ I move protected /in my brothers' 
world." Males grow from limitation to strength, from protected to 
protecting, but for females, the vigorous, self-assured innocence of 
girlhood is often as high as they fly. First-born status is definitive 
only if you are a male. 

Bradford gives the reader several poems in which the story's depth 
is veiled, to explode only in the final line. In the intriguing verse, 
"To Grendel," she tells the Gothic tale of the Monster who comes 
"slogging through the swamp," catches and raises the Maiden 
above his head, where she can see the stars and dream of flying. 
But disaster prevails; she feels the claws, sees the jaws, the red 
entrails, and, yes, possibly a "flash of love" in the monstrous eye. 

Unsure, the Maiden asks: 
"Was it only the last branch 
of sky reflecting/so it's you 

swallowed me and set me free"? The power of that final line 
vibrates like a gong long after we've read the poem. How does 
being devoured set the Maiden free? Free from what? To do what? 
Live free from the stress of making any choice at all? 

If the System is determined to diminish the Female, Bradford's 
woman is relentless in her resistance to that fate. She speaks 
ironically, sarcastically and fully awake in "To the Surgeon," giving 
him "permission," saying, "Whittle me down to size," "excise the 
hopes that refuse to die." This Woman has a larger presence than 
the System finds comfortable. So out comes the blade, to cut 
through "this expanse of thigh/these hanging garden breasts, / 
these folds called hips." Most threateningly, the blade is invited to 
the eye and the brain, wherein reside the truest conception of Self, 
the strongest confidence, as well as the rarest treasures of faith 
and hope. Go for the lobotomy, the Woman taunts; otherwise, she 
will indeed "try again." 

In a hugely insightful poem, the narrator's adult Self speaks to her 
child Self, explaining "The Difference" between the pain the girl 
child has felt at being thwarted, and her own ongoing agony. The 
child "cannot suffer nobly nor fling a wild/curse at the sky and die,/ 
she can only flinch and cry." The tragic suffering, the clenched fist, 
the wild curse of the Woman belong to the Heroic tradition: "You 
are pathos, I the protagonist." The difference is between being 
done to ... and doing. 

Make no mistake. Mary Bradford, in this extraordinary collection, 
is indeed doing, with power, wit, and deep insight not cheaply 
bought. Poet Jo Harjo has said, "Sometimes people need stories 
more than they need bread." My reading of Mormon women's 
writings, especially on major blogsites such as Feminist Mormon 
Housewives, convinces me Mormon women are hungry for 
substantial true stories. Purple is nourishment to make the soul fly. 

SUMMER 2012 




Author Joanna Brooks 

Reviewed By Lisa Patterson Butterworth ■ Boise, Idaho 

m WW. I ctouble toe you to «, 
in yom twA <4ub. Etoe if w„ , 

tt«Jo««* Brooks ha**i>«l*lmnd«uy^ajrt^^ 

the book of 

mormon oth 

/fFi a possible impending Mormon presidency, it seems like 
everyone is trying to figure out the Mormons. Now is the 
perfect time to hand out a copy of The Book of Mormon Girl. Joanna 
Brooks has a knack for telling stories that are simultaneously 
relatable to all human experience and full of peculiar Mormoniness. 
She opens the memoir during a Family Home Evening and within the 
first several pages she manages to organically explain embodied 
Mormon theology, convey the richness and purpose of Mormon 
family life, and charm my socks right off. 

More than any one detail, the richness of Brooks' narrative 
illustrates a truth that is very hard to communicate to someone 
who is not familiar with Mormons, namely, how deeply Mormonism 
shapes a person's entire worldview. Every small choice can take 
on peculiar significance— Brooks did not just choose a root beer 
over a Coke, her choice was meant to separate herself from "the 
world," demonstrating her devotion to God. She was not just a 
Marie Osmond fangirl. No, Osmond was her guide as she strived 
for perfection and prepared herself for eternal salvation. Every 
earthquake, every skirmish was a sign that the 
millenium was nigh: 

and learned to put the matter of 
polygamy on the shelf. But I was 
not a root beer among Cokes. I 
lived in small town Utah, a root 
beer among root beers. And it 
never even occurred to me to 
apply to BYU. I can't think of 
any of my root beer peers who 
went to BYU. Perhaps it was too expensive? None of us had 
ever heard of Eugene England or noticed that a purge was taking 

While I never heard Packer declare that feminists, intellectuals, 
and homosexuals were a threat to the Church, nor experienced 
Brooks' intense and dramatic front-seat view of the purge, I still 
knew and feared, as the first glimmers of my feminist awakening 
arrived, that if anyone heard my questions, if anyone knew of my 
doubts, that I too would feel deep rejection when the Church no 
longer wanted me. 


What a gift it was growing up in a world taut with 
conflict and luminous with meaning. Time was not 
empty ... No. Time was a vector of godly intention, 
the fractal plume of something expansive and 
infinite, and my purpose— and I knew it— to discern 
the patterns of its unfolding. 

Yes! That is how it feels to be a Mormon girl. 
It feels powerful, important, and fraught with 
purpose. Purpose in dancing together, purpose 
in singing together, purpose in being together as 
Mormons. And it explains so perfectly the deep 
rejection she felt when it seemed that the Church 
no longer wanted her. 

I was blissfully unaware of the Mormon happenings in the late 
80s and 90s when Joanna experienced first-hand the revival 
of Mormon feminism at BYU and then subsequent firings and 
excommunications of her mentors and dear friends. I wish I could 
have sat with Brooks in classes from Eugene England and Cecilia 
Conchar Farr, to learn with them that "all are alike unto God." 

But as with any story, some parts of my own Mormon story 
resembled Brooks' and others did not. I, too, had giant tins of food 
storage wheat hidden under the stairs. I loved my pragmatic Young 
Women leaders, heard my fair share of horrifying object lessons, 


''Joanna Brooks' 
memoir has opened 
the door for others 

to share in the 
experience of many 
hurtingy questioning 
members who often 
get left out of the 
official Mormon 

These similarities and differences are the 
reasons we all need to tell our stories. It is vital 
to hear stories from like-minded folk to affirm 
our experiences, but it is also with these familiar 
details that we build a bridge back to those who 
haven't struggled with questions or felt the 
subsequent rejection. Hopefully they too can see 
pieces of themselves in us and gain empathy. 

What drives people to leave the Church? Is it the 
questions or is it the instant rejection, the hurt, 
the confusion we feel from our community the 
minute those questions arrive? We all know how 
the packaged story goes: they were "offended"; 
They took the "truth to be too hard"; they wanted 
to sin and they left. These narratives have been 
packaged and we have internalized them, believing that perhaps 
we really don't deserve to belong after all. By telling our stories, 
those dismissive narratives must give way to complex realities. 

Joanna Brooks' memoir has opened the door for others to share in 
the experience of many hurting, questioning members who often 
get left out of the official Mormon story. I love the Church, and it 
will always be my home— not in a temporal, casual way but in a 
bone-deep, blood of my ancestors, shaper of my past, present, and 
eternal future way. I want my story to be told. And Joanna Brooks 
has beautifully added to that telling— for all of us. .-^I^. 


A BAR... 

Who says 
feminists can't 
be funny? 

This summer, we wanted to try something different at Exponent II: a humor feature! So we asked you, our dear readers, to tell 
us your funny Mormon feminist stories. Then, we discovered the Mormon "Hey Girl" Ryan Gosling memes^^^ created by three 
Salt Lake City women, all recent high school graduates, and we knew they'd complement these stories perfectly. 

In January 2009, the first Ryan Gosling memes began to appear on the Internet. With a candid picture of the actor and a silly 
made-up quote always beginning with, "Hey Girl," fans would have Ryan say what they most wanted to hear, such as, "Hey 
Girl, can I kiss you through the phone?" Variations of this theme could be found on Tumblr,^^] Tumblr's Feminist Ryan 

Gosling that got our attention this past fall when Ryan moved from the usual come-on lines — "Hey Girl, sorry my shirt fell 
off" — to some pithy feminist critiques: "Sometimes I think about Foucault's theory of marriage as a governmentally developed 
tool that interferes with the appropriation of land rights, normalizes heterosexuality, and subjugates a woman's sexuality, and 
it makes me want to cry with you." 

It was in this vein that Ellen Lewis, Sagan Gotberg, and Whitney Paige came up with "Mormon Hey Girl" this winter, but 
instead of feminist critiques, they offer hilarious references to Mormon culture and doctrine. Given Ryan Gosling's Mormon 
upbringing, it seems all the more plausible that he might just ask one lucky girl if he could be her stripling warrior. 

I] A meme is an idea, spread visually on the Web as a video, website, or, in this case, picture. 

2.] Tunnblr is a short-fornn blogging platfornn that specializes in quick, often visual entries, as opposed to traditional text-rich blogs. 

After graduating from BYU, I spent most of my early adult life 
in some of the more liberal university wards of the Church- 
Berkeley, CA, Cambridge, MA, Hyde Park, I L— where feminist 
concerns were regularly part of the discussion in Relief Society. 
When I moved to Los Angeles, I soon discovered that such 
concerns were at best suspect, at worst unwelcome, in my new 
ward. After one particular lesson, during which I made what 
I thought to be a rather tame feminist observation, my Relief 
Society president pulled me aside. She told me she thought my 
comment was disruptive of her mission as she saw it, which 

was to ensure that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught 
in her Relief Society, and suggested, without irony, that I'd 
probably be happier in Elder's Quorum. 

Perhaps she was right. She called laterthat evening to apologize, 
much to her credit, and sheepishly added, "I spoke with [my 
husband] about what happened. He grinned and said, 'No 
one expects the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be taught in Elder's 


SUMMER 2012 



Do you believe 
in modern day 

Because, girl, 
you are a vision! 

On March 8, 1992, I was teaching English in China. Our city, 
Qingdao, invited all the foreign teachers to attend a celebration 
in honor of International Women's Day. We were assured this 
was a very big deal, with special speakers, a fancy meal, and 
special party favors. The truth is, none of these events were 
optional. At least once a month the city would invite/order us 
foreigners to attend some event or another. And the food that 
was meant to impress us was horrifying to a picky eater like me. 
Spare me your "delicacies" like silk worm larvae, sea slug, and 
cow tendon and give me some freakin' sweet and sour chicken. 
But I digress. 

The 12 of us expats arrived at the Qingdao Hotel ballroom, 
took our seats, and wondered how on earth women would be 
celebrated by the very patriarchal group of Communist officials. 
First there were speeches. All by men. Art work was displayed. 
By male artists. A band played. Yup, not a skirt in the bunch. 
One of the teachers there, a woman name Cede, was a very 
traditional Iranian and wore the chador. I knew things were bad 
when Cede started to get angry and was murmuring in Farsee 
under her breath. 

Sometimes things get so nutty that they cross over into the 
hysterical. At first we were shocked, then offended, but by the 
end of the ceremony we were all trying very hard not to laugh 
out loud. And that's when they gave us our goody bags. Fran, 
another teacher at my school, opened hers first and pulled out 
several giant maxi pads. Jean, a British teacher said, "Is that a 
sanitary napkin?\" Yes. Our party/panty favors were a bag full 
of the biggest Kotex pads you have ever seen. We all lost it. 
Tears streamed down our faces. "Well," I said, "it's the only truly 
female thing about this celebration." The post-menopausal 
among us were going to trash the favors but I collected them all. 
I had recently purchased a gorgeous set of dishes with imperial 
dragons on them and had been wondering how I was going to 
ship them safely back to the States. That night I peeled off the 
tabs on the bottom of the pads and securely affixed two to each 
dish and stacked them into a box. Thanks to the thoughtfulness 
of Qingdao's Communist Party officials, not a single dish broke! 
Hooray for Women! 


My sister and I hiked an active volcano while she was visiting 
me in Guatemala. We were hiking with a group of about 15 
back-packing tourists. The last 20 minutes of the hike to reach 
the summit were over glass-sharp lava rock and we were all 
treading very carefully so as not to slip and shred a hand if we 
tried to stop a fall. To reach the summit and peer into the hot 
molten lava flow we had to make a single file line, since only 
one person could peer at a time. One after another, as each 
person saw the lava and felt the heat sizzle at their eyebrows, 
each did the most natural thing most people would: toss out an 
explicative. Waiting in line we heard one after another, until my 
sister, from Utah, had her turn: "Holy Crap!" 


During sharing time, the counselor in the Primary presidency 
was teaching the assigned weekly lesson from the outline, 
which on this particular week was about the Priesthood. She 
began by playing the game, "Try to guess the word." These 
games never work for me, but she was giving it a try. So she gave 
the following clues: "This word starts with a 'P.' This word is 
something that is powerful and from God, and this is something 
that boys have but girls don't." The kids just sat there until one 
little girl yelled out "PENIS!" All the kids happily agreed. 



One day about a year after we moved to the brutally desolate 
southwest, my then-two-year-old daughter and I went 
garage sale-ing, as was our new Saturday morning ritual. This 
particular Saturday, though, I was feeling uncomfortable about 
being nine-and-a-half months pregnant with our fourth child 
and being in a different and unfamiliar part of town. 


When my mother was nine months pregnant with her sixth 
child she waddled from store to store buying all the supplies 
the Church said the family would need in the undeveloped 
conditions of 1960s Samoa where my father would soon serve 
as principal of the LDS Church schools. She gave birth, and two 
weeks later flew to Samoa. 

As I pulled up to this particular garage sale at about 9:00 a.m., 
a huge boat of a car pulled up and parked right in front of me. 
Now this powder blue car was not only huge, it was lifted up 
on hydraulics, with little shiny spinning wheels, and its sound 
system was definitely one-of-a-kind. Four large Hispanic young 
men got out of the car at the same time I was getting my little 
daughter out of the minivan. The driver and I made eye contact, 
and I felt compelled to say something to him. But of course, I 
decided against an easy "Hello!" or "Good morning, sir!" and 
instead my mind raced to think of something to say to show 
how both cool and/or hip I am. So, with a big smile, I said, "Hey, 
looks like your ride's been pimped!" 

After three years and many tropical adventures involving giant 
rats, interesting parasites, and six wild red-heads without the 
modern convenience of sunscreen, it was time to move back to 
Utah. Mom decided that a red-eye flight to Hawaii was just the 
ticket— they'd keep the kids up late, shuffle them on the plane 
and watch them all fall peacefully to sleep for a quiet trip to the 
Rainbow State. 

Ah, the best-laid plans. No one slept for the six-hour flight. There 
was screaming and fighting and vomiting. Every passenger 
on the plane loathed the entire pack of freckle-faced demon 
children. Including their parents. 


It was the single most ridiculous thing I could have said. As soon 
as the words left my mouth— as if in slow motion— I wanted 
to retrieve them but alas, I could not. The men said nothing at 
first. They just stared at me and then turned to each other and 
started laughing. They clapped their hands, then walked up to 
us and started high-fiving and fist-bumping me. One said, "Look 
at the mamacita, talking about your ride, man!" and another 
patted my daughter on the head. Then they walked away from 
us, still laughing and addressing each other with a sort of British 
affectation, "Oy there, looks like your ride's been pimped!" 

As my daughter and I walked hand-in-hand and looked at the 
items at the picked-over garage sale, I smiled at the priceless 
value of friendliness. Joseph Addison said, "What sunshine is 
to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be 
sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is 


As they arrived in Hawaii, the customs officer eyed my 
distraught mother, the surrounding tumult of bouncing, 
screaming ginger monsters, and the 16 boxes containing all of 
their earthly possessions. With clear trepidation he asked, "Do 
you have any alcohol, firearms, or narcotics to declare?" 

My mom looked him in the eye and said, "Mister, if I had 'em, I'd 
have used 'em by now." 

He laughed and waved them through without a search. 


\s your name 

Because you 
garnish my 

SUMMER 2012 


Of course 111 
make you a hot 
breakfast before 
you have to be 
at Ward Council: 
you didn't even 

need to ask. 

During a stop along the Seine River while traveling in France, 
everyone was sightseeing and I noticed my husband standing 
in front of me. I wrapped my arms around his waist from behind 
and, feeling a little risque, I tucked my fingers into the front of 
his jeans. Not into his front pockets, but actually into his pants. I 
closed my eyes and rested my head on his back. He immediately 
tensed and I thought that was funny. 

I hadn't been holding him more than 
a few seconds when I heard my 

husband saying, 'Heidi. 

I hadn't been holding him more than a few seconds when I 
heard my husband saying, "Heidi." Except the problem was the 
voice was not in front of me. My eyes flew open and I saw my 
husband standing about 10 feet away with an enormous smile 
on his face and waving at me. My face flushed. I quickly took 
my hands out of this strange man's pants and looked at him for 
the first time. He was old, bald, fat, and foreign. The only thing 
that he and my husband shared in common was that they were 
both wearing purple polo shirts. I tried to mutter an apology 
and he said something in a language I didn't understand as I 
ran away. I was humiliated rushing back to my husband and 
the small group of my family members laughing at me, but was 
even more humiliated when I discovered that this man was on 
our tour bus. Needless to say, he followed me around for the 
rest of the two weeks and my family still teases me about it. 


B€mI^^^ Sacrame/it 

Sometime in 2000, we discovered that my husband Dave had 
developed a sesame allergy. So if he bit into a burger that had 
seeds on the bun, or any Chinese food that had come in contact 
with any seeds or oil (basically all of it), he'd get itchy, then red, 
then his throat would start closing. 

One Sunday we're sitting in church wrestling three kids and I 
mindlessly grab a piece of bread from the sacrament tray and 
chew it. Mmmm. Savory. Crunchy. And then it clicks that I'm 
tasting sesame seeds. I look over at oblivious Dave who has 
the bread half way to his mouth and I dive across two kids to 
smack his hand away and shout in a stage whisper, "Don't take 
the sacrament!!!!" 

Everyone in a six-foot radius goes stiff and silent. In the pew 
ahead of us are the Boston Temple President and Matron. She 
steals a glance at us and shakes her head. Dave was the Young 
Men president and the boy holding the tray for our row looked 
like he was going to cry as he imagined what sordid thing Dave 
must have done for me to literally knock the bread out of his 
sinning hand. I turned beet red and felt like I was going into 
anaphylactic shock. Being the center of attention is just fine by 
me, but being the center of a scene — I was mortified. Dave 
loved it. Thought it was hilarious. 



Oh nothing, just 

sitting here... 
feeling the spirit. 


When I was growing up in Provo, Utah, the magical creatures 
that were the focus of some teen girls' dreams were not vampires 
or werewolves . . . but Osmonds. Instead of the piercing gaze 
of a dashing young (or ancient) mystery man, the girls of my 
generation searched for a glimpse of a pearly white smile from 
the bright and beautiful faces of these local mystical beings. 

Now, years later, I wonder what I could tell you about these often 
caricatured yet seldom understood creatures. First off, they are 
all absolutely as nice to mere mortals as they are to Oprah. 
Their toothy grins really can dazzle you from miles away, and if 
you've ever been to an Osmond missionary homecoming then 
you know what it feels like to be freshly bathed and decked in 
your Sunday best, and still be horribly aware that you will never 
shine like a thousand brand new pennies glowing in radiant 
beams of sunlight. 

The Osmonds were a vivid presence in my childhood. I grew 
up within walking distance from Osmond Lane; my aunt was a 
make-up artist on the set of The Donny and Marie Show in the 
1980's; and my dad briefly worked for Osmond Real Estate. In 
my K-12 years, I received items from various Osmond boys that 
included a Pound Puppy, a letterman jacket placed around my 
shoulders behind the Provo Temple, and even the occasional 
small bouquet of flowers in a hand-thrown pot. And as a 
newlywed, I spent many hours assisting Marie in the children's 
department of ZCMI fulfilling the requests of paper angels from 
the Sub-For-Santa Tree. 

If this really were teen fiction, I suspect my supernatural power 
to attract a particular Osmond lay not so much in my alabaster 
skin or witty repertoire, as much as in the fact that I lived blocks 
from BYU and I was not Mormon. "Shhh . . . see that guy? He's 
an Osmond," could easily be whispered alongside, "Hey, that girl 
over there? I'm pretty sure she's a heathen." Not many devout 
Mormon boys only months away from their mission can resist 
practicing their sacred powers of proselytization, and a certain 
Osmond was no exception when he approached me, the cute 
colorguard captain in the band room. I think even an Osmond 
occasionally needs a break from the Utah Valley Mormons-only 
dating standard from time to time. 

My sisters and I were probably the only girls in Utah County 
whose father forbade his daughters to ever marry an Osmond. 

Couldn't we find ourselves a nice high school dropout with a 
motorcycle instead? As a rebellious teen, what better way 
to thumb my nose at parental authority than by wearing my 
sister's prom dress to the winter formal and holding hands, 
fingers intertwined, with an Osmond? In front of everyone! (Take 
that, Romeo and Juliet.) 

Unfortunately, our star-crossed love didn't 
stand a chance against my inability to attend 
early-morning seminary. Rebellion isn't exactly 
fun when it involves getting ready in the dark 
and arriving a full hour before the rest of high 
school even unlocks its doors. 

Unfortunately, our star-crossed love didn't stand a chance 
against my inability to attend early-morning seminary. Rebellion 
isn't exactly fun when it involves getting ready in the dark and 
arriving a full hour before the rest of high school even unlocks 
its doors. It was over in three days. 

In the end, I used up any remaining supernatural powers to snag 
myself an ex-Navy sailor eight years my senior that my dad 
(almost) immediately approved of. Then, with no supernatural 
powers that I know of, I made shining, marvelous people in my 
body who are probably at this very moment conspiring about 
how to someday find Osmonds of their own. Go for it, kids. 
There are a lot worse things out there besides pearly whites, 
intimidating hygiene, and impressive moral standards, even if 
it means for the rest of eternity people will ask you about your 
Uncle Donny before they remember to ask about you. 



/ was just 
working on my 
family history... 

Is it too early to 
list you as my 

SUMMER 2012 

EXPONENT Generations 


The very first edition of the original Woman's Exponent contained a humor section called Pen and Scissors — proof that ourforemothers appreciated 
a good laugh. This feature was ongoing, and we share a few jokes with you here. We are also reprinting one of the nnost requested pieces from 
Exponent II: "Patty Perfect." finally, in this era of serious modesty — talk, enjoy a light-hearted look at nude photos from the Exponent Blog. 

Woman's Exponent (WE) | Vol. 1: No. 3 | JULY 1, 1872: Mrs. 
Drummond, the Quaker preacher, was asked whether the spirit 
ever inspired her with the thought of getting married. "No, My 
friend," said she, "but the flesh has." 

WE I 1:5 I AUGUST 1, 1872: "Some enlightened women hold 
that the Father designed for man to eat of the forbidden fruit; 
but seeing the consequences, he had not fortitude to meet the 
requisition, so his wife had to do it for him." 

WE I 2:17 I FEBRUARY 1, 1874: "Advertising for a wife is just as 
absurd as it would be to get measured for an umbrella." 

WE I 1:17 I JANUARY 31, 1873: A gentleman who had left 
his wife alone in the theatre while he went out to get a whiff 
of fresh air "apologized" on his retun. "Dear me," said she, "I 
thought you went to give me a chance to flirt with that man 
with the mustache." She has had no cause to complain of any 
want of attention from her husband since. 

WE 1 1:19 I MARCH 1, 1873: A young lady who was rebuked by 
her mother for kissing her intended, justified the act by quoting 
the passage: Whatsoever you would that men would do unto 
you, do you even so unto them. 

WE I 2:9 I OCTOBER 1, 1873: Why do women talk less in 
February than than in any other month? Because it is the 
shortest month of the year." 

WE I 1:2 I JUNE 15, 1872: "Can you tell me how the devil is?" 
asked an irreverent fellow of a clergy man. "My friend, you must 
keep your own family record," was the answer. 

WE 1 1:2 I JUNE 15, 1872: An eccentric Connecticut gentleman, 
recently deceased, left to religious institutions $75,000, to his 
cook, $120,000, and to each of his five children, $400. This 
man's affections lay principally in his stomach. 

WE 1 1:2 I JUNE 15, 1872: Progressive teacher to a pupil of the 
period: "Sary Jane Hooker, just take that chewing gum right out 

of your mouth. Little girls who chew gum in school need never 
expect to become President of the United States." Ambitious 
young ladies, with Presidential aspirations, will please take due 
notice and reduce the gum traffic proportionately. 

WE 1 1:1 1 JUNE 1, 1872: An old lady says she hears every day of 
civil engineers, and wonders if there is no one to say a civil word 
for conductors. 

WE 1 1:1 1 JUNE 1, 1872: Old lady to her niece— "Good gracious, 
Matilda, but it's cold. My teeth are actually chattering." Loving 
niece— "Well, don't let them chatter too much, or they may tell 
where you bought them." 

WE I 3:19 I MARCH 1, 1875: Everyone has a curiosity to know 
how celebrated people look; and so we will describe a few 
women prominent as writers or lecturers. 

Mrs. Stanton is a handsome woman. Miss Anthony and Mrs. 
Livermore are both plain. Marie and Jane Porter were women of 
high brows and irregular features, as was also Miss Sedgwick. 
Anna Dickenson has a strong, masculine face; Kate Field has a 
good-looking, though by no means a pretty one, and Mrs. Stowe 
is positively homely. Alice and Phoebe Cary were both plain in 
features, though their sweetness of disposition added greatly 
to their personal appearance. Margaret Fuller had a splendid 
head but her features were irregular, and she was anything but 
handsome, though sometimes in a glow of conversation she 
appeared almost radiant. Charlotte Bronte had wonderously 
beautiful dark brown eyes and a perfectly shaped head. She 
was small to diminutiveness, and was as simple in her manners 
as a child. Julia Ward Howe is a fine-looking woman, wearing 
an aspect of grace and refinement, with great force of character 
in her face and carriage. Laura Holloway resembles Charlotte 
Bronte, both in personal appearance and in the sad of experience 
of her young life. Neither Mary Booth nor Marian Harlan can lay 
claim to handsome faces, though they are splendid specimens 
of cultured women, while Mary Clemmer Ames is just as 
pleasing in features as her writings are graceful and popular. 


EXPONENT II I mtl'Ptrl^ 

By Margaret B. Black & Midge W. Nielsen \ Orem, Utah 
Exponent II Vol. 10: No. 2 (Winter 1984) 

Many LDS women unconsciously compete with an idealized image 
of the already-perfect wife and mother who successfully incorporates 
all the demands of family church, and society into her life. Although 
we have never met such a woman, we persist in believing she's out 
there somewhere. We can just imagine what she must accomplish 
in a day ... 

Patti gets up very early and says her personal prayers. She zips 
up her slim, vigorous body into her warm-up suit and tiptoes 
outside to run her usual five miles (on Saturday she does 10). 
Returning home all aglow, she showers and dresses for the day 
in a tailored skirt and freshly starched and ironed blouse. She 
settles down for quiet meditation and scripture reading before 
preparing the family breakfast. The morning's menu calls for 
whole wheat pancakes, homemade syrup, freshly squeezed 
orange juice, and powdered milk (the whole family loves it). 

With classical music wafting through the air, Patti awakens 
her husband and 10 children. She spends a quiet moment , 
with each and helps them plan a happy day. The children 
quickly dress in clothes that were laid out the night before. V 
They cheerfully make their beds, clean their rooms 
and do the individual chores assigned to them on 
the Family Work Wheel Chart. They assemble for 
breakfast the minute mother calls. 

After family prayer and scripture study, the 
children all practice their different musical 
instruments. Father leaves for work on a 
happy note. All too soon it is time for the 
children to leave for school. Having brushed 
(and flossed) their teeth, the children pick 
up coats, books bags, and lunches that were 
prepared the night before and arrive at 
school five minutes early. 

With things more quiet, Patti has story-time with her 
pre-schoolers and teaches them cognitive reading skills. 
She feeds, bathes, and rocks the baby before putting 
him down for his morning nap. With the baby sleeping 
peacefully and the three-year-old twins absorbed in creative 
play, Patti tackles the laundry and the housework. In less than 
an hour, everything is in order. Thanks to wise scheduling and 
children who are trained to work, her house never really gets 

Proceeding to the kitchen, Patti sets out tonight's dinner: frozen 
veal parmigiana that she made in quantity from her home-grown 
tomatoes and peppers. She then mixes and kneads 12 loaves of 
bread. While the bread rises, Patti dips a batch of candles to 
supplement her food storage. As the bread bakes, she writes in 
her personal journal and dashes off a few quick letters: one to 
her Congressman and a couple genealogy inquiries to distant 
cousins. Patti then prepares her mini-class lesson on organic 
gardening. She also inserts two pictures and a certificate in little 
Paul's scrapbook, noting with satisfaction that all family albums 
are up-to-date. Checking the mail, Patti sees that their income 
tax refund has arrived— a result of having filed in January. It is 
earmarked for mission and college savings accounts. Although 
Patti's hardworking husband earns only a modest salary, her 
careful budgeting has kept the family debt-free. 

In less than an hour, everything is in order. 
Thanks to wise scheduling and children who are 

trained to work, her house never really gets dirty. 

After lunch, Patti drops the children off at Grandma's for their 
weekly visit. Grandma enjoys babysitting and appreciates 
the warm loaf of bread. Making an extra call, Patti takes 
a second loaf to one of the sisters she is assigned to visit 
teach. A third loaf goes to the non-member neighbor on 
the corner. 

Patti arrives at the elementary school where she directs a 
special education program. A clinical psychologist, Patti 
finds directing this program an excellent way to stay 
abreast of her field while raising her family. Before 
picking up her little ones, Patti finishes collecting for 
^ the charity fund drive. 

Home again, Patti settles the children down for 
their afternoon naps. She spends some quiet 
*|\ time catching up on her reading and filing. 
As she mists her luxuriant house plants, the 
school children come through the door. Patti 
listens attentively to each one as they tell about their 
day. The children start right in on their homework, with 
mother supervising and encouraging them. When all the 
schoolwork is done, Patti and the children enjoy working 
on one of their family projects. Today they work on the 
quilt stretched on frames in a corner of the family room. 
Dinnertime and father arrives, and it is a special hour for 
the whole family. They enjoy Patti's well-balanced, tasty meal, 
along with stimulating conversation. After dinner. Father and 
Mom can relax. She enjoys listening to the sounds of laughter 
and affection that come from the kitchen. 

SUMMER 2012 


With the teenaged children in charge at home, Mother and 
Father attend an evening session at the temple. During the 
return trip, they sit close together as in courting days. "Well, 
dear," says Paul Perfect, "did you have a good day?" Patti 
reflectively answers, "Yes, I really did. But I feel I need more 
challenge in my life. I think I'll contact our Family Organization 
and volunteer to head up a reunion for August." 

EXPONENT BLOG | 7^^^aj^a.(Miryd^ 

Posted on July V, 2007 \ By Deborah 

"\ picked up the dry cleaning . . oh, and I finally got the proofs 
from my nude photo session." 

"Your what?" asked my husband. 

"My nude photo session — I told you about it." 

Long pause. "Remind me." 

Essentially, he was prescribing a nude photo session. This was 
not the phrase in my head when I walked in for my appointment 
with the medical photographer. If it had been, I probably would 
have shaved my legs. 

I entered feeling that anxiety that had been lacing my limbs 
for weeks, that had me staring at my once-benign brown spots 
with increasing suspicion. For years, I'd viewed my red hair as a 
particular gift — (just ask me to rattle off names of luminaries 
with auburn tresses) — but suddenly I found myself hoping my 
(future) children inherited my husband's mocha coloring. 

I had the last appointment of the day. The spring sun was 
dipping down, casting shades of red into the deserted waiting 
room. The floor was empty, save the Super Receptionist and 
the medical photographer, a woman about my age. When we 
entered the studio, I made a decision. No, that sounds too 
deliberate. Inexplicably, I suddenly wanted to have some fun 
with my body. I didn't want it to be my enemy. 

"Hey, this may be my one opportunity for a nude photo shoot," 
I told Ms. Photographer. "Care if I ham it up?" 

I have a way of alarming my dermatologists. They are alarmed 
by the number of moles sprinkled across my body, alarmed 
by their peculiar edge pattern, alarmed by the inevitable lab 
results of every biopsy: extreme severe dysplastic nevus. (Yeah, 
that means pre-cancerous.) 

She laughed, "Fabulous. Be my guest." 

So as we proceeded with her careful script of camera angles, 
I threw in some sultry smiles, an arched eyebrow or two. We 
laughed and chatted about our careers. It felt good to be in my 

In December, during my quarterly visit, Madame Dermatologist 
shaved off a changing mole and, as a bit of an experiment, a 
tiny textbook-normal mole in the same region. Both came back 
severe — make that "extreme severe." She was alarmed and 
passed me off to the experts at Memorial Sloane-Kettering 
Cancer Center for more careful monitoring. 

Now, I love my new doctor. I love his receptionist, who 
recognizes my voice on the phone. I love the waiting room that 
is flooded with the light of floor-to-ceiling windows. When you 
don't really have cancer, Sloane-Kettering is a great place to 
spend an afternoon. 

Today, as I looked through the oversize book of prints, I warned 
my mind, "You just keep quiet about the extra pudge, the 
stomach roll, and the scar tissue." 

And when my husband came home, I wouldn't let him eat 
dinner until he turned every page. 

He said I looked beautiful. He's right. )K 

Of course, someday I will almost certainly really have melanoma 
— or "the noma," as we call it around here. As my Cool New 
Doctor explained, I grow my moles atypically. Hazards of having 
luscious red locks, I guess. Instead of removing every suspicious 
mole and leaving me with scarred limbs, he suggested Full Body 
Digital Photography — a high-resolution way of tracking each 
and every mole on a monthly basis. 



Illustration by Pat Langmade, Paradise Valley, Ari. 



In my calling that enconnpasses helping people through the full nnenu of life's nniseries, PEC is the worst 
part of the job. \ By Dana Haight Cattani ■ Bloonnington, Indiana 

The ward priesthood executive committee (PEC) includes the bishopric, ward clerk, ward executive secretary high priests 
group leader elders quorum president, ward mission leader and Young Men president. 

The PEC meets regularly to consider priesthood matters.... As needed, the bishop may invite the Relief Society president 
to attend some ward PEC meetings to discuss confidential welfare matters and to coordinate home teaching and visiting 
teaching assignments. \ Handbook 2: Administering the Church 2010, section 4.3 

/^s Relief Society president, I typically attend three monthly 
l/t/fneetings. The first is a one-on-one appointment with 
the bishop. I generally bring a focused agenda, and we make 
decisions and discuss concerns candidly. I leave with a sense of 
autonomy, support, and partnership. 

The second is the Ward Council meeting with the bishop, his 
two counselors, the executive secretary, ward clerk, high priests 
group leader, elders quorum president, ward mission leader, two 
full-time missionaries. Young Men president, Sunday School 
president, and high council representative. If everyone attends. 

SUMMER 2012 


there are 13 men present, as well as three women: the Relief 
Society, Young Women, and Primary presidents. The bishopric 
brings the agenda, and the discussions are mostly focused. 
Generally, I leave with a sense of the differences among the 
organizations' leaders and priorities and of the challenges in 
working together. 

The third meeting is PEC. It includes all 13 men from the Ward 
Council, and, at the bishop's standing invitation, me. The 
bishopric provides the agenda. Consistently, I leave feeling 
frustrated. In my calling, which encompasses helping people 
through the full menu of life's miseries, PEC is the worst part 
of the job. 

The PEC meetings I attend are not disorganized or poorly run 
or irrelevant. The men are gracious and competent, and for 
the most part, I enjoy working with them. My ward, like most 
others in the Church, has more active women than men ^ 
on the rolls. The "priesthood matters" th 
up the agendas at these meetings virti 
always affect women, either directly c 
indirectly. Yet the committee officially 
consists entirely of men. This structure 
leads to some puzzling administrative 
arrangements. I 

Women have . 

For example, seemingly analogous 
roles turn out to be not at all parallel. The 
Young Men president is a permanent PEC 
member, but the Young Women preside 
is not even on the potential guest list. Simi 
the apparent ranking of stewardships is a bit odd. 
The Young Men president has a very demanding calling but 
a relatively narrow stewardship. He serves males ages 12-18— 
in my ward, about eight young men. In contrast, the Primary 
president serves children of both genders ages 18 months 
through 11 years— in my ward, about 80 children. She oversees 
10 times as many people as the Young Men president, including 
the largest staff in the ward, and her organization touches upon 
a much higher percent of the ward households. However, like 
the Young Women president, the Primary president is never 
part of this executive committee. In the same way, an elders 
quorum president and high priests group leader divide home 
teaching and quorum responsibilities for the adult households, 
while a Relief Society president serves any household that 
includes a woman over age 18— in my ward, virtually every one. 
Short of the bishop, the Relief Society president's stewardship 
is the broadest in the ward. Yet, she is not a permanent member 
of the executive committee. 

different networks than 
men do. They often know 
information about other topics 
with different levels of detail 

I once listened to a discussion in PEC about a calling that needed 
to be filled. One of the men suggested a particular woman, and 
several others chimed in their support. After listening for a 
few minutes, I pointed out that this woman was expecting a 
baby in six weeks. (Had they not noticed?) Immediately, the 
conversation shifted to another individual. My input was salient 
and pivotal. 

Women have access to different networks than men do. They 
often know information about other topics with different 
levels of detail and nuance. They know, among other things, 
that nursing lounge chairs should have arms, that undersized 
ovens in a church kitchen are inadequate for ward dinners, and 
that thermostats set by men in suit coats inevitably will be 
uncomfortable for women wearing short-sleeve blouses. They 
know, as well, that families in need rarely want to be discussed at 
a council meeting, that women visitors need not be asked their 
marital status or how many children they have, that fifth 
fc^ . Sunday combined Priesthood and Relief Society 
^^1^ lessons are opportunities for discussion and 
application of gospel principles rather than 
^ simply more doctrine, and that some ward 
community service activities need to be 


organized by and for women so that 

and nuance. 

they have explicit opportunities to make 

Y a difference in public life. Why write 

the important perspectives of women 
out of an executive committee tasked 
with addressing welfare, missionary, and 
Brvice roles for the entire ward? 

M cnaritable explanation might be that the women 
are not excluded; they are protected. Sunday mornings 
can be very busy if a woman has young children to feed and 
dress. In households with married couples, at least one adult 
needs to be home to facilitate, and surely some men find it 
easier to preside from a distance when it comes to hog-tying 
toddlers or rousing semi-comatose teenagers. Given a choice, 
some women undoubtedly would prefer to skip additional 
Sunday meetings that can be tedious and time-consuming. 
In our church, at least, administration is the province of men, 
while combing unruly hair, washing the breakfast dishes, and 
prepping the dinner is typically the province of women. Taking 
a woman out of her home on Sunday morning (or afternoon or 
evening) presumably would interfere with her divinely designed 
role as nurturer— whether or not she has children at home or 
at all. 

Less charitable explanations for excluding women include 


rigid culture and gender roles. Men hold the priesthood. The 
priesthood is central to the Gospel. Any organization with 
women in it is, by definition, auxiliary. (In dark moments, I think 
that in our church, men preside, lead, administer, ordain, call, 
baptize, confirm, and bless while women provide food, sex, and 
child care. If the women were to strike, we might quickly find 
out what is auxiliary and what is not.) 

Of course, the most obvious rationale for the existing PEC 
structure is Handbook 2, Administering the Church 2010. The 
composition of the committee is clearly specified. No girls 
allowed, except by special invitation. 

■ ■ ■ 

More than 25 years ago. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich published an 
essay in Exponent II titled "On Appendages." She noted that 
our imprecise use of language creates some problems and 
distortions. Specifically, we tend to substitute 
the words priesthood and men rather freely. 
(Not convinced? Listen carefully when the 
conducting member of the bishopric stands 
up after the sacrament. Whom does he thank 
for the reverent administration of the bread 
and water? If he thanks the young men rather 
than the priesthood, give him a high five after 
the closing prayer.) Ulrich's assessment 
remains true today: 

Part of the problem is our vocabulary. Because 
we use the word priesthood to refer to both the 
vehicle and the power, we get into some curious 
situations, almost like mistaking a utility pole for 
electricity or a sacrament cup for water 

What if every ward had a Men's Executive Committee that 
had the ear of the bishop for an hour each month? Would 
women be significantly more marginalized than they are in the 
current arrangement? Names matter. So does the composition 
of influential committees. Additional meetings can be 
burdensome, but I suspect that most women would be happy to 
serve if they had meaningful roles and felt empowered to make 
and implement their own decisions. They would be happier 
still to serve in a setting where they were not permanently 
outnumbered and uniformly outranked. This dynamic forces 
women who advocate for change into unflattering caricature 
roles: shrew, battle-axe, disgruntled daughter of God. 

I could easily opt out of PEC. All I would have to do is plead 
domestic responsibilities. It is an iron-clad excuse for a 

woman— and the reason I do not invoke it. Here is the dilemma: 
Not to attend PEC is to accept the status quo— that men make 
the decisions on behalf of women— but to attend PEC is to 
accept the role of token woman as sufficient. Either I absent 
myself from an instrumental committee and leave it entirely in 
the hands of men, or I lend credibility to a body I do not think is 
entirely legitimate. 

I cannot, on my own, revise Handbook 2 io include the ordaining 
of women, the renaming of the PEC as the Ward Executive 
Committee, and the reconstituting of its membership to include 
fewer men and multiple members of the Relief Society, Young 
Women, and Primary presidencies. I can, however, offer the PEC 
in my ward one example of a woman who shows up and speaks 
out. I do not get out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning to 
sit in those meetings like Clarence Thomas, who in 20 years on 
the Supreme Court has never spoken from the bench. If silence 
is the intent, let's all sleep in and read a memo 
at a more reasonable hour. I speak up, and 
I speak disproportionately, in an effort to 
represent my large and diverse constituency 

So I attend PEC every month. I go to stake my 
claim that we are the Relief Society, not the 
Catering Society, and that the scout leaders 
do not need us to bake 200 brownies for 
their training meeting. I go to witness the 
discussion on families that have not had 
home teaching visits in the past six months. 
Visiting teaching? Not mentioned— until I 
bring it up. (I keep all those statistics on visits 
that apparently do not count for much.) I go 
to notice when we spend a quarter of one meeting discussing 
whether or not 12-year-old boys should help take the sacrament 
to shut-ins or be allowed to be home teaching companions with 
their fathers. Did we discuss the importance of giving 12-year- 
old girls visible and important responsibilities in the ward? It 
never came up— except in my next meeting with the bishop. 

I go so that when we sing the opening hymn, one voice is in the 
treble clef. 

Am I co-opted in my role as token woman? Probably. Do I 
irritate the men? Undoubtedly, and with good reason. Do we 
need more women in the councils of the church? 

Of course. 

Here is the dilemma: 
Not to attend PEC is to 
accept the status quo — 

that men make the 
decisions on behalf of 
women — but to attend 

PEC is to accept the 
role of token woman as 

SUMMER 2012 



'While extremely frugal in most ways (7 prefer the 
term ''cheap/'' my dad says), he has an obsession 
with buying fruit/' 

By Margaret Olsen Hemming ■ Baltimore, Maryland 

/^yl /Ken I was nine years old, my father went to a conference 
i/w\n Boston with several pounds of bananas packed in his 
suitcase. My mother had insisted that he take them. 

She had spent a day humming to herself as she anticipated 
his upcoming trip, happy to have a week to rid the house of 
fruit during his absence. When he came home just a few hours 
before leaving for the airport burdened with bags of bananas 
and apples, she panicked. The fruit was soon banished to his 
suitcase. When Dad returned from his trip, he insisted that 
those bananas were highly useful, even 
needed during his trip. Mom grimly smiled 
in response and said nothing. This was just 
another battle in what my siblings and I 
eventually came to refer to as the Fruit Wars. 

While extremely frugal in most ways ("I prefer 
the term 'cheap,'" my dad says), he has an 
obsession with buying fruit. Since he always 
did the grocery shopping for the family, he 
had full rein to bring home boxes of pears, 
oranges, plums, and apples. Bananas are a 
particular weakness for him. The mammoth 
portions of fruit brought into the house 
meant that during my childhood, fruit was 
everywhere: in several bowls covering the counter, filling bins 
in the refrigerator, and stuffed in a box on the kitchen floor. My 
father argued that if five children and a passel of kids from an 
in-home daycare center were to get three full servings of fruit a 
day, we required a daily input of at least 20 to 30 pieces of fruit. 
In theory, his numbers added up. I have no doubt that our full 
house went through an enormous amount of food every day. 
But in reality, the fruit would begin to rot, and then my mom 
had to deal with it. 

First the fruit went into the refrigerator; the kids were 

Where did this 
grapefruit come from? 
Billy is there grapefruit 
in the houseV^ The 
deception quickly 
unraveled. Another 
battle in the Fruit 
Wars commenced ... 

admonished to eat the fruit in the fridge before we went for the 
new fruit on the counter. When even the refrigerator fruit began 
to rot. Mom would make grape yogurt, apple pies, and banana 
bread. Banana bread was a staple of my childhood. But as soon 
as the bananas were used, my father quickly replaced them. 
We couldn't eat the banana bread fast enough. One unusually 
hot summer, when Mom was nine months pregnant with my 
younger brother, our freezer was stocked with five loaves of 
banana bread and there were still several pounds of bananas 
on the counter. My mother declared herself to be enabling an 
addiction and swore off ever making banana 
bread again. We all thought she was joking, 
but more than 20 years later, she has stuck by 
her promise. My younger siblings have rarely 
ever eaten banana bread, which makes it feel 
like we grew up in different families. But the 
end of banana bread didn't stop bananas from 
coming into the house in massive quantities. 
The banana bread strike has created a few 
awkward moments, especially with ever-self- 
reliant women from the ward. They would 
come over for book group and my mom would 
apologize for the piles of fruit on the kitchen 
counter. "Oh!" they would say, "You should 
make banana bread!" Awkward silence. How 
does one explain a ban on banana bread as a response to an 
over-zealous husband addicted to buying fruit? 

My dad always did the grocery shopping on his way home from 
work, arriving at the door with bags of groceries that the kids 
had to help unload. Many times my mom would peer into a few 
bags and her face would fall. "Bill, where are we going to put all 
this fruit? Look. Look in the refrigerator. Look at the counters. 
There is no space for it. What am I going to do with all this?" 
Sometimes my dad's reaction was defensive, sometimes jovial, 
but always the same, "Oh the kids will eat it!" 


And we did. Under great pressure. For years a fruit salad 
accompanied every single dinner in the house. My dad took 
over the chore of cutting up the fruit every evening and then 
adorned the table with an enormous bowl of fruit. "Has everyone 
had some fruit salad?" my dad would say, serving himself thirds 
and looking anxiously into the still-full bowl. "Margaret, have 
some fruit salad! You barely took any." The tone was 
always cheerful, but we all knew the tension that the 
bowl was creating. Unspoken words of accusation from 
my mom and defense from my dad made that salad 
the most emotionally burdened fruit in history. We took 
second helpings of fruit salad, just to avoid conflict. We 
also knew that it was useless to make any response to dad's 
question, "Have you had an orange today? Are you trying to get 
me into trouble?" It was easier to just take the orange. 

Eventually my mom began sneaking fruit out of the house. 
She gave it to parents of her daycare kids or to families in the 
ward who needed meals. A few times it went straight into the 
trash, a waste that made both my parents feel terrible. Such 
an abundance of food gives the impression of wealth beyond 
discipline or understanding, but that wasn't the case at all. My 
parents had a very tight budget. My father spent every Saturday 
morning cutting coupons, doubling or tripling them up to get 
unbelievable grocery deals. We were well-cared for, but any 
extra expenses were carefully considered and often rejected. 
Fruit was the bizarre exception of a tightly run ship. 

Like many Mormons their age, my parents were trying to achieve 
several conflicting goals at once: Have many children young, 
get good educations, stay out of debt, pay tithing, and have 
a parent at home. The pressure that this created heightened 
the transgression of rotten fruit: There was simply no room for 
waste in the family budget. But it also urged Dad on in his fruit- 
buying. He had five children to feed and limited funds to do it. 
Buying bulk fruit for incredible deals was an economic necessity, 
but it was also a joyful conquest. There was an exuberant thrill 
in keeping a family healthy in the cheapest way possible. The 
pleasure was strong enough that the habit remained long after 
the financial pressures had eased and the household had grown 

By the time my older sister and I had started college. Dad had 
adopted some of Mom's methods of disposing of the fruit. 
When we would come home for Sunday dinner, we inevitably 
left with a bag of fresh contraband. If it came from Mom, it was 
always overt: "Please, take this bag of apples. We can't use it." If 
it came from Dad, it was less obvious and said in an undertone: 
"There are some oranges down in the food storage. Why don't 

you take a few back to your apartment?" 

At the same time, fruit coming into the house had gone 
undercover. My sister came home to visit one evening and Dad 
pulled her aside while Mom was out of the room. "I need you to 
get me a grapefruit," he said. "There's a box downstairs in the 
storage room, to the left of the door." 

"Dad, did you hide a box of grapefruit from Mom?" 

"Shhhhh " 

My sister retrieved the grapefruit and it went into the fruit salad 
that night. Halfway through dinner. Mom narrowed her eyes. 
"There's grapefruit in this salad." 

Silence. Everyone chewed innocently. 

"Where did this grapefruit come from? Bill, is there grapefruit 
in the house?" The deception quickly unraveled. Another battle 
in the Fruit Wars commenced as they rehashed all the old 
arguments for and against an unwieldy amount of Vitamin C 
in our home. 

Over the years. Mom found ways of coming to peace with the 
fruit. She started a garden and began composting. College kids 
visiting home were always more grateful than adolescents 
for fresh fruit. In the process of becoming a social worker and 
therapist, she realized that she could let go and not allow her 
husband's problems to be her problems. When I visit now, there 
are always multiple full bowls on the counter and my toddler 
daughter is always encouraged to snack on several pieces 
of fruit ("Honey, can I cut up a plum for you? How about a 
banana?"). But really, the Fruit Wars are over. I wouldn't say that 
my parents ever reached an armistice, but their laughter about 
the issue today indicates that their marriage could overcome 
even the most painful banana battles. 

SUMMER 2012 



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